Posts Tagged ‘sila’

Friends bearing gifts – promiscuancy

Posted: 13/02/2013 by zandtao in Insight
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Recently I was involved in a discussion with someone online about the sexual misconduct precept. His approach – marriage was damaged, friends with benefits had its problems but didn’t hurt nearly as much. He quoted many figures about how damaged marriage is. I think there is much harm caused by those who play around even if the sex is consensual, and of course the fact that there is such sex available contributes greatly to the breakdown of marriage. For me the breakdown of marriage is intimately connected with the breakdown of society.

A few days later this story emerged, make of it what you will:-

Read the story – with epilog.

Corollary – This is the first stab at sci-fi in three years. During meditation the idea was so strong, was even writing in the middle of the night. But at the end no buzz nothing. Ah well.

Epilogue added 15/2/13

Santikaro

Posted: 09/02/2013 by zandtao in ONE planet
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Note:- On rereading this I appear to be putting words into the mouth of Santikaro. Please note he has not read nor has he ever given any personal indication or otherwise that he supports what I say. The purpose of the blogpost – apart from my meanderings it is an attempt to draw attention to someone who can be helpful.

Santikaro is a monk based in the US who has strong links with Thailand, he was a monk learning from Ajaan Buddhadhasa at Suan Mokh. His monastery is Liberation Park, and he runs an online forum (Buddhadasa Yahoo Group) to discuss Tan Buddhadhasa’s teachings. Earlier I often looked at Tan Ajaan’s teachings, and so joined his forum. (There are unintended inaccuracies in this paragraph – please see Santikaro’s comment below).

Paraphrasing (as I’ve lost the quote) I read this on one of his postings:-

The middle way between the extremes of engagement and non-engagement, egoistic responsibility and egoistic non-responsibiltiy, is a compassionate skilful participation in daily life. No instructions here but very clear direction. I have to be concerned about my demands for engagement on the part of theoretical Buddhists, but equally I have to be sufficiently detached to make sure my engagement is compassionate and skilful. I suspect I appear too demanding but mostly I ask only for recognising what is and then looking for compassion.

In an earlier post he raised this – I believe he was translating it from something Tan Ajaan had writted:-

“Spiritually empirical science

“As we stated from the beginning, we will study Buddhism scientifically, that is, as a spiritual science.

“When we speak of spiritual science, we mean that we must study and learn through our own spiritual experience rather than from scriptures and texts. In Buddhism, we practice spiritual science by observing and investigating dukkha as it actually occurs in our hearts and minds (citta). We search out the causes and conditions of that suffering and learn how to remove them in order to be free of all suffering, misery, and distress. In this way, there is direct spiritual experience of these matters, not mere hypotheses and theories. When we approach Buddhism as spiritual science, we will not have any problems regarding the accuracy of the scriptures, worries about mistakes and inaccuracies that may have crept in over the centuries, or whatever other doubts might arise. These will not trouble us, because we will be able to verify Buddha-Dhamma for ourselves, in our inner spiritual experience.”

This is again down my street, it is not dogma but understanding. Someone surprised me when they wrote about spirituality without belief, this is similar, Thay describes Nirvana as “without concepts”. When people are critical of monks then it is worth considering that all these three were lifelong monks. Santikaro’s approach is similar to what I previously discussed as a dilemma “beyond dogma”. Funnily enough I was recently reading posts from the forum, and felt that they were doing the usual online game of sutta snap and dogmabolloxia. In truth that is totally unfair. I work hard at never discussing dogma but try to look from my experience. I denounce intellectualism ad nauseum probably to the extent of being a worn record. Yet I get into an ill-fated discussion with an academic in which he described my blog as intellectual. Once over the insult I thought we can never tell whether it is dogma from the written word. For me the 4NT has tremendous meaning but there is nothing new nor creative in any description I can give of 4NT so am I just dogmabolloxic?

When I read Santikaro’s/ Tan Ajaan’s spiritual empirical science I was reminded of HHDL (interestingly enough a similar approach to Vedanta), he describes meditation as an empirical science. Meditators mostly end up going the same way, as the title of the “surprise” blog – spirituality without belief.

Tan Ajaan/Santikaro expanded “Nor need we worry over considerations of the various environmental and cultural factors. When we take Buddhism as a spiritual science, we need not be overly interested in such matters, to the degree that they become distractions. Quite a few Westerner scholars of Buddhism focus on India, and on its history, geography, politics, philosophy, and the like. They go too far with unnecessary things like comparative psychology before they get around to actually studying Buddhism itself. Do not waste time on non-essentials. Instead, focus on direct spiritual experience. I’d like to say that even the Buddha’s life story is unnecessary. In the Buddha’s time, nobody studied the details of his life as is done nowadays.”

I suspect significant in the focus on locality and the Buddha’s life is what has become a divisive issue – “what the Buddha said”. Within Buddhism there are two main traditions – Theravada and Mahayana. I am no scholar of these issues so I have to be careful what I say. It appears that the dominant theme in deciding on which tradition is “what the Buddha said”, Theravada accepts the Tripitaka as “what the Buddha said” Mahayana accepts more. But not only does Mahayana accept more some Mahayana accepts books written by others. The Tibetan tradition has its own writers such as Tshongkapa, and Zen – Shobogenzo. But even within Theravada there has to be doubts as to “what the Buddha said” as the earliest people to write down what he said did so some 50 to years later at a council – Bhikhu Bodhi wrote a paper on the origins but I can’t find it. Theravadan Buddhists claim that the oral tradition was so strong that within 50 years the recall was verbatim, can this be true?

It seems to me that when it comes to religious understanding it is not what someone says but how it is understood that matters. Basically it appears to me that the Buddhisms are divided by dogma and not by understanding, but that is true within Buddhism and between all religions – what matters is the Path (whatever word you choose) and not the written word. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha basically said don’t believe me work it out for yourself:-

“Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias towards a notion pondered over, nor upon another’s seeming ability, nor upon the consideration ‘The monk is our teacher.’ When you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them… When you yourselves know: ‘These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

– here is Bhikhu Bodhi’s take on the sutta. I believe this is what Santikaro is saying, and I presume what Tan Ajaan said. Someone told me that Tan Ajaan summarised Buddhism as “Be Good”, nothing more needs saying.

Corollary

On a different forum I entered into discussion with someone concerning the sexual misconduct precept. It was basically about casual sex vs marriage. The guy was American, appearing quite US-centric to me, and was anti-marriage with all its problems. The logic is therefore casual sex doesn’t hurt. After a few email bounces his position appeared to change to that of casual sex causes less harm. I introduced the notion of the family being integral to social fabric, and whilst he agreed the US was breaking down he did not accept that the family had much/anything to do with it. I then started with the home and he replied with this:-

“We have some differences on the causes of problems, but as it seems to be
more a matter of social studies or politics than the Dhamma, and I think
we’ve both made our positions fairly clear, perhaps it’s time to let this
one go? Thank you for a good conversation,”

I could take this at face value or I could conclude that the wider implications of casual sex might be hitting home. But what I don’t accept is that this is not Buddhism. It might not be Buddhist theory and it might not be full of dogmabolloxic terms but it is about awareness. What I was seeing from this man was contemporary assumptions such as:-

Casual sex does not hurt.
The traditional home treats women as chattels – his word.

When I was young in the 70s I rejected marriage because I saw it as a consumer unit, of course the reality for the rejection was all the harm it had caused me. Being forced to stay in marriage is unacceptable, but the extended family is a structure of love, it is supportive providing strength in adversity. When communities are small and people are connected by family there is much to be seen that is positive. But when a marriage is governed by money, and a community governed by the same, there is competition – keeping up with the Jones’s; the money and status replaces love.

Thai family feels intensely oppressive to me, but it is a family-based culture. I would hate the idea of being tagged on to such a family but I feel the family is the backbone of the stability of rural Thailand – a place that I consider is pleasant – far from perfect but pleasant. I suspect the US is also a good example of this, I get the feeling that rural US is also pleasant.

But these people get educated – miseducated. The school brings people into the money economy accepting the need for wage-slavery. It is not whether there is servitude but which servitude you choose. Of course we need to work for and in our societies, but there is no choice about working in a non-dollar communtiy. Schools do not present in their curricula the advantages of farming communities, barter etc, the advantages of trade without the government currency, the 1%-currency.

I have no doubts at all that the man in this discussion has not questioned in serious depth the implications of the 1%-system, and how many assumptions he has accepted from that system. Of course it is hard to do so from within the culture. I suspect he is comparatively young and has just found Buddhism, maybe Buddhism will take him to that questioning.

Here is my paraphrase:-

The middle way between the extremes of engagement and non-engagement, egoistic responsibility and egoistic non-responsibiltiy, is a compassionate skilful participation in daily life.

There is no doubt at all that Santikaro does not want people to be weighed down by the assumptions of their culture – assumptions that in my view decrease awareness. At present I am in a phase where recognition of the impact of 1%-politics is strong – maybe too strong. Perhaps I am resenting the life of servitude I gave to teaching that had so little to do with education. I am constantly aware that there is not enough meditation in my life but in truth it is not changing. Maybe my middle way of living alone is not enough and I need monastic discipline. But the monastery would need to suit my health needs, not something the established monasteries of Thailand provide. Perhaps my lack of meditational balance makes me more critical of those who are not politically aware. Maybe questioning this guy’s middle way is really a reaction to my dissatisfaction with my middle way.

Corollary:- Today I resolved and did extra meditation – new daily routine.

Addendum:-

Here is a talk given by Santikaro at Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives in Bangkok:-

After reading this blog I got an email from Santikaro – apologies that it is not included. he pointed out that now he is in lay life, upasaka, organising at Liberation Park.

I have just had a major problem with the “walking disaster area (WDA)”, my landlady. I called a plumber, Tep, because I had no water in the kitchen. The plumber was a local guy, and when I phoned he came very quickly. This pleased me, I want to get on well with locals here – it is a problem. He came round within 5 minutes, and I showed him there was no water in the kitchen. I have two sources of water, one from a nearby small lake and one from the state supply – bprapaa. I thought the lake water went into the kitchen so I couldn’t understand why I had water in the bathroom but no water in the kitchen. Tep told me the kitchen water came from bprapaa and that there was no bprapaa water, I didn’t believe him and was trying to explain why. Just at that moment the landlady turned up, she agreed with me and started arguing with Tep. He walked off. Whilst he had been here he fixed my toilet but he still walked off. I phoned him and offered to pay him but he refused. Bprapaa water later came on and I had water in the kitchen. Disaster area strikes again, let another local person I have a problem with.

Some people might say I need positive thinking with regards to the disaster area and local people, maybe but I do know this – these two factors the disaster area and employing local people will cause me to leave here. The WDA wants me to buy the house. I can only afford to buy one house – even in Thailand, so if I buy I am stuck here. Now that could be very nice but I need local people as workmen. I cannot find any because WDA has queered my pitch. She sees herself as looking after me – she just invited me for Xmas dinner, so she doesn’t tell me what I need to know. She wants me to call her, and then she complains to others that I am always calling her. I am convinced she says things to others, she once told me that she told people not to bother me. I have just had flu so she has given me stuff. This of course is very kind, and it would be good positive thinking to think of that kindness but she is consistent liar and I have now found out that virtually every question I asked her when I was negotiating the rental agreement was a lie. She is a WDA because of her karma. Her house is a disaster area because of her karma. Her karma is a reality; trying to put a positive spin on karma is not possible, karma happens. The trouble with karma is that as people we cannot know what karma is, but no-one can convince me otherwise – what happens around WDA is karma.

So I now have aversion to WDA, and when trouble occurs in the house I immediately curse the WDA and each problem becomes a crisis because of my attitude as I expect WDA’s karma. In reality some of the problems I can deal with when I calm down. Other problems require local people, and she has pissed them off or they can’t be bothered to come. I don’t know. I have been here less than 3 months so maybe it will be better when I have been here longer and get to know them. Of course that is difficult because my Thai is weak. Patience might help. Her karma is not my karma. Maybe I was not meant to move here, who knows? When you start to think in terms of Path, karma etc you cannot ever truly understand, you can only be good and true.

Some people would say forgive her. Now forgiveness is a good but difficult thing. Whilst I tried to do my duty with him I could never forgive my father because he was not a good man, now he is dead he does not do bad things. Do you forgive someone who continues to do bad things? I never could. If someone wishes to change and is trying, I forgive and try to help them. But if someone continues to do bad things, how do I forgive them? It just doesn’t seem right to me to forgive someone who is still doing bad. WDA continues to lie, and because of her lieing she continues to attract the karma that creates the disaster area. The disasters she creates still affect me although there is no doubt I make them worse because of my expectations of her karma.

This brings me to this RSA Animate clip by Barbara Ehrenreich. There is much in this clip that I agree with but she does not discuss religion, and my Buddhism says of itself that it is all about attitude of mind. Because I don’t have clarity it is a good clip to investigate:-

I am watching again now, it is only about 10 minutes.

At 1.08 minutes she said something like it is not skills or experience that the corporate world wants, it is a positive attitude. She then goes on to talk about what this positive attitude is, but basically in my words it comes down to ignorance or delusion. A corporate employee cannot see the truth of what a corporation does because if they come to terms with that truth they know they cannot work in that company, it matters not to the corporation whether the employee is ignorant of the truth or deceives themselves so long as they don’t act on the truth, and acting on the truth for a moral person usually means resignation. The corporate world cannot exist when people face the truth, what Barbara calls reality. Barbara saw a mandatory optimism in the US (the world – Z), I would call it mandatory ignorance or delusion. There is also a mass delusion of cheerfulness, mandatory cheerfulness within the deluded world of positive thinking.

She describes this approach as applying a force of will that will create what people think. She tends to dismiss this but there is much truth in it. The corporate world mandates delusion and cheerful ignorance, they get it and thus provide the environment that can produce dishonourable profits. Business people accept the bottom line is money, and excuse themselves from the social implications. They delude themselves that they don’t hurt others, but the fact is they do. In a recent Mandtao blog I discussed the delusion of separation and that if we saw unity there would be greater happiness. If business didn’t delude themselves about the bottom line then they would have to accept the social consequences of their actions, the humans in business need to accept unity. This mind control of mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness is essential for business.

Basically Barbara dismisses synchronicity but it appears that she dismisses it because of the way business misuses it. However she came up with conclusions about the positive thinking approach which are excellent:-

1) Delusion is always a mistake.

In business terms she spoke of people who tried to destroy delusions and they were sacked.

2) Mandatory positive thinking is cruel

People who are sacked are told the problem is in their mind, this is cruel. She called it moral callousness.

Then she went onto quote the author of “The Secret” for saying people were sending tsunami-like vibrations. This is an extreme position and for Barbara to dismiss the power of the mind and thinking because of such an extreme quote is not sensible on her part. Mind has the power but how do we use that power?

To solve issues she says we are hardwired to be vigilant – awareness – excellent. She then said “What could be a better way of quelling dissent than to say it is all in the mind?” Mind control by mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness.

And she concluded that we have collective power that could end a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the world – again tremendous.

So what am I actually critical of Barbara in what she says, and that is difficult. This could get “esoteric”.

I was accused of esotericism yesterday. Someone I know says that it is necessary to fulfil all desires, this is why spirituality takes human form. Because of this approach to his life he spends his time fulfilling desires and so is not sufficiently in touch with his spiritual self. I asked him about the 4 Noble Truths. I feel that the 4 Noble Truths says that we have desires but if we attach to them then there is suffering. I feel you should let desires go, and they will gradually disappear. For saying this I was accused of esotericism, in truth I believe that he is stuck in that he believes happiness comes from fulfilling desire, and he suggested that HHDL said this. But again he didn’t. For me HHDL says that by letting go of desire we gain spiritual happiness. It was easy to accuse me of esotericism, there was a 3rd person there who was not interested – just talking.

I think Barbara’s talk proves that there is a collected delusion of positive thinking, what I have called mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness. This is needed for business to ignore the consequences of bottom-line mentality.

So then as a Buddhist I want to consider the power of the mind for the mind is powerful. Unity means there is synchronicity, but always with synchronicity it is concerned with recognition and when to apply it. But in considering this as an Engaged Buddhist I have to say that most Buddhists ignore what is essential in terms of the power of the 1%, and that is the power of collective organisation. With the 1% we do not live in a democracy, but democratic power is the power of Unity, and it is also the power that can come from the Unity of separate individuals as a collective body.

So my social understanding aligns me with Barbara, but spiritually I want to consider what she says slightly differently. First and foremost on the Path we must be truthful, the Path is Truth and hence Realism. Totally aligned with Barbara. The 1% are adept at using the power of inappropriate collective thinking, we must be vigilant of this, and try to make people aware of the power of this collective thinking in order to effect change through the collective power of the mass movement. When people employed in business accept the bottom line of profit, they do not attach to the implications of their decision. They accept the bottom line and ignore the social disasters. This is a lack of vigilance and awareness, and this is the purpose of rhetoric – to make people aware of these consequences. But awareness is not enough, the 1% do not fear awareness, they fear activity. Vigilant awareness on the part of humans has to lead to collective organisation and activity in the mass movement to fight the power of the 1%.

The internet is full of positive thinking, business encourages positive thinking, but real action is the only way forward for change. And understanding the necessity of this real change is currently part of the Path.

Silence then Unity

Posted: 04/12/2012 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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In silence there is truth. This has come to mean a lot more to me recently. I moved house and am living in the countryside; I cannot see my neighbours. For me this is wonderful, and in doing this it has been coming to me in meditation more and more the importance of silence. This is not external silence nor internal silence – just silence. This realisation arose because I was not surrounded by noise. Where I lived before was a suburb but mostly it was not noisy. There were people around, sometimes there was dog noise, but it was not the quiet of Nature. I have this now, it is such a relief. It is quiet, and it makes me want a quiet mind. This I do not have, and more and more it has become my meditation purpose.

With the quiet comes insight that sees the truth, and one brief snippet came this morning. I was thinking of a friend who had let me down with a recommendation. For me if I recommend then my integrity says that the recommendation means this is someone I would use – I could rely on them. That didn’t happen. This man is dedicated to his family, and this is where my mind went. He is compassionate for his family as are many poeople but their compassion does not go beyond their family. Why not? Because if they extend their compassion to all people then there will be conflict with their need to make profit in business. By seeing themselves in terms of their family only they can work at whatever job comes their way, and come home feeling compassionate and loving.

This is separation, and therefore brings me to unity. ONE planet and Unity are issues I have discussed before, they are fundamental themes for change that I have raised both in Zandtao and Mandtao, but I had not seen so clearly the complete interconnectedness of the two paradigms. Separation produces focus on family producing focus on family values increasing the focus on the need for earning leading to the acceptance of compromise in capitalism. Unity brings with it caring for all as we are all one. This means that we care for our families but not at the expense of others. Mandtao is geared more towards the mind and as such ONE planet needs greater emphasis because it is mind that is causing separation.

Knowing we are ONE planet means we cannot hurt others, we want to help our own but not at the expense of others – UNITY.

More Openhand

Posted: 09/11/2012 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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Dear Chris at Openhand,

Thank you again for spending time a while back discussing the morality issue that left us at an impasse.

Despite that I do like your movie – it brought back much of my own beginnings on the Path, and I like your new clip that resonated positively as well:-


 
Personally I have just moved to a new house that is quiet and hidden amongst Thailand’s fruit farms in the countryside. I have been doing a bit of teaching (English not spiritual) and a bit of swimming, with meditation and diet this is personally fruitful. Socially?

Good luck with your work on the Path.

Hope you are keeping well,

All the Best,

Bill Z

Go Pirate

Posted: 17/04/2012 by zandtao in Democracy, Finance, Struggle
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Here I discussed the 1% breaking the rule of law. This rule of law is more important for them than it is for the 99%. Law and order means that everyday the wage slave goes to work earns their money spends it in consumerism thus providing more profits for the 1%. I have advocated and continue to advocate withdrawing from the money that creates that 1% enslavery.

But piracy is an action which does not use money. The 1% created the internet because it was cheaper, organise people to spend their money electronically and that is fewer wage-slaves to work in the sales sector. But what has happened on the internet? People have developed the means of giving away consumer products electronically, and this means of transaction is out of the control of the 1%. Yes we buy computers and our internet connection, but after that we can consume outside the 1% system.

There is an excellent feed at Torrent Freak which is worth subscribing to. The moralist in me initially saw this as people justifying breaking the law, but the 1% have broken the rule of law. We must be moral with each other, sila is primary, but what about this alternative means of trading that is outside the control of the 1%? We pay taxes, 1% don’t; we accept we have to work to pay for homes, banks foreclose and take government money for solving the problem as bonuses. This is a fundamental breakdown of our financial system. So whilst being moral with each other, we must survive – outside the rule of consumer law that protects the 1% businesses.

Piracy is an act of grass roots democracy, empowering ourselves within a system that is exploiting us. The pirate party is developing itself based on the anger at consumers being exploited at the lack of privacy and so on. These are political positions that also represent grass roots democracy. Whilst pirates also tend to reject all of the traditional political organisations including those of grass roots democracy, their actions are those of empowered grass roots democrats.

What is most interesting to watch with regards to the piracy is the inability of the 1% to control human endeavour. They closed megaupload, and there is an outcry from all the people who have been abiding by 1% law, and were using megaupload “legally”. The 1% are not responding to these people who are suffering from 1% policies but are not the intended targets. The 1% want the computer industry to police according to the 1% desires. They want the ISP’s to provide their own policing. Why? Because the ISP’s will do it better? No, because the 1% don’t want to have to pay. But why should the ISP pay? If they do the cost of the internet will sky-rocket and the 1% will lose their internet consumer-base. Torrents continue to exist because one site is closed and another opens. Law targets individuals so individuals use the impersonal anonymity that initially the 1% liked to circumvent the control that the 1% are losing. Breaking consumer law is becoming easier, and because the 1% have broken the rule of law it is open season. In the end no rule of law is frightening for society, but the 1% are addicted and have gone too far.

Participating in democracy is becoming a pirate, go pirate.

Update22/4/12:-

The US government heavy-handedly went in and closed Megaupload on behalf of Hollywood. According to this article the judge says the US had not legal right to close a company from outside the US. So the case against Megaupload was never proven but they closed them down, they are preventing Megaupload to have access to money to create a defence, and now it appears it wasn’t legal in the first place to close them down. I did hear that the White House had rapidshare marked down for drone attacks, watch out Switzerland and cyberlockers everywhere.

Sila or power

Posted: 18/01/2012 by zandtao in Media
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An ex-student, who I am still in touch with, is working for Women’s rights in Lebanon. Whilst her choice of career had nothing to do with me I am pleased that she is following a righteous job, and she knows that. (Below is an opposite example). This ex-student posted this clip on her facebook page, and it has elicited this response in me:-

(This is a trailer for the movie Miss Representation that can be downloaded here.)

Everything I see in this clip I agree with. Women are conditioned to be sex images and to be seen as sex images, and it causes so many problems. Women don’t have appropriate representation in senior management, government, corporate execs etc. This representation is improving since the start of feminism in the 60s but it is nowhere near equal, and this of course is oppression and unacceptable. The first person I ever saw lauded as a symbol of feminism, following the movement in the 60s, was Margaret Thatcher. Politically some of her politicising used the prevailing feminisit movement. She and Reagan deregulated letting the reins off, a release that preluded the current global crisis. As a figurehead she was instrumental in crushing the unions in the UK, a regressive step in terms of people’s rights there. She started a war to maintain power and many more. This woman was completely immoral in her use of power, and never did anything for the rights of women except as an example for being in the position of prime minister and being more “competent” than many men in carrying out the bidding of the 1%. In the US we have a small group of women who have recently become powerful politically, one of whom Condoleeza Rice who was caricatured with an appalling sexist image as “dominatrix” as shown in the clip. This of course is totally unacceptable, but what mainstream media does never has any moral stance; the Occupy movement, current hope for humanity, are characterised as unwashed hippies in middle-class America. The powerful women that come to my mind are Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton. Because they are women I support their right to be given equal chance to be in these positions but nothing they do do I support.

Since the feminist movement of the 60s there has been an increase in the breakdown of the family in the West. A significant factor in the growth of feminism was the oppression in the home of many women. Women were seen as a chattle, a kitchen appliance, by many men – I know this personally in the way my mother was treated by the three males in my family. There was a need for change, and along came feminism. The one thing that feminism definitely has done is alter the home dynamics. In the West there are now few chattels, but at the same time with the increasing financial independence there are fewer nuclear homes. As a single man I perhaps have no right to comment but I believe it is important that children have a mother and father. Whilst the bonds to the mother are naturally closer a good father’s influence is beneficial. In less “educated” and less “feminist” cultures this male influence is accepted as needed, if not always found. I have no doubts at all that the breakdown in the western homes has been as a consequence of feminism, but that statement needs to be placed in context. In the 60s when feminism started the male perspective was definitely that women were a kitchen and bedroom appliance. Through feminism women quite rightly rejected this role but there was no broad education to compensate for this. In other words women correctly fought for their rights but men resisted. In some cases there has been a move to more egalitarian responsibility in the home, but mostly this has not been resolved. Women are striving for social position in the workplace etc. whilst pretending they can run a home at the same time. Some men accept a changing responsibility in the home, but not all. And where are the children in this? They suffer from absentee parents, for many families both parents are trying to establish themselves in society and the children become neglected not having sufficient time with parents. This might be compensated for by extended family but in the West this has also broken down in many cases, as employment pulls people away from the community of their upbringing. And what is the natural responsibility of Nature’s species of which people are one? To bring up children well. Because of the broad failure to recognise this priority our children are suffering as feminism fights for the rights of women. This is not moral. Do I want a return to women as chattels? Certainly not. But who is going address the need for improved child care? A feminist woman fighting to climb the career ladder to compete with men climbing the career ladder, neither of whom have a moral bone of compassion?

Where in this clip is there anything about children?

And what about men in this? OK historically they have not earned rights. But consider a young man. He falls in love and gets married. They have children and he goes out to work. The mother then also goes out to work so just from the man’s point of view where is the woman he married? She is not there, she has no time for him. After work she is tired but must look after the children first, does he get a look in? So the man can invest himself in the home and the children the same as the woman, but are the man’s drives the same? Is the male bond to make a home for his wife and children the same as that of a woman’s? Stereotypically the man is a provider, in traditional societies this is still an accepted value. The man earns the wherewithall for such a home, the woman then makes it stereotypically. Is the man tied to the home in the same way, desiring a home and wanting to take care of children? Is a man brought up to do this? In the current situation where feminist women are seeking success in society, the man is left on the shelf. Whilst I consider that any man entering into marriage nowadays needs to accept egalitarian responsibility, many don’t. When the woman of his dreams disappears from his life and becomes a mother, home-maker and careerist, his mind will wander seeking another “woman of his dreams”. Men might be criticised for this, but for such stereotypical men is there any other way of fulfilment?

And as for racism we cannot see moral role models in leadership. The majority of African leaders accept the role of puppet dictator ascribed by the transnational corporations. So in the West we had Jesse Jackson with a much stronger moral direction whilst fighting for the rights of black people. But where did the West gain success for black people? In a man who had been bought by Goldman Sachs before getting into office, a puppet of Wall Street and a strategy of continuation of war, Obama. Here is an article as to how the interests of black people have fared in the Obama administration. Of course there is always Mandela as an example but he was never a leader in power.

Ultimately feminism and racism are not moral campaigns, and I can only support campaigns that have sila – a Buddhist word for moral integirty. Women and black people have the right to be as big bastards as white men, but when you have campaigns that are underpinned by a right to power such as feminism and racism I hold back. I want to support their right to power, but not power in a system which exploits the world including other women and black people. Of course if I insert a proviso for my support that the women and black people must be moral then that automatically excludes them from these positions of power – sila ensures that people cannot have power in the world of the 1%. I remember a discussion I had in the 80s with a group of women who ran a printing cooperative in Brighton. At the time I was Secretary of a Trades Council and I was encouraging them to feminise the council. They refused saying it was a male structure – something I tended to believe. I wonder how much this type of representational structure that I have now rejected has at its basis the egos of the men that became elected. Underlying the discussions with these good people was a notion that women would bring a sense of morality into politics, I see no evidence of that. I see the women who have been successful in attaining power have been equally immoral as the men who previously were there – perhaps even more immoral. Women have the right to be in that power but I don’t want to support the women who get there. Equally being an oppressed black person does not bring with it moral integrity.

As usual in discussion of integrity versus power there is no clear conclusion. Women and black people have the right to more power, something they cannot get if they are moral. If you become a puppet of the 1% it matters little what gender or race you are, your soul has been sold. We all have the right to sell our souls but this is not something I wish to campaign for.

Below:- Interestingly enough another woman I am in touch with is following a career in food additives – and food additives I now consider poisons and damaging to health. In her case I did have direct input. As teachers we were ascribed careers advisory duties to some students. This girl was not ascribed to me. At a meeting with parents her mother, the girl and I were discussing the choice that she was following and she was not happy about it. I cannot recall exactly how it went down, but I always promoted choosing a career you want to follow. The girl changed to what she wanted to do, has now almost completed a Ph D on flavourings, and has appropriate jobs in the industry. Following my discussion a neurotic ex-colleague hit the roof with me claiming a lack of professionalism, I had to agree with her and apologised. What a system. The woman, ex-girl student, holds gratitude in her heart for my inadvertent intervention, and I had to apologise. Typical miseducation.

(added to religion page)

Sila, moral integrity, is the foundation on which the Buddhist Path and Practice is based, without sila a person cannot genuinely call themselves Buddhist. Unlike Christianity and Islam the requirements of sila are not defined so a person must work out for themselves what their moral position is. However there are lay guidelines listed here (with the Pali original):-

The Five Precepts:
1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

Determining where you stand with regards to these principles and making a commitment to apply them to your daily life begins to open the Path that is Buddhist understanding, and at the same time it develops in the person an integrity which others can rely on – trust. Trust and sila have a symbiotic relationship, without sila a person cannot be trusted and we cannot trust people without integrity.

For government trust is an essential commodity, we need to trust that our government works in our interest – essentially the meaning of democracy. This is why it is necessary to understand the relationship between the corporatocracy and government, and I suggest that it is best understood as employer and employee. Rather than considering the notion that we trust our government because it is a democracy, to understand the way of the world it is best understood that the government works for the banks and corporations, and that is why we have the policies we do. What can we trust the government to do, work for the corporatocracy. Until this relationship is recognised democratically, then there is little chance of change. For me this is where political awareness is now at – the need to educate people that the relationship between the corporatocracy and government is that of employer and employee.

The most obvious tool for recognising this relationship is that of consistency. Let us consider war in the light of this tool of consistency, how consistent is our government’s stance on war? The first Gulf War was fought for democracy – trying to help the democratic rulers of Kuwait to overthrow the enemy, Saddam Hussein. What democratic rulers of Kuwait? The Kuwaiti rulers are dictators – inconsistency. NATO supported the rebels to overthrow the dictatorship of Qaddafi – possible. Who are they supporting? The Libyan people – we are not sure yet, but the National Transitional Council certainly has no right to call itself a democracy – inconsistency.

In both of the above cases the arms manufacturers gained greatly. Western allies used taxpayers’ money and money borrowed from the bankers – their respected Feds (Federal Reserve and the Bank of England) to pay the arms companies for their weapons to fight the respected wars. At the same time as a result of both wars NATO countries have gained control of the oil supply. Consistency.

Let’s then look at the recession that we are supposedly in. Who benefits from the recession? Prior to the crash sparked by the manipulations of the sub-prime loans, more than just the bankers were gaining through financial exploitation. After the crash the banks claimed they needed money, and because of their control of governments they were able to get money form the government to stabilise the banking system without which the economies would go under. I dispute that the peoples’s economies would go under as if your economy was forced back to a sustainable one, the people would not suffer. The vast amounts of credit that underpins our economic system only shows itself in zeros of the accounts of the super rich. Ordinary people don’t necessarily benefit from the vast amount of credit directly, over a period of time removal of a credit economy would stabilise into a working barter system (or return to the gold standard). People would never accept the obscene amounts of money the super rich claim they have if the people were starving, this superclass would come under threat quite rightly. That threat doesn’t happen now because whilst the super-rich still have an obscene amount of money idling away in offshore accounts the majority of people have sufficient to get by either through personal credit or through credit on a wider scale.

So during the recession the banks, who started the problem have been given bailout money, are they expected to return it? Where does this money come from? Normally we say taxes but if there is not sufficient money from the taxes the money is borrowed or created by the various Feds. Once borrowed from the Feds, it must be paid back, so the bankers gain from the interest and the payback. Do the banks have to pay the government? Unsure. Does the government have to pay the banks? Definitely. Who is the employer? When you understand this, there are no inconsistencies.

People want to trust their government, they want to give their governments responsibility for their actions. A country needs a government to ensure fairness and justice, and in the US this is the basis of their constitution. But in the UK there has never been a constitution, the government has always been in league with the landowners and then finance and the corporations. However in the case of the UK the politicians claim democracy, and claim that they have the interest of the people. In the US the paper, constitution, claims the interests of the people. But in neither case is this the truth, the function of the government is primarily to work for the banks and corporations. To understand taxation you need to understand this. Taxes are paid so that the government can accumulate money. Some of this accumulated money is paid out for public services, why not all? Money is paid for “defence”, is all the money spent necessary for defence? No. Why is it spent? For the profits of the MIC. When you look at the way government spends its money, it only makes sense if you see it as the banks and corporations taking money from working people and needing to convince working people that it is necessary to do this. Taxation is for the banks and corporations – consistency.

Once people are aware of this fundamental relationship, then the struggle can begin in earnest. Does this struggle have to be violent? I hope not. Many left-wing theorists say it is necessary, I genuinely hope it is not. Suppose we have that awareness and are not seeking a violent solution, what can we do? If the awareness is solid, then we can apply pressure to democratic representatives to break the relationship with their employers – get the politicians to fight the banks and corporations. This can only happen with a tremendous amount of popular support – such as in Nicaragua in 1979 or in Cuba. But in both those cases it was violent. Are there examples where the people have ascended power and it has not been violent? No. BUt if the democratic power is strong enough then the superclass will be willing to relinquish some power, maybe there is a way for compromise. But that power needs to be strong, and the people need to trust their representatives. In the UK and the US we have had leaders who have misused that trust, both Tony Blair and Barack Obama presented themselves as leaders for the people but in practice they were the same employees as previous politicians but with sugar moths that spouted lies. We need to break the existing party machines that ensure that liars become leaders, and people with integrity work their way through the ranks. Politics needs to be seen as a place for sila and politicians as bastions of such integrity; then we can have trust.

Let’s examine the lay principles. I have and there is little point, they have nothing to do with politics. If they did it would be great, but certainly no leading British politician can follow then whilst functioning in a corporatocracy. Just because it is a Pali word sila is not the prerogative of Buddhists, underpinning all religions is a moral integrity that is worth fighting for. Consider the 10 Commandments, if a politician followed them the world would be a better place, and the same would be true of codes within other religions. The Four Agreements would benefit humanity if politicians were to follow them.

The issue is not the code, it is power. Working in Grass Roots politics there were many genuine people – even somewhere underneath the intellectual egos of the Trots must be a heart of compassion – otherwise why did they take the path of conflict with the establishment; they could have been intellectual and earn money (how many Trots give up and do that?). And the stage at which Grass Roots politics loses sila is when the politician compromises themselves to gain power. Look at Obama. Wonderful rhetoric – phenomenal. He pushed all the correct buttons of compassionate people. But you have to know that the corporatocracy would not give him campaign contributions if they couldn’t be sure he was pliable. And lo and behold, at every opportunity he has failed to deliver. I am sorry for all the disappointed people, but even though he has misused everyone people must still struggle to empower the democracy.

Power corrupts, somehow we need to consider how the genuine compassion of the grass roots activist can work its way up into power. It only takes one person in power to enable us all. Obama has shown us one thing that is very positive, a platform of genuine compassion is electable. In the US it is not the electability of the platform but the financial requirement to be a candidate – corporate sponsorship.

Let’s make sila the price politicians pay for our trust and our vote.