War in Europe 💔

Snp 4.15:
Taking Up Arms

Peril stems from those who take up arms—
just look at people in conflict!
I shall extol how I came to be
stirred with a sense of urgency.

I saw this population flounder,
like a fish in a little puddle.
Seeing them fight each other,
fear came upon me.

The world around was hollow,
all directions were in turmoil.
Wanting a home for myself,
I saw nowhere unsettled.

But even in their settlement they fight—
seeing that, I grew uneasy.
Then I saw a dart there,
so hard to see, stuck in the heart.

When struck by that dart,
you run about in all directions.
But when that same dart has been plucked out,
you neither run about nor sink down.

Let them find that dart and pluck it out!

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Biden has shown mindfulness by being non-reactive and employing a considered approach.

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This sutta came to mind, seems relevant. 7 qualities that the Buddha has mentioned when King Ajātasattu wanted to invade Vajjis: AN 7.22

Master Gotama, if the Vajjis follow even a single one of these principles they can expect growth, not decline. How much more so all seven! King Ajātasattu cannot defeat the Vajjis in war, unless by diplomacy or by sowing dissension.

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:pray:t4:

Superiority. :smiling_imp: :cry: But all there is dependent origination in this hell. So everything connected.

The world is wanting, insatiable, the slave of craving.’ - Buddha

https://suttacentral.net/mn82/en/sujato?layout=linebyline&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

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Sir, there are anointed aristocratic kings who are infatuated with authority, and obsessed with greed for sensual pleasures. They have attained stability in the country, occupying a vast conquered territory. Such kings engage in battles of elephants, cavalry, chariots, or infantry. But there is no place, no scope for such battles when old age and death are advancing.

In this royal court there are ministers of wise counsel who are capable of dividing an approaching enemy by wise counsel. But there is no place, no scope for such diplomatic battles when old age and death are advancing.

In this royal court there is abundant gold coin and bullion stored in dungeons and towers. Using this wealth we can pay off an approaching enemy. But there is no place, no scope for such monetary battles when old age and death are advancing.

When old age and death are advancing, what can I do but practice the teachings, practice morality, doing skillful and good actions?”

https://suttacentral.net/sn3.25/en/sujato

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Since China is an ally of Russia, this gives an idea of what China is like, still living in a primitive mentality. Unfortunately India is another ally so presents itself similarly.

It seems ‘world war 3’ is likely about to begin in Europe, and the Western world!

Or, that humans are more resolute and ethical than we might have thought them to be. Many Russians are in opposition to what Putin is doing; they see their Ukrainian neighbors as family and siblings, which is historically what they are. Many Russians want to be part of European and global culture, and to not end up as pariahs. We also see the EU and NATO solidified into a bloc that is opposing aggression on the continent. We see China (already a bad actor in Asia) abstaining at the UN, signaling that China is not going to support global chaos and aggression, if only because it is bad for business.

My sense is that Putin is looking to partition Ukraine, along the Dnieper River, and to take Kyiv and Kharkiv (along with the port city of Odessa) and try to integrate the east of Ukraine back into Russia. Russia will pay a heavy price for its aggression, and we may see over time that Putin will pay a high price for his aggressive and thuglike behavior. The laws of kamma may play out in this episode, with consequences beyond what Putin imagined being paid by Russia. His own citizens may turn against him.

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Prof. John Mearsheimer (of the University of Chicago) has taken an interesting contrarian viewpoint on the trouble in Ukraine in recent years. See the following for a recent talk (made only shortly before the invasion less then a fortnight ago):

Amongst other things, he draws attention to the US’s “Monroe Doctrine”, which brooks no foreign military interference in the Western Hemisphere (as we’ve seen in the past with the Cuban Missile Crisis and various interferences in Central and South America countries via coups etc.). NATO has been successively expanding towards Russia (Hungary and Poland etc., then the Baltics). In 2008, NATO promised eventual membership for Ukraine and Georgia (Russia made it clear this was a red line). Interestingly, France and Germany opposed the inclusion of this statement at this conference (though the US won out and it was included). However, it was still mostly a neutral buffer state for a period. In recent years, though, the US and the West have been arming it and giving military advice and training (starting with Trump and continuing under Biden; this was something Obama chose not to do, I guess realising the geopolitical risks). Since then, it has been looking more and more like a defacto NATO state right on Russia’s borders. Without any assurances from the West, from Putin’s perspective, it probably looked better to invade now rather than in 5 years when a continuing military build-up would have made this much more difficult. I’m not saying that was right, but I think the West’s entire strategy here has been questionable (might have been best to have come to some deal in the past to leave Ukraine as a neutral state and bring Russia, the EU and IMF in to better develop its economy rather than giving assurances that the West in the end was not prepared to back up).

