Hi friends! Hope you’re doing well and Happy New Year!
Not to toot my own horn, but I noticed no one has posted this yet. In a follow-up to our article, Dr. Ann Gleig and I recently joined the lovely Matthew Remski to talk about all things right-wing/alt-right Buddhism on the Conspirituality podcast. (And yes the title is click-baity, we only talk about Elon for 5-minutes, I promise!).
(I also may have shouted-out Rainbodhi as a group doing great work in inclusion and countering hatred, because y’all are awesome and I think you’re cool. cc @Akaliko)
As I was reviewing the article, I noticed that you mention the name of Paññobhāsa Bhikkhu as an example of a right-wing Buddhist or Alt-Buddhist. I’ve been browsing his website and to be honest, he doesn’t have the slightest idea about Buddhism - among other things, he promotes pornography. XD He pretends that the buddha was interested in masculinity, while Buddhist teachings teach about denying sexuality, striving for asexuality, liberating oneself from sexual desire. It has nothing to do with asceticism. He does not understand the way of the brahmin.
Buddhism is not political, it is metaphysically focused on liberation from samsara. Buddha was not a political activist. He changed the world with his attitude. His kamma gave birth to Ashoka. But he wasn’t focused on that. He simply taught the Dhamma and the Vinaya - he achieved supersensible states. If he changed the world in this way, it was only as a side effect. I believe that ascetic monks who sincerely follow the Buddha’s path, even when they sometimes get involved in politics, take a political stand for a party (often as a result of being politically minded before they became monks), their greatest power comes from meditation, and it shapes reality even when they don’t realize in which direction this change is going
One of the side effects talking about Alt Right/White Supremacist “Buddhists” is that it helps to promote them. It lets other people know of their existence, people who might be swayed by what they have to “offer”. It also encourages people who are already Alt Right/White Supremacist “Buddhists” by feeding them the attention the hunger for.
I’ve noticed that Alt Right/White Supremacist “Buddhists” rarely talk about the dhamma and they often quickly go beyond what they should be concerned with as “Buddhists”.
They don’t talk about impermanence. They don’t talk about loosening desires. They certainly don’t focus on anatta, in fact they actively go in the opposite direction with cementing identities for themselves ( maligned noble white people ) and for those they hate. They don’t talk about reducing ill will, it is a second thing in the opposite direction of.
I think the best way to handle them is to not encourage them by bring them up. Instead when they bring themselves up invite them to actually practice the dhamma AND point out to them all of the major ways they are exceeding the bounds of the dhamma, what they should be concerned with.
In my experience, sticking to that approach lives them, people who want to talk about them, with little left to say or engage over. They either go away or can stay and actually practice the dhamma.
David Reynolds is no longer a monk btw (I hope the podcast addresses this), and while I do think it is beneficial and necessary to emphasize that his writings are not worth following, discussing them in any detail just serves to elevate his platform, which has nothing to with the Dhamma as described in the Pali Canon.
The devil is in the details, so we should be cautious about repeating what wasn’t even worth being said the first time.
The podcast discusses this problem. These are serious academics studying an important matter, and they need to have the freedom to do this. IMHO the main thing is that repugnant and harmful views should, if presented, be given with context and not just quoted. The role of scholarship is to supply such context.
@Brenna, I like the naturalization concept. It seems quite general that people like to believe that their views aren’t arbitrary and limited, but guaranteed by or merely imposed by some permanent external structure (God, Nature, “Basic Biology”, etc.).
Like, it’s obviously so self-serving (and silly) to be like “actually, my mundane political view isn’t mundane at all, it’s a reflection of Reality Itself, The Eternal Truth, and that’s why I shouldn’t have to pay child support.”
In contrast, according to the Buddha’s epistemology, every view one has is suspect, limited, and arbitrary, unless it is a result of having fully suppressed the hindrances.
I read a story once about setting up for a ceremony of some kind in Tibetan Buddhism. The monks arranged all the seats—for monks. There was a nun there and she said, “Where do we sit?” They said, “This is how it is, it’s tradition”. So she kept asking until they made seats for the nuns.
Next year, the ceremony was held again, and the monks laid out the seats for nuns. It’s tradition!