Well it seems to me that to believe in a “Russian plot to control your mindfulness” is at least paranoia. But the context in which this latest charge occurs is one of intense fear and media-fueled emotional excitement in the US, whipped up out of fragments of evidence and a small number of actual incidents. So it does strike me as a case of mass hysteria.
ok, as you like; but as i see this thread as likely to encourage partisan thinking, i am going to have to avoid it, for my spiritual wellbeing.
I think you have a good heart; i hope you nourish that more than anything else.
Ok, well I guess I’ve exhausted every point I wanted to make about this article anyway.
Just to provide a little historical context, and writing from my perspective as a political scientist, disinformation campaigns, in one form or another, are as old as politics. Not to minimize the impacts of contemporary efforts to undermine political legitimacy in one country or another, but the main differences between present-day disinformation campaigns and ones in the past are more a matter of scale and the mediums used to disseminate false information than of kind. One of the most important things I teach my students is that when they advance a thesis they need to place it in a comparative context. They don’t always follow my advice, but I always make a concerted effort to encourage students to keep their conclusions in perspective.
Just to focus in on this for a bit first…
I don’t think we can make such comparisons without a lot of accurate historical - and contextual - data.
I assume that when states decide to go a-spying and a-meddling in other states - they don’t think about overarching ideologies and whether they’re creating an authoritarian state elsewhere or not… They don’t care. They’re only interested in their immediate concerns. These types of actions (meddling in the affairs of other countries) suggest a survival mentality. When this is restricted to an individual or small group, it may not have consequences for the many. But unfortunately some of the current alleged meddlars are endowed with power, wealth and plenty of ego confirmation.
The US - as I have read and heard elsewhere - has also been subject to accusations of alleged meddling. And indeed, it seems that when it may have done so, there wasn’t always a concern about the types of governing bodies that were created. The concern was always more about how it served them - I use the term ‘them’ quite broadly here.
There maybe elements of what you suggest about the Tricycle article to be at least based in some truth. It is important to remain informed as much as possible. And I respect that is perhaps what your aim may have been.
However, it seems to me that currently, the greatest concern, if I were an American citizen, would be observing my country slowly begin to turn into a place that cannot even pretend to look democratic.
Democracies of whatever type are imperfect. Always will be. But at least they provide some checks and balances and offer some protections to those who are at least recognised as citizens… And at least they tend to be a movement away from a smaller and inflexible concentration of power.
I think this is the biggest concern right now. Not whether or not some other nation is seeking to create a particular type of government. Because, whatever is going on, what is actually happening before our eyes is deeply disturbing. And I am not referring to foreign interference in US affairs.
There are, so it seems to me, a multiple array of forces in this evolving and large scale story… But the fact that foreign state interference was limited or not as bad as we thought it was - doesn’t mean that it is a good thing or that it ought not to be looked into. In even saying this much we may find ourselves aligned with people who have other agendas - but we have to do what we think is right, right now, and just do the best with what we have.
I am not American. But I never, never, realised how much your American democracy - with all its imperfections - meant to me, until this fortnight. I really don’t think now is the time to worry about where people and groups are coming from… I reckon now is the time to fight peacefully for that very democracy itself. When you’ve won that and it is once more valued - look at all this other stuff…because perhaps it really does need to be looked into… Because you folks need to ask how you got to where you got to…you really do… And I think I took for granted your place in the world - your appreciation for law, for fairness, your care and kindness and equity and human rights… I took it for granted. But as a global citizen, I didn’t realise until recently, how much I actually care about your independence and your capablity to talk to and listen to each other.
The world would be a poorer place without an American democracy.
I’m sorry, this was rather political and not particularly light-hearted.
But let me try and bring it back to general Buddhism a little bit. And also to the society and culture of the EBTs.
In the time of the Buddha, various religions and various ways of thinking about life and spirituality were afforded space in public discourse and practice.
Indeed the Buddha did say that if you were the sort of person who espoused the, “only this is right… And all that is wrong…” type of doctrine… You were probably the one that was wrong.
I wonder if Siddhatta Gotama were born in America today - or the type of America that might exist in a decade’s time… Would he have had the supportive conditions to go off and be a renunciant mendicant. To explore for himself and even go the wrong way in this endeavour (when he practised the austerities) and make his own mistakes and take ultimate responsibility for his own spiritual Awakening?
And would the current batch of US mendicants find themselves in a social climate that is able to nourish them in more than one way…?
This goes beyond a complaint about an article. And it is certainly beyond the scope or capabilities of this forum and its members.
So, to characterise Buddhists in this way
…is not particularly useful either. It just adds to the sense of dislocation…
Indeed, it suggests a lack of kindness and generosity, which for me, have always been markers - though not the only ones certainly - of whether there is even a little bit of true wisdom present in someone’s statements. It certainly demonstrates the kind of thinking, which, if it had been popular in Early Buddhist times, might have seen a rather closed and rigid society which could not have given rise to a Buddha. A society where people were not free to explore in safety.