Putin is an authoritarian and a thug. However, there are probably some double standards in play here. Mearsheimer is a previous article described the hypothetical scenario of “a Chinese military alliance in North America: ‘Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico.’” I’d imagine the US would not let this happen and probably would resort to invasion if necessary.

Few things are black and white in politics (it’s all a pretty murky game). The “good” guys are often just not as good as they seem and the “bad” guys often have a certain rationale for their actions (even if misguided). There’s probably not a lot of peace to be found in any of it!

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NPR had an article a few days ago about the same issue

One wonders why it took so long for him to do so. Given the net worth of the Russian elite, Putin included, vastly eclipses the average Russian on the street, I suspect this action was delayed until they hit their retirement savings targets.:upside_down_face:

(A 2013 report by Credit Suisse found that 35% of the wealth of Russia was owned by the wealthiest 110 individuals)

Tragically, the lives of many beings are pawns in this geopolitical farce that should have been resolved if not for the interference of money and power.

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” -George Orwell

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In the presence of strong defilements of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, anything can be used as ‘justification’.

Remove the defilements and all the ‘fabricated’ narratives fall in a heap.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I am a professor of politics and international studies who has researched, written, and taught about theories of international relations for nearly thirty years. I could write a lengthy dissertation on Prof. John Mearsheimer’s so-called “offensive realist” theory of international relations, but this is obviously not the place to do so. And besides, Prof. Mearsheimer is a far more prolific scholar than I am (he teaches at a major research university; I teach at a small regional university) and he commands far more attention than I do because of his prominence both in academia and outside academic circles.

Having said that, I listened to the video posted in this thread and have one quick reaction: Mearsheimer’s realist view of international relations posits that countries respond to the prevailing distribution of power. In many ways, the choices made by leaders are highly constrained by the global distribution of power. On the other hand, in the video Mearsheimer discusses a host of bad choices made by leaders in the West (principally in the United States, but in Europe as well). There is a basic inconsistency in Mearsheimer’s logic that the distribution of power limits choices at the same time he blames bad choices for the current situation regarding Ukraine.

As I say, I could offer myriad other reflections on Mearsheimer’s analysis, including the fact that he posits very little role for everyday people in the conduct of international affairs, but I think I will stop here.

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Good bad label is superhero morality thinking. USA had invaded so many countries, Russia did the same for Georgia. The world media did not paint them as bad, so not so much negative reaction. Imagine if the world supports Isis from being invaded and eradicated by the west. Good or bad label gives rise to selective compassion, not universal compassion.

We Buddhist morality thinking don’t label country, people as good or bad. Only good or bad deed. Bad deeds motivated by greed, hatred, delusion. Labeling humans or countries can give rise to hatred and justification for violence.

All unwholesome actions of greed, hatred and delusion are unskillful. All acts of killing, of war are not skillful.

Best if the world can abolish the notion of nation, especially in this age of internet where there’s no more communication barrier, culture is freely mixing, translations are easily done by AI. Humanity can unite.

The notion of nation gives rise to the danger of nuclear war and delays climate action.

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I would add that in Prof. Mearsheimer’s realist theory of international relations “good guy” and “bad guy” have no relevance, and yet he refers to them on multiple occasions in the video posted in this thread. Just one more example of the inconsistent ways in which Mearsheimer conceptualizes the nature of international relations. By the way, as should be fairly apparent, Mearsheimer is a very polarizing figure in the academic community that studies international relations.

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I was once a military history and wargaming hobbyist in my younger years (mainly because of my surname led me to reading about World War II). So, I look at these events feeling a sense of deja vu. I can imagine that September of 1939 felt like this. Except in those days, there weren’t any ICBMs pointed at me. Today, I could literally be incinerated tomorrow or next week or next month. Who knows? I live in a city sure to be on a list of targets.

What’s really alarming to me is the similarity to what is happening in Russia and what happened in Germany post WWI. Like the Germans, the Russian political elite felt humiliated by the way the USSR collapsed, and the loss of status as a world power. This was something that happened because Gorbachev decided to do the moral thing and dismantle the Stalinist state. But Putin and others have decided that the West was really to blame in one way or another, and they are externalizing their frustration rather than looking in a mirror the way Gorbachev did. Ukraine is an opportunity to have a military catharsis because NATO must respect the fact the Russia has thousands of ICBMs to point at them while they “reunite with their wayward brethren.” Germany began its headlong charge into a world war claiming they were reuniting a German diaspora created by the new borders after WWI. First it was the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, then the rest of Czechoslovakia, Austria, and finally a chunk of Poland. Well, the Poles were the ones who said, “No,” and there was a war. It was a little war, seemingly a cakewalk for the Germans. But when Hitler crossed that line, he condemned Germany to being bombed into a smoldering ruin. It just took 6 years to reach that end.

