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Collective Karma and Conservative Buddhists

Final week I put up a video titled “Collective Karma and Conservative Buddhists.” Earlier than I made that video, I typed out what I needed to say. Right here’s what I typed out for myself. I didn’t comply with this script exactly, however what I mentioned on the video was fairly comparable.

Tomorrow some sort of on-line discussion board of American Buddhists is happening by which the keynote speaker will current an instructional paper, a part of which is successful piece on me. After I first learn the paper myself I believed the creator was simply making stuff up as a result of I didn’t recall ever saying most of what the creator says that I mentioned. However the creator supplies references, so I seemed on the precise articles of mine which might be cited. It seems that the creator paraphrases issues I mentioned in ways in which distort their that means with a purpose to make them match the factors the creator is making an attempt to make. However my writings stay as they’re and any reader can do their very own analysis and see what I truly mentioned.

I thought of going point-by-point by means of the paper to elucidate how incorrect it’s. However that might take a whole lot of effort, and it simply doesn’t appear well worth the bother.

There may be one level, nevertheless, that I do suppose is vital sufficient to deal with. The creator takes me to job for not realizing in regards to the idea of “collective karma,” which is an idea that the creator appears to be very keen on. However the creator doesn’t handle the explanations which I clearly said about why I reject the concept of “collective karma.” So let me state them right here.

The thought of “collective karma” is that if the racial, ethnic, or nationwide group that one is seen as belonging to did unhealthy issues up to now, then every member of that group is liable for these unhealthy issues. This can be a disgusting concept and I reject it fully. 

I’ve all the time mentioned that karma is one thing it’s best to solely level at your self. After I was a child, my dad would allow us to play with toy weapons however provided that we by no means pointed the gun at anybody else. That was the rule. I apply that rule to speaking about karma and the implications of my actions. I by no means level karma at another person and say, “You or your ancestors will need to have completed one thing unhealthy up to now and that’s why you’re struggling now.” 

The idea of “collective karma” is an excessive amount of just like the Christian concept of the Curse of Ham. Right here’s how Wikipedia describes the Curse of Ham. “The curse of Ham happens within the Ebook of Genesis, imposed by the patriarch Noah. It happens within the context of Noah’s drunkenness and is provoked by a shameful act perpetrated by Noah’s son Ham, who “noticed the nakedness of his father”.[1] …

“The story’s authentic objective might have been to justify the subjection of the Canaanite folks to the Israelites,[3] however in later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Christians and Jews as a proof for black pores and skin, in addition to a justification for slavery of black folks.[4] Equally, the Latter Day Saint motion used the curse of Ham to forestall the ordination of black males to its priesthood.[5][6]

Equally, the concept of “collective karma” is commonly utilized in India as a justification for the caste system, and in Japan to justify the mistreatment of the burakumin folks, whose ancestors had been within the butchering trade, which was thought of a sinful career by many Buddhists. That’s the reason I don’t like the concept of “collective karma.” Irrespective of who you level the notion of “collective karma” at, nothing good can come of it.

And simply FYI, right here’s a few of what I mentioned about collective karma in one of many articles that will get criticized by the creator of that paper: 

The main downside for me with the notion of ‘collective karma’ isn’t that it appears like an assault upon what’s seen as my very own private collective of white males. Fairly it’s the terribly apparent ugliness that follows [from that idea].

…For instance… a perception in collective karma can be utilized to say that Jews dwelling in Europe within the 1930’s will need to have completed horrible issues of their previous lives and thus the Holocaust was their collective karma. Or what about West Africans within the 17th by means of 19th centuries? Was it their collective karma to be taken as slaves? 

And if we need to preserve going, what about these a lot talked about privileges loved by white males of at this time? Wouldn’t that point out some sort of optimistic collective karma? If we take the concept of collective racial and gender karma to its logical conclusion then it could appear to be completely karmically justified and honest that white males get to be in command of so many issues. Which is a horrible concept!

