We Cannot Ignore Buddhist Extremism—Lions Roar

Her term ended in 1990. In the year 2022 conservatives are far more extreme, being driven by anti-democratic motivations and hatred for many types of people.


The very idea that Buddhist practice can coexist with ideas of antidemocracy, bigotry, racism, and religious phobia (particularly toward Jews and Muslims) is deeply discouraging and shocking for those practitioners who are working toward inclusion and who embody the values of harmlessness and right speech.

I just read the article again. I think there is a mistake here. Whilst we might not like it, Buddhism can and has co-existed with anti-democracy. For example. King Ashoka. Ahoka’s Empire, being an Empire, was not democratic. It might be hard to accept, but it’s not against the Dhamma to have a non-democratic system such as Monarchy (the non-constitutional kind). When the early texts talk of the ideal political system, it is monarchy they refer to not democracy.

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Her term ended in 1990. In the year 2022 conservatives are far more extreme, being driven by anti-democratic motivations and hatred for many types of people.

Sorry but for the vast majority of conservatives, at least in the UK and Europe, this isn’t true. This is just group-think again.

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No. there is no confusion. I know who the admin team are and I have seen what they have posted and what they have allowed to stand. That a “well known nazi sympathiser” was a member for such a long time says it all.

Right wing extremism indulged in by Buddhists , anti Islam, anti-Semitism, misogyny, anti “woke” conspiracy etc. was definitely given a lot of space in that forum. Very little push back.

There was some discussion of my politics? :smile:

I’d hardly call myself right wing. I’ve always considered myself a centrist. Yes, I have referred to myself as a libertarian of sorts in the past, but rarely vote for Libertarian candidates. Ceisiwr’s assessment is correct. I imagine most Libertarians and Republicans would call me a liberal or progressive or even leftist.

I support universal education (free through university)
I support civil rights for all (LGBT, religion, nationality, race, ethnicity, etc)
I support universal health care (there goes any claim to be right wing)
I support nationalized utilities (to avoid price gouging, trusts, cartels)

Conservatives in the U.S. are opposed to all of the above, except civil rights.

I don’t think you will find a single misogynistic post by me at any of the forums I post in. I supported bhikkhuni ordinations before I was even on the internet for the first time over 22 years ago. I have been a vocal advocate of bhikkhuni full ordinations at e-sangha in the past and DW forums currently. I hosted Ajahn Brahm at my place. I have had retreats at my place led by bhikkhunis.

In previous election cycles, I always supported Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii.

As far as anti-semitism goes, I don’t think you’ll find a single anti-semitic post from me either. I’m a Jew and can speak, read, write Hebrew.



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Luckily David has posted himself above, to clear up the confusion. Regarding the troubling member I mentioned, what you do not know is that said person has been the bane of DW and many other Buddhist websites, including this one, for years and years. When banned, they simply make up another account. After so many it was felt the best thing to do was let them post, but to monitor their posts. Just before they were banned again, each of his posts had to be mod approved. Now, I’m not saying that some of his posts didn’t get through (before the mod approval came in). They likely did, as the team there isn’t free to monitor everything all of the time. What I do know is the vast majority of the offending material was removed within a day or so. Also, as I already mentioned, what you do not know either is the number of posts and members which are removed on a day to day, week by week, month to month basis.

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I agree with you on that point, not just Ashoka, there were historically absolute monarchies in traditional Buddhist countries as well. But it has to be said there were no democracies or parliamentary systems around at the time to make a valid comparison here. So I don’t think this was what the article meant.

What I think the authors were meaning by “ideas of anti democracy” pertain to the current 21st century climate where there are movements aiming to dismantle the democratic process in favour of ‘soft authoritarian’ rule by a single individual/select political class/agenda.

This article covers three models by which this is achieved, and I quote, one of them is…

…. the polarization model where you appeal to your populist base by stirring up racism, smearing opponents, and attacking norms of democratic governance and making sure there are means of no cross-party or non-partisan or bi-partisan efforts to save them and make something out of democracy.