The Russians are doing this with Ukraine, claiming that it’s really a Russian territory and there are Russians who should be part of Russia, and besides Ukraine as a nationality is a fiction. So, it goes beyond sphere of influence politics. It’s an attempt to reconstitute the lost Russian empire, and so I think Eastern Europe was wise to join NATO. If that had remained neutral, they could easily end up in the same place as Ukraine at the moment. Putin has written about these ideas at length, and it really looks very similar to Hilter’s emotional issues, feeling humiliated by a past defeat and feeling that he must launch a war to regain lost glory. If Gorbachev had not been forced out of power in 1991, I think the past twenty years would have looked very different. But instead, the militarists took up the reigns, and here we are.

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I think it’s important to not forget to ascribe agency to non-Western actors. It’s not the case that only NATO has agency, and everyone else is simply reacting to whatever the “the West” is doing.

No one is ever forced to send people to die in war. “Look what you made me do” is the abuser’s defense, aka gaslighting. Simply not harming others is always on the table.

IMO, this is the simplest and best explanation. Putin has been telling us who he is, and we should believe him.

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It’s heartbreaking to see the futility and cruelty of war break out once again. It is always the little people who suffer. Peoples lives are destroyed, their homes burned down, their nation and place of safety overrun. And on the aggressor side, young men get sent to kill, causing a lifetime of trauma for them, by cruel masters who care nothing for them.

Ukrainians in Kharkov “thank” Putin as their home burns in the background.

“Volodya, you did great! This is just what we wanted and hoped for from you. Now we have somewhere to live! You are a tsar and a god!”

pic.twitter.com/z5crAvYRHL


max seddon (@maxseddon) February
26, 2022

Thanks for letting us know! We’re honored to have an expert with experience to give input here. Is there anyone who you’d like to recommend that people follow? Any news sources, twitters, people whose perspective you turn to?


I gave a talk about this last Friday, and if anyone is interested it’s up here. Thanks Nellie!

One of the things I emphasized was the importance of making sure we listen to experts, especially when it comes to social media. I gave five points to help assess what makes a useful voice.

they have many years experience in the relevant field
they have made genuine positive contributions to the field, and are not just opinionistas or contrarians
they have a healthy and constructive relationship with peers and colleagues in the field
you don’t always agree with them; but when you disagree, you can see their point
they acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake

If you listen to someone on social media, ask yourself if they check all these boxes. If not, find someone who does. These things don’t guarantee that someone is worth listening to, but they do help filter out a lot of nonsense. Not every opinion deserves a hearing.

The last point is coming in handy these days, as there are a lot of people who are acknowledging that they got Putin wrong. Edward Snowden, for example, has admitted he called it wrong and has decided to be quiet for the time being. Agree or disagree with him, but that’s a principled response. If someone lacks the elementary moral compass to be able to admit their mistakes, their opinion is driven by ego not truth, and you should ignore them.

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This is an interesting question. As I was thinking about how to answer I was listening to an expert on geostrategic affairs who was saying things that conflicted with what other experts on geostrategic affairs have been saying over the last week. The invasion of Ukraine is an event of epic historical proportions that scholars will be arguing over for decades, if not centuries. Even to this day scholars differ on how to explain the outbreak of World War I. So finding reliable “experts” on matters such as this is a dicey affair.

Having said that, one of the wisest voices who tends to bring perspective to many matters is the historian Victor Davis Hanson at the Hoover Institution (on the campus of Stanford University). The Hoover Institution has a reputation for having certain biases (as all think tanks do), but as a historian, Victor Davis Hanson has the ability to place current events in a much wider historical context which is always useful.

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We humans are also strange beings. In some way we are fascinated by leaders with strong visions and ideas and are unscrupulous. We do certaintly not care that those leaders poison or murder people or put opponents in prison for invented crimes. They are also allowed to lie all the time. See Trump. But is everywhere. It is almost that we like dictators, strong leaders, inhumane persons, manipulators.

I think this is always lingering. This longing for a strong leader. Like we are still apes. If our own mindset would change such leaders would have no chance, but i am afraid we also facilitate them te become so powerful. In the end it is our fault.

What if: Somehow, meditation teachers can persuade and teach those people in warring countries to enter at least the 1st jhāna? No more war is ensured?

If the answer is yes then why don’t we give it a try?

Edit: Nevermind, it’s just a wishful thinking from my part that too drifted away from reality. :laughing:

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