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Change the world or accept the way it is

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
edited November 2016 in Buddhism Today

A common teaching in Buddhism is too see reality uncolored by one's own preconceived notions and accept it the way it really is, without projecting our fears and desires on it. Does this mean we should accept the world (and our place in it) the way it is, or try to change it?

As a citizen of the USA, I'm very unhappy with our current political situation. I don't like either of the major parties' candidates and I'm very concerned about the undue influence of moneyed interests in the political system. Yet there seems to be very little I can do about it. Should I rail against the system or put my worry down and accept what comes?

I've always hated standing out from the crowd and "rocking the boat". I do not like to draw attention to myself and seek to avoid public contact. I feel like I should do something, but I'm not sure what would be appropriate for someone who doesn't like rallies and making phone calls. Or if I should even want to get involved.

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I was just reading the Hsin Hsin Ming, and it is very much on your theme @nakazcid

    The Great Way is not difficult
    for those who have no preferences.
    When love and hate are both absent
    everything becomes clear and undisguised.
    Make the smallest distinction, however,
    and heaven and earth are set infinitely far apart.

    While I like @karasti's answer, I would put the emphasis more on avoiding judgment and attachment. Once you judge, you are committed, it is a form of attachment in what happens internally. The Hsin Hsin Ming goes on to say,

    When you try to stop activity by passivity
    your very effort fills you with activity.

    It seems like avoiding acting on judgment is not the way to realise this teaching.

    So perhaps until we reach that point where we have freed ourselves from the need to judge, we should participate in a mindful and engaged way in the world.

    lobsterpersonRodrigo
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2016

    There's something you can do about it at least as far as writing your representatives in Congress. Congress has the power to override the Supreme Court decision that resulted in SuperPac's being formed to fund political campaigns, so if you motivated others to write in, you could have an impact.

    As far as other worldly concerns go, let compassion be your guide. Would you really have wanted to be complacent in the face of, say, institutionalized and brutally enforced racism in South Africa? What about the unspeakable torture some Middle East prisoners are subjected to in the US, as well as some illegal aliens prior to deportation? What about all the US tech workers who get laid off to be replaced by cheaper imports? How outrageous is that? And how do you know that you and your industry might not be next? How responsible are we for the outrages that continue because we're passive and complacent? IMO compassion can never be indifferent.

    Some food for thought, for those who think their spiritual tradition favors complacency:
    (courtesy of the late Elie Wiesel)

    We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

    The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.

    There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

    lobstersilverDavidmmo
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2016

    ..

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Thich Nhat Hanh is a good example. He does both.

    David
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @nakazcid said:
    A common teaching in Buddhism is too see reality uncolored by one's own preconceived notions and accept it the way it really is, without projecting our fears and desires on it. Does this mean we should accept the world (and our place in it) the way it is, or try to change it?

    If one takes into account 'reality' just "is"...one needs to adapt ones thinking patterns to flow with and not against it....

    As a citizen of the USA, I'm very unhappy with our current political situation. I don't like either of the major parties' candidates and I'm very concerned about the undue influence of moneyed interests in the political system. Yet there seems to be very little I can do about it. Should I rail against the system or put my worry down and accept what comes?

    I'm reminded of something Shantideva said in regards to "worrying"...It went something along these lines
    "What's the worst thing that can happen? And if it does, what can you do about it? If you can do something about it...Why worry? And if you can't do anything about it...worrying ain't gonna solve it !"

    I guess he was saying, just make the most of the situation one finds oneself in (in other words do what you can to improve the present situation and if the outcome is not to your liking, then adapt )...bearing in mind, all things must change...that's the nature of Anicca ( Impermanence)...

    I've always hated standing out from the crowd and "rocking the boat". I do not like to draw attention to myself and seek to avoid public contact. I feel like I should do something, but I'm not sure what would be appropriate for someone who doesn't like rallies and making phone calls. Or if I should even want to get involved.

    You have all the information laid out before you @nakazcid ...So what is the lesser of two evils ?

    Remember Not To Vote "is" To Vote and therein lies the paradox of non voting....

    DhammaDragon
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited November 2016

    For me, to vote against either major candidate by voting FOR a third party is a pretty strong message, I think. It's what I did. And I haven't voted for at least a decade. I went out of my way to register this year...went on the internet and everything. ;)

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @Shoshin The question is not whether I should vote, but whether I should do more than just pulling a lever. That said, the dilemma I face when voting is whether I should vote for an "establishment" politician I consider questionable to "block" someone else vile, or vote for a third party candidate with no chance of winning and thereby indirectly supporting the vile candidate. Blech.