I am not saying you must always be kind. Most of us aren’t. But it’s easier to be kinder when there is typing involved.
I hope you understand, I am not attacking you - as you seem to have done in the above statement; which seems to be an attack on many (whom, I assume, you don’t actually have enough experience with) within various Buddhist cultures. However, I am calling out these particular statements - not you as a person - for what they are - in my eyes anyway; as an unkind denigration of others and an implicit desire to have all Buddhists be a certain way… Of course, the thing with believing in a certain way is that you do think you’re right and everyone else is wrong - heck I think that too… And there are times when I’ll happily (or unhappily) argue 'til the cows come home about what actually Buddhist Practice is… But I will also defend your right, and the right of others I disagree with, to Practise Buddhism and believe in it in whatever way you want to.
Can you see how this kind of behaviour makes whatever arguments you make elsewhere less compelling? I’m sure when I have become overly passionate - as I can be - in my speech, I have done damage to my message too…
I’ve not said anything before because, well, I’m not perfect either! But somehow the broader context and timing of your comments have made me feel that I must…
The person you are is probably quite fine and good in many respects. You do seem to care and have a good heart. But you do also seem to think that your way of looking at things is somehow the only way. There are many ways.
To figure out the “correct way” as far as Practice goes is one thing… And a personal thing at that…
But to broadly denigrate others because of the choices and values they hold - the responsibility for which, particularly if they are Buddhist Practitioners, they must take for themselves, is another. Further, the vast, broad, sweep of these generalisations are discriminatory; they certainly do not demonstrate a vast experiential engagement with the varied and multi-faceted Buddhist world.
I have spoken fairly bluntly. But I have measured my words with care - by which I mean a care for you as well as myself and others. I hope I have tried to call out your words and not you as a person. If I have failed in this, I sincerely apologise and and 'am of course open to removing or deleting anything offensive - please understand that it is not my intention to offend.
With Sincere Metta
That’s putting it mildly Kay. This has been widely reported. One report I read counted over 80 countries in whose elections the US has interfered since 1948. And that doesn’t count the assassinations, coups and other violent means my country has used for directly determining political outcomes in other countries.
No I don’t think so. We have no tradition of that kind here. Homeless people, vagrants and beggers are at the very bottom of the social hierarchy in the US. Some of our municipalities pass laws to make begging illegal, and push the homeless elsewhere. I can’t think of a single person who has become famous as a respected teacher or spiritual leader by pursuing a path of wandering.
I find it interesting that, in the Buddha’s time, it appears a fairly large number of people were able to achieve widespread support living outside, or on the margins, of the political order. That suggests to me that in his time many people must have had contempt for that political order.
I find that suggestion rather strange.
It is possible to live on the margins without contempt.
Yes, but it appears that the Buddha and his followers were part of a much larger movement that was collectively receiving much popular support and respect. They wandered in a liminal space outside of the reach of magistrates and kings, before there were settled monasteries and institutionalized structures, beyond where the roads reached, and were not integrated into the political and economic life of their society apart from their daily begging rounds. We have suggestions in the suttas that some people chased them away, threw pots at them, etc. But they managed to live and survive by being fed by members of the populace living ordinary household lives within settled communities. I think we can also tell that some of them developed fixed attachments to, and support relationships with, particular communities and families, a practice the Buddha frowned upon.
I don’t think we should just take all this for granted and say, “Well that’s just the way Indians are.” Because that then raises the question of how they got to be this way. Not every culture in the world is the same way. There must be conditions within the early Indian historical experience that explain its emergence.
…is still a thing.
…here’s another thing I find strange!
From memory, of reading the suttas, not of a past life, to be clear…
I reckon he said something like:
Don’t be attached to families and support if you wanna live more of a renunciant life…
But my memory aint’ brilliant. However, I do remember that the Buddha himself lived in one place for long time periods…
The folks he taught were different and all would’ve had different tendencies and spiritual and emotional needs. The suttas don’t tell us about these things; about how some may’ve needed encouragement towards more asceticism, and others less. Much is lost.
But I’ve not said what I found strange! I find it strange to imagine the Buddha being characterised in anyway as someone who “frowned upon” something!! It’s not how I view him. I think of the Buddha as someone utterly peaceful, full of compassion and understanding and sensitivity for where people were at - not random people that he thought about somewhere else or at some other time… Rather whoever may have been in his company at any given moment. I imagine he wasn’t terribly ‘frowny’.
Quite likely… As it is with all other types of external (and internal) sankharas. And while this is an interesting turn of the conversation, my point was not really aimed at this particular tangential exploration.
Yes, but since the path to the end of suffering requires a renunciant life, and the path is what the Buddha taught, this seems redundant. Perhaps others can help out by finding the locations, but I seem to recall several places in the EBTs where a bhikkhu is corrected for developing attachments to particular families or villages.