Those who feel the system hasn’t or doesn’t work for them may feel they need to instigate a change. But if these individuals think stirring up hatred, phobias, and discrimination against minorities in order to gain power, it goes against the foundations of the Buddha’s N8FP, no?

I’m not sure that is a good example. Tulsi has a long record anti-gay, transphobic rhetoric and behavior although she did try and back away from it when running for president: " Since ending her presidential campaign, Gabbard has taken conservative positions on culture war issues, including abortion and transgender rights.[15][16][17][18] Gabbard endorsed Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Act[a] and in 2022 was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).[20]"

Correct, she supported LGBT+ rights when she was running for POTUS and that’s when I supported her. She has apparently moved more to the right, since then. It doesn’t appear that she will be running again, anyway. But when I supported her she was a Democrat Congresswoman and did support LGBT+ (2016 and 2020 election cycles). I’m not dogmatic to any party and typically will sometimes vote for a moderate Republican and sometimes for a moderate Democrat. Their ideology and if they are anti-war is more important to me, than their party affiliation.


I just wanted to point out that the even though the Buddha would not have voted for the right, he would not have voted for the left either.

He would have pointed out that this is all a mirage dreamt up by analyst teams, who are constantly looking for polarizing topics and testing them out (take Trump’s “build a wall” for example, that became a slogan after it did really well on Twitter).

Back then he had to deal with all kind of sociopathic rulers, addressing them by “great king” and making sure they don’t get crazy during the teachings, for instance while asking about if their dead wife was in heaven or hell. Imagine having to meet someone like Trump, except with a sword. Or trying to teach Biden meditation while he’s falling asleep.

I wonder if he would be cancelled though, because I’m pretty sure he was against most abortions, drug use and sexual liberation.

May all beings be happy and well, even if their political views are different.

There was no confusion. As I said I know who the admin team are and I have seen what they have posted and what they have allowed to stand.

The extremism at Dhammawheel was not just one person . There was a whole culture. It was legitimized.

I think the thing is you don’t want to acknowledge far right politics, as extreme.

To be clear, this is not what I said. I said it was a red flag; and given that one member questioned this and then immediately posted a link to a nazi sympathizer, I’m feeling pretty good about that assessment.

Nevertheless, I appreciate your thoughtful contribution, and I’m glad that JP’s teachings helped you at that point in your life.


Hi Eharp,
If you and @DhammaWiki could continue this line of discussion in a PM, that would be great.


The Vajjika Confederacy had a democracy of sorts, as an oligarchic republic. You are right though. Democracy as we understand it wasn’t around back then. I agree what the author might have had in mind were contemporary movements who want to replace democracy with some kind of authoritarian rule. I imagine what they had in mind were fascists, neo-nazis and the like. What about monarchists though? I am a monarchist myself, and whilst I wish for a greater role for the Sovereign I’m not quite wanting to abolish our current parliamentary system in favour of direct rule from the Queen. Let’s say however I do want that. A return to a more pure form of monarchy (not necessarily absolute), would that be in keeping with the Dhamma? I think it might actually.

Those who feel the system hasn’t or doesn’t work for them may feel they need to instigate a change. But if these individuals think stirring up hatred, phobias, and discrimination against minorities in order to gain power, it goes against the foundations of the Buddha’s N8FP, no?

Yes I agree. To go back to what I just said though, if someone wants to replace say British parliamentary democracy with more direct rule from the Crown, because they feel that would unite the country (arguments said people do make) is that against the foundations of the NEFP?

I do recall a time, in past lives, when the Left was about workers rights and related to the majority of people or “the collective”. Therefore, the Left also introduced Universal Health Care, Free Universities, Capital Gains Tax, Pension Plans/Superannunation & other social benefits for “the collective”. Are you suggesting ‘the Left’ is now mostly concerned with “minority rights” rather than “collective rights”? Or has “climate change” instead of “workers rights” now become the “collective mantra” of the Left?

