Two Words

Asked to square, in a few words, my Buddhist practice with my conservative politics I’d say: First Amendment.  Freedom of religion is embedded in the First Amendment which is in turn embedded in the United States Constitution which is protected by the elected government of the United States whose power secures the borders of our nation.  The belief that things like border security and the existence of the nation state and the use of military power are all unenlightened notions destined for an inevitable and foreseeable obsolesence… this belief is a fairy tale.

Likewise the beliefs:  1) that there exist no real enemies of First Amendment freedoms; or 2) that such enemies can be easily reasoned into a state of tolerance and understanding; or 3) that the greatest enemy of those freedoms can invariably be located in some convenient-to-assault citadel like the Bush/Cheney administration, instead of some sketchy neighborhood like the hills of Afghanistan.  Fairy tales, all.

In point of fact, Islam (to choose, not entirely at random, one powerful contemporary force for religious intolerance) has been a savage enemy of Buddhism for a thousand years and more.   Read, for instance, this.

 I understand that much of modern Buddhist thinking seems to begin and, alas, end with the “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred only ceases by love” stanza of the Dammaphada.  I also understand that there is much more to say on this subject.  Because neither is hatred ended by wishful thinking and idiot compassion.  And because, strange to say, there is a kind of “tough love” bound up the brittle words of the First Amendment.

PS: You’ll let me know, woncha, when they open one of these or these in Tehran or Riyadh.  So we know we’ve got some of that “Hatred does not cease by hatred” action going at both ends.


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