    I've donated to politicians I consider worthy of supporting, even though my financial position is dicey. I can't afford to give much, but this season small donors seem to be making a difference en masse. Still I feel remiss for not doing more. I'm just not psychologically equipped for protests or working phone banks.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @silver said:
    For me, to vote against either major candidate by voting FOR a third party is a pretty strong message, I think. It's what I did. And I haven't voted for at least a decade. I went out of my way to register this year...went on the internet and everything. ;)

    @silver I think that the only issue with doing this , is by doing so one is potentially taking the vote away from the lesser of two evils ( one of the two most popular political parties will win by the number of votes they receive) and this US election (for many Americans so it would seem) is definitely a case of voting for "The Lesser of Two Evils"

    @Shoshin The question is not whether I should vote, but whether I should do more than just pulling a lever. That said, the dilemma I face when voting is whether I should vote for an "establishment" politician I consider questionable to "block" someone else vile, or vote for a third party candidate with no chance of winning and thereby indirectly supporting the vile candidate. Blech.

    @nakazcid it's been said "Better the devil you know!" go with what you feel is the lesser of two evils ...so just do what you can (what you feel 'comfortable' doing) when you can and don't feel guilty for not doing more that what you have already done...

    Or if I should even want to get involved.

    If either of the two main political parties win, how will you feel ? (Think Shantideva)

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    Accepting reality as it is, does not mean that we should not strive to actively change what depends on us to change.

    Magically enough, our circle of influence enlarges as we begin to tread the change, or we find that our tiniest effort, coupled with other tiny efforts, makes a huge difference in the situation.

    Sitting passively stewing in frustration is not a Buddhist attitude, though acceptance should come once we have done all what was humanely possible for us to do.

    Not being able to change outer circumstances might present us with the challenge of finding a fresh outlook on events, or of finding a new way to make peace with them.

    As Chögyam Trungpa said:
    "It's easier to put on a pair of shoes than to wrap the world in leather"

    Shoshin
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Shoshin said "@silver I think that the only issue with doing this , is by doing so one is potentially taking the vote away from the lesser of two evils ( one of the two most popular political parties will win by the number of votes they receive) and this US election (for many Americans so it would seem) is definitely a case of voting for "The Lesser of Two Evils"

    I said to myself recently, after thinking like that for decades, that MY message is the lesser of two evils is actually two evils who are not going to get my vote and that is the message I am sending to the world and to them. WHEN everyone stops thinking like the cattle in the herd, they will perhaps start voting for 'other than' to send this very message - that both candidates are UNACCEPTABLE! I don't care how they take it, but believe me, they do pay attention to the finer details. They count every bean - every penny because they know that some day - if they haven't lulled us into complete and total apathy and complacency, we the people will start voting for someone else. :star:

    ShoshinDhammaDragon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited November 2016

    I still do not know how I am voting. I am sad that Bernie did not request his write ins to count. For me, Bernie is my guy. And I have to decide if I am going to trust his leadership enough to follow his recommendations. I do not like Hillary. But, there is more potential in her administration. If I vote for her, it will be a vote on the hope her cabinet and admin. will be progressive as she has agreed to the points Bernie was so strong on. i don't trust her. But I'm not sure she has a choice if she doesn't want political suicide. There will be a lot of Bernie followers voting for her because that's what he is asking them to do. It's not what I want to do. But I do trust him. And I do think, maybe (not sure yet) that there is potential to move in the direction I want to see. So in my mind, if I do vote Hillary my vote won't be for her but for the potential of the people advising her. This will be me on Tuesday. I wish we had a choice for "none of the above."

    person
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    To me, voting for none of the above is simply not voting. I got out of voting because my life was too busy and my health was waning. We vote 'for' someone - anyone but the unacceptable/intolerable. Up through the years, I couldn't count how many people I voted for that I had no clue about! Too funny. My current philosophy is vote for anyone but H or T.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited November 2016

    There is more to voting than just the president. There are dozens of positions/offices on my ballot. Many of which have in the past come down to fewer than 10 votes because of where we live. So i will always vote, because the school board, and our other local offices have a direct impact on my daily life, and I can have an impact by voting. But there are a million reasons someone might not vote. It just would be nice to be able to say "I'm here, I'd love to vote. Give me someone worth voting for." And have it count. I do a lot of research on who to vote for and I fill out a sample ballot and bring it with so I don't forget, everything from local offices to the county soil manager. I research them all.

    silverKerome
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @karasti I voted for (and donated to) Bernie in the primary. Thing is, my voice will be lost in the general election. I live in a deep red state the Democrats have no chance of winning, so I might as well vote for Dumbo for all that it matters. Likewise, Republicans will carry the election at the state and local level. This sense of ineffectiveness is probably feeding my angst...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I have friends in the same situation. Most of them are voting 3rd party if they are not in swing states. I don't recall exactly how it works (I looked it up but I can never keep it straight) but there is something about federal funding that is impacted if a party gets a certain % of the vote in the previous election. So voting 3rd party, if one speaks to you, can help them get funding for the next election (as I understand it). My state is pretty heavily democratic. We have not voted red in more than 40 years, and only like 4 times in the past 110 years. But depending who you listen to, the polls can get close enough this year to wonder if that will still be the case. Which is part of why I am still undecided. If I vote 3rd party I have to be prepared to accept that Trump could win my state if it's that close. I'm not sure I can accept that on my conscience. It really is a conflicting election. I've never felt so conflicted and I've voted in every election I can on every level.

