Thursday, November 17, 2011

Control Part 3

Carrying the self forward and confirming the universe is delusion.

The political and social realm is often the self writ large. Therefore, the "carrying the self" as the basis of fixing and changing is delusion and attachment that results in suffering and harm on the so-called individual level and for the so-called larger body politic.

In the midst of beginningless greed, anger and delusion, in the midst of the ignorance of dualistic self-centeredness, fiddling with improving and fixing by changing the self, the individual self or self of larger political and social entities (all the varied self manifestations),  may be unskillful - unless our effort is in the midst of at-one-ment, unless it is in the midst of nondoing, nonthinking, it may be driven by reactive self-centeredness.

The use of the control of others is an interesting phenomenon, a counterpoint to various self-improvement enterprises.

It may be hard for us to appreciate that Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, to name a few of the most notorious of twentieth century political leaders, were all trying to fix problems in the lives of  their nation, to improve the lives of their people.

They attempted to use governmental control of others as the way to improve the lives of the people.

Unfortunately, they also believed that there were those who were not included as the people, as "their people", as "their nation."

The "not included" were based on ethnic and racial criteria, religious criteria, social and economic positions, and even intellectual and educational status. It might be the Aryans versus non-Aryan, workers versus the capitalists, or even the 99% versus the 1%.

And this exclusion, this dualism of "included" versus "not-included", has justified all sorts of evils done to those not included. The above noted political leaders were so sure of their own vision (as were many other leaders throughout history) of what was right that they were willing to do all sorts of harm and violence, we can say evil,  in their attempt to attain their vision, to justify their vision. And we know the results of that in killing and suffering in the twentieth century.

In the twenty first century this continues, with extremists on the political left and right who justify using governmental power (and extra-governmental means) to enforce their vision on others and justify their abuses of power in the name of their vision.

This is also found in a number of non-governmental extremist movements in different parts of the world. In general, these sorts of extremist movements justify terrorism against those who are excluded from "their people," who believe and live by political and social norms different than their own, or against those who are not willing to submit to their control.

A recent worldwide example of this is the various forms of Islamist extremists (especially in the Middle East, Africa and south Asia) who justify terrorism against those not included in "their people", those whom they often denigrate by calling them infidels. This is evident in conflict between Sunni vs Shia Muslims, or Muslims vs non-Muslims or simply attacks on those who by the Islamist's standards have "insulted" Islam or not-followed a particular form of Islamic rules.

When we do not see and manifest Shakyamuni Buddha's  "I and all beings of the great earth together attain the way" then we believe that dualistic self-centeredness is natural. For all of us this perpetuates suffering and harm. And when we act it out politically the results are increased suffering and harm.

to be continued...

(c) 2011 Elihu Genmyo Smith