For this reason I reject the concept of collective karma. Not as a result of it factors fingers at me as a white man who shares collective blame for the numerous unhealthy actions of white males, however as a result of it may be used to justify and perpetuate some actually horrible concepts.

The remainder of the paper is about how American Convert Buddhism, which is Buddhism in America practiced by folks like me who weren’t  born into it, has historically been very left-leaning in its politics. However these days it’s being corrupted by proper wing forces like me. Really I’m known as a “reactionary centrist,” which is somebody whose politics are centrist however who “punches left,” i.e. criticizes leftist politics.

This can be a fairly widespread concept amongst some American Buddhist as of late. However there are issues with this concept that I believe are value discussing.

The creator of the paper fails to level out that the leftism of American Convert Buddhism is an anomaly. In the remainder of the world, Buddhists are typically largely politically conservative. That is what I found a lot to my shock after I lived in Japan. 

It’s identical to some other faith in that regard. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are typically politically conservative. There are liberals in these religions too, in fact. However they’re the minority. The identical is true for Buddhists in the remainder of the world, which is the overwhelming majority of Buddhists total.

This makes excellent sense if you concentrate on it. Spiritual folks are typically individuals who prefer to preserve traditions from the previous. Additionally they are likely to suppose the identical manner about political issues.

 The explanation that leftists are likely to dominate American Convert Buddhism is due to the way in which Buddhism first turned vital amongst non-immigrant Individuals. It was a part of the sixties hippie motion by which members of the Child Growth era, who had been born within the decade and a half after the top of World Struggle 2, rejected the conservatism of their mother and father’ era. To grow to be a Buddhist within the sixties and seventies was to reject custom. Additionally, Buddhism first turned widespread in these days in massive coastal cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, by which leftist politics are predominant. 

As Buddhism has grown in America it has left that bubble of Coastal Child Boomers and has been embraced by increasingly folks within the so-called “Flyover States,” together with folks like me. Because it continues to be embraced by folks aside from these on the coasts and people of the Child Growth era, and as Buddhism turns into extra of a practice on this nation slightly than a novelty, I anticipate American Convert Buddhism to grow to be increasingly politically conservative. We’d higher get used to it, I believe.

One of many actually unhealthy concepts that appears to be embraced by a whole lot of American Buddhists from the Child Growth era and from the big coastal cities is that leftist political values are extra consistent with the values of Buddhism. Buddhists are into “saving all beings” and treating folks with “loving kindness,” and isn’t that what leftist politics is all about?

I used to suppose so myself. So what I’m about to say is one thing that it took me fairly a very long time to return to phrases with. I actually struggled with this. So I anticipate a few of you on the market listening to it should discover it tough like I did.

However the concept that solely liberals or leftists care about saving all beings and treating folks with loving kindness is wrong. One instance of how this performs out can be the distinction in liberals and conservatives views in regards to the navy. A leftist tends to suppose, as I tended to suppose, that if an individual is anti-war he should even be in favor of chopping navy budgets and ending issues just like the testing of superior weapons. Zero Defex (the band I play bass in) performed a whole lot of anti-nuclear rallies and I used to put on a pin on my shirt that mentioned “Nuclear Freeze.” Subsequently, many individuals suppose, as I did, that anybody who’s in favor of elevated navy spending and the continued testing of superior weapons should due to this fact be pro-war.

However this isn’t essentially the case. Many conservatives favor navy spending and weapons testing as a result of they’re anti-war. They imagine that having a powerful navy is one of the simplest ways to forestall conflict. 

I don’t need to argue which place is appropriate. I simply need to say that we shouldn’t robotically attribute unhealthy motives to folks with whom we disagree. It’s higher to be taught extra about those that maintain totally different views from you on these sorts of issues. While you perceive why they maintain these views you could be shocked, like I used to be. Then maybe you could find methods to realize frequent goals.

Additionally, from the Buddhist viewpoint, I believe we must always perceive that those that oppose us are usually not in the end totally different from us. All of us spring from the identical supply. We’re like a jigsaw puzzle that has been damaged aside. We will solely kind the large image when everybody finds a strategy to stay with one another’s variations.



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