Buddhism and Politics…

With only weeks left until the election, I scour the literature and websites of the candidates and propositions to learn more and make an informed decision. Ideally, that decision is the “right” decision, but nothing is clearly black and white. It seems to me that once again, even on the propositions among which we must choose, I end up selecting the less bitter pill to swallow.

For me, the challenge is always, “How do I bring my practice into the voting booth? How do I engage at this particular level in such a way that reflects my Buddhist beliefs?” What I am finding is that it requires “skillful means” to solve the challenges we all face, but that seems in short supply. Candidates and propositions all seem to take such stark positions that really don’t solve the problems we face in a manner that takes into account our connections to one another. If dependent co-arising is a basis for our actions and awakening, how do the swings between each party’s position take this into account?

We need a more nuanced view of the issues and a more skillful method of reaching agreement and solving the issues at hand. On the Upaya Zen Center’s newsletter/blog, there is an interesting conversation string that is worth reading. I particularly appreciate the comments made by blogger Nathan Thompson and Maia Duerr’s response. Is there another way that we can engage with the body politic to bring about the values and awakened state (both our own state and the State) that our beliefs embody?

I fear that once again I will hold my nose and pull the lever in the voting booth, but if that is the case, what skillful means can I, will I take to shift the problem to a different outcome? Rather than giving up, if I am to conduct myself as an “engaged Buddhist,” how should I act?

How do you see your role and the role of the larger Buddhist community in the electoral process?

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One Response to Buddhism and Politics…

  1. Chuck says:

    What a timely and interesting topic. I have wondered what happened to country’s middle path? While I try to promote candidates and programs that help all sentient beings, I find it hard to remain egoless when people take extreme stances (just shows I have more work to do)

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