The narrative above I think is quite risky for a Buddhist to hold because Al Jazeera is a Qatar news agency and Vice President Biden himself under Obama made a public statement at Harvard University that Qatar was funding the ISIS terrorists. I think it best for Buddhists who simply follow mass-media to avoid such convictions. Whether you follow CNN, Al Jazeera or RT, there will be political narratives (aka propaganda). Best to be well informed rather than contribute to a foreign war where international mercenaries are actually involved. Tulsi Gabbard’s former extreme anti-LGBTQ Hinduism is unrelated to her stance on Syria or Iraq. Keep in mind, she was part of the military in Iraq.

Hi all,
Just a quick reminder to continue bearing in mind the OP and make sure your post relates to this and Buddhism rather than broader political generalisations.


I think policing on line extreme behaviour is really difficult. Just ask Facebook. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an obligation to try.

I also don’t think that we can hide behind “some of my best friends are black/gay/bhikkhunis” when defending a forum we are responsible for. A few months ago someone made a post on DhammaWheel that was basically a bhikkhuni rape fantasy. I didn’t even bother trying to report it because I was sure that I would just be met with “That’s not against our ToS, sorry.”

As well, the argument of “Well, you should see all the bad stuff we remove,” is also quite hollow. Again, I know that moderating forums is difficult. But if you are going to make a forum, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s not a breeding ground for bad things. Just like any place of public accommodation, if you create a dangerous situation, then you are responsible for the outcome. I realize, though, that not everyone will agree with this.

I think that online mysoginistic, racist, trans-phobic behaviour is endemic on the internet. It’s really no surprise at all that we would be finding it in Buddhist forums. The question is whether or not Buddhist forums are accepting of that behaviour. I only participated in E-Sangha in the very twilight moments of it’s existence. But I doubt if the current right-wing stuff was it’s downfall. From what I hear it was more an issue of sectarianism and over-moderation based on that. I think the creation of separate wheel forums was a good remedy to that. However tight moderation is not an evil in and of itself. And liberal moderation is not a universal solution.


Hi Bhante,

There was a falling-out on ESangha over the independence of the Theravada moderators, which led to the creation of DhammaWheel (Theravada). There were also similar fallings-out by the Zen group. ESangha went down some time later (allegedly it was hacked) and David helped them out by creating DharmaWheel (Mahayana).

I was on retreat when the ESangha bustup happened, but my understanding is that the anti-any-censorship attitude at DhammaWheel was a reaction to some of the heavy-handedness at ESangha (where you’d be banned for questioning whether the Buddha taught rebirth, for example).

As others have said, it’s posters who have views, rather than a Forum, but there was certainly a dramatic change in style when the current Admin took over at a few years ago, and my observation would be that it has tended to attract many posters who lean strongly to the right whereas posters at DharmaWheel (Mahayana) tend to be left-leaning (like this Forum).

I don’t have anything against traditional Conservatism, but I find aspects of the modern right-wing aggressively anti-woke, anti-expert (anti-vax being just a small part of that) attitude deeply concerning.


Again, I think none of what is written above is specifically “left-wing” or “right-wing”. What is deeply concerning to me is labelling whatever you disagree with as “right wing”. Its fine to be concerned with so-called ‘Buddhist Extremism’, such as anti-LBGT, anti-Islam, etc, but to label these matters as “right-wing” I think is an extreme error and itself a form a extremism. People who oppose regime change wars, people who may support ex-Communist Russia in Ukraine, people who don’t support getting a certain vaccine, etc, are not necessary “right wing”. In fact, once upon a time, those who in general opposed ‘The Establishment’ were considered ‘Left-Wing’. I personally find your narrative very confusing, just as a previous poster said supporting Saudi Arabia was “right wing” when every American government since the 1930s has supported the British Empire created state of Saudi Arabia. For me, its getting very close to false speech to accuse people who may be from the Traditional Left or people who may be traditional religious people (such as simple Catholics) as being “right wing”. I think as a Buddhist, one should be very careful about the labels they use. If a person is homophobic then label then certainly label them as ‘homophobic’. But please don’t call them “right-wing”. :slightly_smiling_face: