Author’s Note: Both Karl Marx and Gautama Siddharta (the ‘Buddha’) rejected mindless killing and warfare for profit. Both also rejected the principle of the ‘Death Sentence’ and both worked to relieve the suffering of humanity. However, what is less known or misunderstood, is that Karl Marx believed that the International Working Class had a right to protect itself from the continuous violence inflicted upon it by the International Bourgeoisie. The Buddha, too, also recognised the practicality of a State possessing an armed force for self-defence and maintaining law and order (see the Chakkavatti Sihanad Sutta, for instance). The Buddha and Karl Marx (both of whom expressed definite Animal Rights tendencies), believed that it was morally incorrect to maintain and perpetuate deliberate suffering throughout society, and sort through their respective rational, dialectical, and historically materialistic systems, to uproot and eradicate it from the individual mind, body, and from across society. This is nothing short of the radical collective and individualistic transformation of existence from the base-up that leaves no stone unturned. This is because Buddhism is naturally ‘Communistic’ and ‘Revolutionary’ in the Marxist sense – not because Marx and Engels wrote it (although they both knew, understood and admired the Buddha’s teaching) – but because the Buddha realised a profound scientific and philosophical reality prior to the ancient Greeks, and thousands of years before Marx and Engels sat-down with their quills and produced their master-piece of Scientific Socialism. It is an interesting question as to whether Marx and Engels were motivated or influenced by the Buddha’s teachings (as transmitted to them by Karl Koppen) when they formulated their ground-breaking ‘Scientific Socialism’ for the modern age. Whatever the case, it is impossible for a legitimate Buddhist to be rightwing in anyway (outside of Japan), but to always support the Communist and Socialist leftwing of politics. This echoes Sartre’s famous line that ‘anyone who is not a Communist, is a dog’. The following article is part of an ongoing project that seeks to unravel and clarify the Buddha’s teachings and rescue them from the distorting bourgeois abyss they have fallen into in the modern West. Western capitalists make use of Buddhism as just another commodity to temporarily appease their perennial greed. Coupled with various ‘trendy’, but otherwise ‘false’ Buddhist movements in the West, the Buddha’s teachings have been made to seem as if they represent the exploitative agencies of modern capitalism (despite the fact that as a distinct body of knowledge, it was formulated during India’s feudal period). Does the Buddha’s message represent Scientific Socialism? The answer is definitely ‘yes’ because it seeks to undercut the very motivating greed that is the essence of modern capitalism, and in so doing, forge a new society and a new individuality based upon non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion – surely this represents the stage of ‘Socialism’ and the ultimate stateless-state of ‘Communism’ as envisioned by Marx and Engels, and put into practical reality by the great VI Lenin in Soviet Russia. ACW 28.5.2016
Contrary to mistaken and distorted bourgeois interpretations of ‘Buddha’ and ‘Buddhism’, the Buddha interfered in ancient Indian politics all the time. This probably stemmed from the fact that he was a high caste ‘Hindu’ (or adherent of the Brahmanic religious system), and came from a politically prominent family. The Buddha ate, breathed and lived politics and in no way rejected the agencies of political awareness or political protest. In fact it can be said that the Buddha played the political system of ancient India with a very high degree of astute sophistication and profound awareness. He understood the inner-workings of the Brahmanic system and had an intimate knowledge of how the Brahmanic mind-set worked. He knew how everyday political life was for Hindu society, and equally understood how to guide that process toward his enlightened reason that stated that all of humanity’s ill were the product of greed, hatred, and delusional habitual thought patterns emanating within the psychic fabric of the mind, and manifesting in the mind as incorrect thought, and in the environment as aberrant (and harmful) behaviours. Furthermore, as the Buddha rejected ‘idealism’, he further stated that greed, hatred and delusion in the mind had its origin in the physical world, and in the accumulated consequences of those actions (karma) generated whilst living in that world. He stated that gods were ultimately unreal (but appear to be real in the deluded state), and that in the state of enlightenment, even the agency of ‘rebirth’ (which should not be confused or conflated with ‘reincarnation’, which does not exist within Buddhism), is revealed as being not real. The Buddha rejected the theology of Brahmanism (i.e. ‘Hinduism’) and created what can be viewed as the world’s first system of secular thought.
The Buddha’s break with Brahmanism was remarkably complete and in many ways more exact and precise than many secular Western philosophers, those otherwise interesting thoughts on logic and reason still retain a very distinct Judeo-Christian influence (as if they are ‘apologising’ for breaking free of Christian theology, whilst attempting to keep a foot in either camp). Even today, many adherents of Western ‘secular’ thought, either attempt to re-integrate that thought with Judeo-Christian theological influences, or outside of their professional academic work, profess a profound ‘belief’ in the Judeo Christian theology that their science rejects in the name of reason. The same cannot be said for the Buddha, who during the time of his life, and despite the fact that he was so deeply and profoundly invested in the caste privilege of his day, thoroughly rejected the very Brahmanic theological foundation of that privilege – because he perceived it (within meditational absorption) as being ‘wrong’, ‘incorrect’, and premised upon the use of historically ‘false’ logic By using the meditational techniques and methods of Brahmanism and Yoga, for instance, he did set his mind (and body) free of all historically conditionality – whilst still continuing to exist within the conditionally created world. This happened at a time when many Hindu (and other types of ascetics) settled for a ‘negation’ of the recognition of conditioned reality and refused to partake in any logical and reasonable discussion about reality. Of course, this attitude left Brahmanic society completely unquestioned and allowed to continue as it had always done – until the Buddha came along, that is.
The Buddha rejected Brahmanic politics (along with the entire religious, political, social and cultural systems of Brahmanism) whilst continuing to live within it (albeit in modified fashion – from opulent prince to impoverished beggar). The Buddha’s entire enlightened physical presence was ‘political’ (and continues to be so within modern, capitalist societies) because whilst affirming a different mode of profound enlightened existence, he thoroughly and permanently rejected the racism and greed of the very system that produced him, and continued to allow him to exist within its boundaries. The Buddha’s physical presence, (and following his passing – his ‘Dharmic teachings’), serve to up root greed, hatred, and delusion not only in the individual mind (the emphasis of bourgeois interpretations of Buddhism in the modern West, obsessed as it is with ‘individualism’), but also within society as whole. A proper Buddhist – like the Buddha – uproots greed, hatred and delusion in the mind and in society, and sees no difference between the two. The modern bourgeois, by way of contrast, labours under the misapprehension that enlightenment can be a purely ‘personal’ affair, that the society that privileges him or her can continue unchanged by the enlightened experience. This is a modern disease found virtually everywhere within Buddhism today that does not have its roots within authentic Indian Buddhism, but rather in the deluded minds of those who try to use Buddhism to re-inforce or justify the corrupt, and greed orientated societies that they happen to exist within.
Bourgeois Buddhism (being deluded as they are), will continue to perpetuate greed, hatred and delusion no matter where they live (East or West), and support the greed of capitalism and its hate-filled warmongering and political duplicity. This is because the outer constructs of bourgeois society are firmly rooted within the deepest recesses of their minds. In such a situation, a type of ‘fetish’ Buddhism is employed to justify ALL bourgeois social and political constructs, so that in reality nothing changes, other than the sham association between the bourgeois in question and the ‘new’ exotic philosophy they have discovered within Buddhism. This rejection of true Buddhism for false Buddhism allows Western Buddhists to continue with their greed-filled and hate intensive lifestyles – bombing any country that dares to defy this world-view. In Asia, Asian Buddhists infected with this bourgeois disease resort to such Western hatreds as Islamophobia, and other forms of inter-ethnic violence. This is the spread of Western delusion in the Asian mind. This is not to deny the fact that non-Western peoples have greed, hatred, and delusion in their minds, (after-all the uprooting of ‘Asian’ delusional psychology and correspondingly ‘corrupt’ social modes of existence, is the entire foundation of Buddhist philosophy), but acknowledges the power of relatively recent historical processes and events, in the form of pervasive European imperialism and colonialism. In short, the European colonialists amassed for themselves the means of production in Asia, and set about ruthlessly exploiting her peoples, and conditioning them to unquestionably ‘accept’ without question, the premise of domination through racism, so on and so forth. The legacy of this spread of Western delusion into Asia is that these psycho-physical traits of Eurocentric delusion hide deep-down in the mind, and only emerge when conditions are right for their expression. Buddhists hating Muslims in Asia is simply the encoding of Western prejudices against Islam into the minds of non-Europeans, so that these ‘Buddhists’ believe they are acting out of free will when they attack and murder otherwise peaceful Muslim communities. Perhaps an example of this Western-inspired murder in Asia is demonstrated by the fact that many of the so-called ‘protesting’ Buddhist monks hold-up placards containing anti-Islamic rhetoric written in ‘English’ when very few people in those countries would use English as a political language. It is though these ‘Buddhists’ are communicating to the ‘new’ Western over-lords, confirming that Eurocentric racism has been effectively transmitted throughout non-European communities in the world. In the meantime, whilst this game of deluded politics is played-out, thousands of innocents continue to die. Obviously this is not ‘Buddhism’, but is its exact opposite. It is not the uprooting of greed, hatred, and delusion, but rather the firm maintenance and perpetuation of greed, hated and delusion, often instigated by the members of the Buddhist Sangha – or ordained monastic community. This is a particular problem for Asian countries which possess impoverished and poorly educated masses, which tend to ‘worship’ the ordained Sangha, and carry-out any instructions emanating from it. This represents a corruption of Buddhism that has fallen into ‘religiosity’ where the Buddha is viewed as a ‘god’ and his ordained monks and nuns as ‘mediators’ between the ignorant laity and god (as Buddha). This mimics, of course, the Christianity of the Western missionaries who were deliberately (and cynically) placed around Asia attempting to ‘convert’ and ‘corrupt’ all indigenous cultural modes of expression to their own use.
The Buddha’s rejection of theism and ALL political, social and cultural modes of expression premised upon it, (i.e. ALL aspects of ancient Indian Brahmanic society), was without compromise or apology. The Buddha interpreted his expression of understanding as being the ‘right’ of a spiritual traveller who had ‘realised’ or ‘recognised’ the ‘truth’. The difference for the Buddha, was that he firmly rejected the entire psycho-physical expression of his religious and socio-economic system. He knew that this would exclude him from ALL religious and social structures that had previously enabled his privileged existence, and that he would have no recourse through the extant political system (that his father was so prominent within). As it was socially acceptable to live on the edge of society and rely on begging to sustain a physical existence, the Buddha chose this existence and after his enlightenment, never again re-entered the society he had so firmly rejected. In his mind (and in his body) he fundamentally entered a new state of being whereby ALL aspects of Brahmanic society was uprooted, analysed as incorrect (because it was the product of greed, hatred, and delusion in the mind and body), and discarded as suffering producing. However, the Buddha’s community of ordained monks and nuns lived a ‘Communistic’ existence where even their clothing (as ‘robes’) was donated by others (usually members of the laity). In early Buddhism, the monks and nuns would walk quietly through villages or towns with their eyes looking downward at the ground, holding a single begging bowl, into which ordinary people could put scraps of food in, if they felt so compelled. Under no circumstance was a Buddhist monastic permitted to ‘ask’ for food, or engage the populace in any manner that would suggest ‘greed’ in operation. The practice of ‘begging’ sustenance for the body was turned into a walking meditation practice for the Buddha and his monastics. Often these monks and nuns would return with no food to the Sangharama or Vihara, would replace their bowls in the correct manner, and without a ‘grasping’ mind, return to seated meditation practice, or other forms of permitted Dharma-work. The Buddha rejected the concept of ‘leadership’, and instead put the authority of the community in his teachings – or ‘Dharma’. This is why even today, the Dharma is considered more important than even the Vinaya Discipline (the Buddhist monastic discipline). Generally speaking, an elderly monk or nun co-ordinates Dharma practice – but is never considered the ‘head’ of Buddhism. Lay Buddhists (whilst living within Brahmanic society), were encouraged by the Buddha to put his teachings into practice in a manner that benefitted society and reduced or eradicated all forms of suffering. This is because the Buddha tempered his revolutionary thinking with the application of ‘loving kindness’ and ‘compassion’ toward ALL beings even those who perpetuated greed, hatred, and delusion, usually as an important first-step to transforming their minds and lifestyles. Even when lay-Buddhists earn money (through their labour), the Buddha encouraged them to be ‘wise’ and ‘compassionate’ with its usage. An amount should be saved, an amount should be spent on daily living costs, and an amount should be given to those in need. Lay Buddhists living within ancient India had to ‘work’ for their living not because the Buddha thought wage-slavery was correct (he obviously did not), but because lay-Buddhists were often married with children, were not celibate ascetics, and could not access the tradition of spiritual wanderers begging for sustenance. Lay Buddhists (usually Hindu converts) would ‘give-up’ caste if they could, or work from within it to bring it down in a gentle and persuasive manner, if they could not. However, wherever possible, the Buddha would encourage the laity to ‘ordain’ into his monastic community, and leave Brahmanic society completely behind (which also meant the rejection of the institute of ‘marriage’, having a spouse, and raising children, etc).
The Buddha, being of high caste Brahmanic birth, was generally respected by the numerous kings and ministers that ruled India during his lifetime. This certainly seems to be the case even after his enlightenment and his known thorough rejection of the Brahmanic system. It is a valid question as to whether the Buddha would have been listened to, to the extent he obviously was (by high caste Hindus), if he had been born a low-caste Hindu possessing a dark complexion. However, as the Buddha was nothing if not pragmatic, he used his influence to continuously interfere in regional politics if he thought it would reduce suffering in the world. This is why he often interceded in conflicts with the intention of using wisdom in the place of killing (i.e. ‘military action’). However, although the Buddha clearly states that killing is wrong (because it attracts negative karmic fruits for all concerned), and advises that both lay and monastic Buddhists should adhere to this precept first and foremost (as a means of uprooting greed, hatred, and delusion), nevertheless the Buddha’s practical approach often meant that he would approach lay existence with a certain ‘balance’ of view. For instance, although he made it clear about the dangers of killing, he still acknowledged that for protective purposes, the State could retain an armed force, providing its soldiery were disciplined and of a high moral calibre. This is because the Buddha understood that greed, hatred, and delusion, were so ingrained within the mind, body and society that simply proscribing an activity would not be of any use in transforming that activity. A soldier (or revolutionary) who becomes a ‘Buddhist’ is still a soldier or revolutionary, just as a lay person (with all their cares and tribulations, are still a ‘lay’ person). The Buddha did not agree with killing (of humans, animals or plants), but understood that lay society has a historical karmic force underpinning it, and that these waves of dialectical manifestation must be manifest and cannot be prevented from doing so. The best way of dealing with the institutes and entities of society was to influence it for the better, rather than out rightly condemning certain manifestations of it. This is the Buddha’s ‘middle way’ in operation. He understood that within lay society conflict and violence might well have to occur to end greed, hatred, and delusion. This is the Buddha’s pragmatic understanding in operation. Although he preferred the auspices of peaceful inner and outer change, he acknowledged that lay society might well have to undergo various changes through otherwise non-peaceful means. The Buddha’s advice is that violent actions have negative karmic responses (and therefore induce ‘suffering’), but that those people engaged in violent activity (such as soldiers or revolutionaries), should strive to purify their minds of greed, hatred, and delusion whilst in pursuance of their political ends. This is because the Buddha interpreted the agency of karma as not just being physical actions, but as rather originating in the mind as ‘intention’. If this ‘intention’ is infested with greed, hatred, and delusion, then it logically follows that this ignorance is perpetuated throughout the world through the agency of physical action. However, for a fully enlightened being, all deluded ‘intention’ has been uprooted, and no further ‘karma’ is produced (in the mind and body), although such a being will still experience a diminished historical karma associated with the physical body (whilst it still exists in the world). A lay Buddhist can attain to this state, (although it is difficult to do so), and continue to function in lay society. Such an accomplished layperson is in a position to spread revolutionary enlightenment throughout the world, and assist in the freeing of humanity from the chains of historically conditioned oppression and exploitation. A Buddhist – whether monastic or lay – is a true revolutionary committed to uprooting the basis of deluded society in the mind, body and environment. This pragmatic Buddhist approach parallels the Scientific Socialism of Marxist-Engelism and Marxist-Leninism – and Buddhists are advised to study these teachings in all their manifestations (including Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong) as an important step in transforming the modern world for the better.
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.