I wish people would recognize that what most human-units refer to as "Buddhism" is a collection of trouble-shooting reports from people who have chosen to sit and trouble-shoot their own consciousness from the inside of same... in isolation, away from the vigors of what legions of other humans "have chosen as their own path of learning" (to use a Buddhist notion).
It should come as no surprise that the great traditions of pacifism emerge from great religions of civilization: Christian, Buddhist, Hindu.
I recently saw an interview with longtime pacifist activist Philip Berrigan— one of the last before he died—in which he stated more or less proudly that spiritual-based pacifism is not meant to change things in the physical world, but relies on a Christian God to fix things. The interviewer had asked, “What do you say to critics of the Plowshares movement who claim that your actions have not produced tangible results?”
Berrigan answered, and especially note his second and third sentences: “Americans want to see results because we’re pragmatists. God doesn’t require results. God requires faithfulness. You try to do an act of social justice, and do it lovingly. You don’t threaten anybody or hurt any military personnel during these actions. And you take the heat. You stand by and wait for the arrest.”
I can’t speak for Berrigan, but I want to see results because the planet is being killed.
In any case, I think Berrigan is wrong. If there is a Christian God, and if several thousand years of history is any indication, He is not, to use the woman’s term, on the side of the light. Given all evidence, I’m not sure I want to count on a Christian God to halt environmental destruction.
The Dalai Lama takes a more rounded, intelligent, and useful view on violence. He is, in addition, very aware of his premises, and tries to state them when he can. He has said, “Violence is like a very strong pill. For a certain illness, it may be very useful, but the side effects are enormous. On a practical level it’s very complicated, so it’s much safer to avoid acts of violence.” He then continued, “There is a pertinent point in the Vinaya literature, which explains the disciplinary codes that monks and nuns must observe to retain the purity of their vows. Take the example of a monk or a nun confronting a situation where there are only two alternatives: either to take the life of another person, or to take one’s own life. Under such circumstances, taking one’s life is justified to avoid taking the life of another human being, which would entail transgressing one of the four cardinal vows.” His next sentence reveals the whole point, and brings this discussion home: “Of course, this assumes one accepts the theory of rebirth; otherwise this is very silly.”
All of which leads to the sixteenth premise of the book: The material world is primary. This does not mean that the spirit does not exist, nor that the material world is all there is. It means that spirit mixes with flesh. It means also that real world actions have real world consequences. It means we cannot rely on Jesus, Santa Claus, the Great Mother, or even the Easter Bunny to get us out of this mess. It means this mess really is a mess, and not just the movement of God’s eyebrows. It means we have to face this mess ourselves (even if we do get some help from the Easter Bunny and others). It means that for the time we are here on Earth—whether or not we end up somewhere else after we die, and whether we are condemned or privileged to live here—the Earth is the point. It is primary. It is our home. It is everything. It is “very silly” to think or act or be as though this world is not real and primary. It is very silly and pathetic to not live our lives as though our lives are real.
« Older Christopher Lee has recorded a symphonic metal alb... | James Stipe, a Marine, alleged... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt