Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Can or should Buddhists engage in controversy or polemics?

Expand Messages
  • Rob
    ... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Since you are going with Mahayana / Lotus Sutra, how does the story of Jofukyo fit? As his name implies, he was always disparaged by
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 1 2:42 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      --- In SokaGakkaiUnofficial@yahoogroups.com, "steve_is_a_buddha" <steve_is_a_buddha@...> wrote:

      > What I am leading to is this: this ease with polemic is part of the Western tradition because it is what Jesus did. The figure of Jesus (as opposed to the Buddha) is that of the underdog who speaks the truth to power. The parables of the New Testament are more real, compelling and moral than those of the Lotus Sutra. Compare the "Good Samaritan" to the "Burning House". In the "Good Samaritan" - there are two outcasts - the robbed man lying at the side of the road, and the Samaritan - the Samaritan is the hero, saves the man, and arranges for his medical care to be paid. In the "Burning House" the father saves his children burning inside the house by telling them he has some sweets outside. The Samaritan puts himself on the line, makes a sacrifice, ignores difference in ethnicity, in contrast to the priest who walks on the other side of the road. The father in the burning house story does a kind of life-or-death trick-or-treat.

      Since you are going with Mahayana / Lotus Sutra, how does the story of Jofukyo fit? As his name implies, he was always disparaged by others, but never retaliated in kind; he never disparaged others.

      Controversy and polemics tend to get personal. It becomes about who is right, not what is right. The Buddha {of the Nikayas, the real person} refuted many worthy sages, but generally won them over in the process. His harsh scolding of Devadatta stands out as an exception. Still, that was about Devadatta's misdeeds and wrong views.

      As for Soka Gakkai, Ikeda has annoyed the political left and right by stressing friendship and good will over political alignment. He has engaged in cheerful dialogs with some nefarious people on the fringes of both political aisles, or even isles, pun intended. Ikeda did let his conflict with Nikken get personal; which is likely why he uses the Devadatta story as a rationale.

      Ikeda has also talked about how historical Buddhism might have become too compassionate and too forbearing; which gave them cover to accept patronage from influential but unsavory individuals, without making the effort to help those influential but unsavory individuals self-reform.

      While SGI pubs are often fuzzy, I think Ikeda has, for the most part, by his actions, if not his mouth, demonstrated a grasp of karma as volitional moral causality. Hatred {anger / enmity, envy, stinginess, ...}, greed {lust / emotional attachment / pride, ...}, and foolish nonsense {confusion, superstition, ignorance ...} are never morally wholesome. However, not all phenomena have a moral value. Material power and spiritual energy or enthusiasm are, for example, morally neutral. Devadatta acquired quite a bit of both; which only made him more dangerous.

      In politics, polemical people tend to align with camps, not right ideas and deeds, and then use furtherance of the 'good guys' as an excuse for misdeeds ranging from unseemly to heinous. Their views tend to get polarized. The left, for example, tends to view nuclear power as an absolute moral evil.

      Ikeda has opposed the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons, a left wing view. However, he has supported the peaceful use of nuclear power; which the left tends to rather passionately oppose. IOW, Ikeda has viewed Nuclear Power itself as morally neutral.

      > There is also I believe a certain timidity as well: not wishing to be attached to any position that you might be called on later.

      Well, emotional attachment {raga} is a fundamentally unwholesome phenomena. The solution is not a-raga, in the sense of emotional aloofness or fence sitting; but rather vi-raga -- dispassion or non-attachment. I do not think rigorous non-attachment to fixed, polarized, or extreme views is at all timid; it takes courage.

      -- In SokaGakkaiUnofficial@yahoogroups.com, "summerhour2006"
      <summerhour2006@...> wrote:
      < a commitment to sugariness which makes intellectual courage, *daring*, and *passion* seem an offense.

      'sugariness' in that sense implies insincere or fawning flattery, a form of wrong speech. That is not the same as authentic kindness. Real kindness spawns real compassion and patient tolerance; which are morally wholesome.

      'Daring' can also be recklessness, which is not desirable.

      Passion is one of those words with conflicting meanings. In the sense of ardor, vim and vigor, or enthusiasm; it is the same as the Indic word virya -- a morally neutral but generally desirable quality. As the opposite of dispassion, passion is the same as raga -- a morally unwholesome emotional attachment. In the word compassion, it means suffering -- the prefix com means 'together with] -- thus compassion means a sharing of, an empathy for, the suffering of others.


      Sign on the office door of a burnt out salesman: "Temporarily Out of Ardor."
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.