Yes, I’m sure you’re right.
But my point stands… And I also base this on observing sensitive, skilled teachers in this day and age of any subject… You have to be audience specific.
You can’t tell someone happy to renounce but not ready for complete ascetism that they can’t ordain! There’s a way for them too.
As I said, even the Buddha stayed in one place.
I’m reminded of those suttas where Mara taunts him for sleeping and he says he does so to rest, but also out of compassion for future generations. Basically so us lot wouldn’t try and go without sleep because that’s the kind of foolish thing we humans are quite capable of doing - just because he could under certain circumstances!
Look, it comes back to something I keep going on about lately… taking personal responsibility. Thus it’s up to the individual monastic to work out what the “middle way” is for them. The Buddha always seemed to insist we look within, cultivate those spiritual powers for ourselves. But, part of a recognition of the importance of individual responsibility is that you don’t try to control or impose the same standard upon everyone - indeed, the standards are never an imposition, always a choice - afterall, one doesn’t have to ordain at all.
EDIT: So in Buddhism, one does not use the teachings to look outward. What others do and how they live, is up to them. There are community guidelines and rules and suggestions and what not… (even here on D&D!!) but it’s always your choice to take them up and explore what they are and how they impact your life. One uses the teachings to focus inward. What do you need, how do you feel, what is going on for you right now? In Practise these are among the first questions you ask, you become present…you take it from there… It makes sense for a Path steeped in Sila and Kindness to be so compassionate and sensitive to how we are and how we feel within ourselves. There is no progress, no gradual movement/training without this basic sense of safety and love from within.
I also remember a story from a translation of a teaching by Ajahn Chah: If he sees a person walking to the right of a road they’re looking for, he tells them to go left; if they’re walking to the left of it, he tells them to go right. The needs of the audience you’re present to right now - are what is important. That is what we have in the suttas. A collection of such recollections. We have to use them without rigidity - using our own experience as a framework within which to examine them.
Oh, also… I believe the Vinaya doesn’t impose the ascetic rules upon everyone. As I remember, there are a small group of ascetic rules that are very much up to the individual monastic to take up if and when they’re ready.
Reminds me of that sutta where the Buddha told that monk not to go off into the forest alone because he knew that monk wasn’t ready yet. He hadn’t developed certain qualities well enough to be able to cope with such a practice.
I realize that here you aren’t saying nobody has ever gone from being homeless to moderately famous. Nonetheless, this should be a welcomed diversion from political discussion:
This girl ended up getting a record deal not more than a month later than this video went viral.
There was Peace Pilgrim. She wandered for years living off the generosity of others, walking tens of thousands of miles.
Good to hear that. Russian army, in alliance with terrorists, kills my compatriots every week. It’s a war. Without the help of the West, our country would be totally occupied by Russia, and the count of fallen heroes would amount to hundreds of thousands, instead of current thousands.
Russian free-thinkers, including Buddhists, are oppressed by the criminal regime, and our future victory will help the multinational citizens of current “Russian Federation” to live in peace, freedom and comfort.
Which country are you talking about?
- Bad faith actors based in Russia (and elsewhere) manipulate social media to further their ends.
- Bad faith actors based in the US (and elsewhere) leverage such interference to further their ends.
As someone who used to live in Russia for most of their life, I am honestly amused by how grossly exaggerated this fear of Russian hackers and Russian influence on the public opinion is now in the West.
I totally agree that the Russian government does try to influence the Western public opinion in some way, just as any other country. On the other hand, believeing that Russia has the necessary resources to pull out that trick and really change what people think is, frankly, ludicrous. I mean, we are speaking about a couple of millions of dollars invested into this endeavour by Putin, and, while this is something I cannot approve of, thinking it really matters on a large scale is like thinking that one guy pissing on a glacial can melt it all. 32 accounts deleted? Wow, this a really huge number, the Western democracy really got through this crisis by the skin of its teeth.
It is even more ludicrous because this exact strategy, almost word to word, was used by the Russian government previously. They claimed in all seriousness that the U.S. State Department invested huge amounts of time, effort and money into subverting the Russian public opinion and ultimately overthrowing Putin’s government. Whereas there was some truth to that, just as it is true that Russian government-funded hackers do exist, it became outright ridiculous, up to the point that it was a common Russian joke Obama personally peed in people’s elevators.
My position is that yes, Putin’s government is not to be believed in ideological matters, and pro-Russian ideological sentiments should be treated with extreme caution by those living in the West. But the truth is that the Russian influence is blown out of any possible and thinkable proportion by almost all political actors in the West to achieve their own ends. Every time I hear anything about the Russian influence I immediately become incredulous, not because I am Russian but just because I know from my experience that 99% of the time tricks like this one exist to sell me lies.