    Shoshin
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    It sounds like you got it down to a real science, @karasti. I wouldn't worry if I were you. I'm sure you'll vote the way that makes the most sense for your state's situation. You're smarter than the average Buddhist! B)

    Shoshin
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I have voted third party in the past. I voted for Anderson when Reagan was running, and for Perot when Clinton was running. In these instances my vote was not a Protest Vote, though I knew my candidate would not win. I voted for the choice I found most inspiring. This time around I am most inspired by voting against a candidate who I find preposterously inappropriate for the office, but frighteningly capable of winning it. You play the hand you're dealt. I didn't deal these cards, but I still want what's best for the country. I voted (early voting) my conscience.

    Shoshin
  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited November 2016

    One does not accept reality as it, one experiences reality as it when they are awakened to it. That does not mean that everything is OK just the way it is, it means that everything is as it is. This is a common misinterpretation that causes a lot of harm. It certainly does not mean to be silent when injustice is happening. Buddhism is about action in the world, not sitting on a cushion. Whenever we encounter violence, hatred, racism, cruelty, etc we are required, in my view, to respond appropriately. Our lives have to stand for something, otherwise why even be alive? We are wasting our lives if we sit back and do nothing, and if fact inaction leads to worse suffering for the world.

    The usual vows regarding sentient beings and saving them are powerful and mean something. I disagree totally w/ the sort of silence and lack of response from some "peace" groups that think that they are supposed to be passive to this sort of thing. That's just a cop out based on fear. We have to be fearless in our dealings w/ the world, not fearful. There are times to rock the boat lest others push it over and drown us.

    Complaining abut things and doing something about them are two different things. Complaining can often seem like complaining, but maybe it's just stating what is wrong and will lead to us to action at some point? That is always a possibility. Any act that we make, any word in the right direction, helps. A journey of a thousand miles and all that. We plant the seeds of karma right now, not in the past, and the effects are right now, not sometime in an indeterminate future. This is not easy, it requires stepping out of our conditioned thinking and behavior, and a lot of people honestly don't want to make a difference, they just want to want to make a difference.

    silverkarastilobster[Deleted User]
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @silver :lol: I mostly just think too much and have a lot of time on my hands. I do try to be an educated voter, but sometimes I drive myself crazy trying to find the truth when it's not really obtainable by the masses. There are people I do wish couldn't vote. I don't mean those who would vote differently than me. But even though I know it's not realistic and I'd never support this kind of thing in actuality, I kind of sometimes wish there was a test for voting, lol. Mostly because I can name at least 8 people who are acquaintances of mine who voted for our state representative because they liked his hair better. He was young and handsome versus the other guy who was 70. People who vote against the very things they say they want because they simply vote for whoever their parents voted for or who they found most attractive. I wish people took it even slightly more seriously.

    person
  • Just by being, you have changed the world. It can't be helped, your human.

    Peace to all

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Lionduck said:
    Just by being, you have changed the world. It can't be helped, your human.

    Peace to all

    That's an often overlooked point @Lionduck ...the intricate workings of the karma machine...
    Cause> Condition> Effect...the obvious and the not so obvious workings of karma...We have changed and are continually changing the world from moment to moment...
    "Natural Mystic"

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    "Your own self-realisation is the greatest gift you can give to the world"
    said by Sri Ramana Maharshi

    Shoshin
  • Always accept the world as it is whether it changes or remain the same. Remember that some want change while others want more of the same.

    If Trump wins, that is what is meant to be or else how could he have won? Also accept that there are enough people who hold views radically different from yours and are making their voices heard.

    Brexit and now this. We live in strange times.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Accept that the world changes.

    DhammaDragon
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    "Be the Witness," but you often have to move out of the way or get the ball rolling.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    "Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free.
    Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing"
    ~Zhuang Zi

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Dakini I was JUST thinking that. My compassion tank is not full enough to deal with this and I just want to crawl in a hole and cry. I will keep on, but for tonight I am done exposing myself to it. Longer meditation periods in the next few days. More hugs.

    lobsterDakini
  • Yeah, I get stressed whenever I listen to the news now, so I have to take a vacation from it. As it is, I only ever listen to NPR. But now, I can't even hack that. ugh. sigh

  • No news is good news.

    Could be a plan?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @David I really like that. Thank you.

  • :)

    Guys the same kind of shock happened with Brexit. Shock, bewilderment and then we carry on. The causes show how alienated/let down some people are.
    America elected a puffed up clown. However America is not a nation of clowns. Something about 'we the people' ... and if you did vote for Trump, your reasons are respectable ... in other words not everyone is crazed ... some are just protesting against the prevailing situation ...

    Stay well. Very good plan from @David

    person
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @lobster said:
    :)

    Guys the same kind of shock happened with Brexit. Shock, bewilderment and then we carry on. The causes show how alienated/let down some people are.
    America elected a puffed up clown. However America is not a nation of clowns. Something about 'we the people' ... and if you did vote for Trump, your reasons are respectable ... in other words not everyone is crazed ... some are just protesting against the prevailing situation ...

    Stay well. Very good plan from @David

    Yeah, the republican loyalists and the racists got on board with Trump, but I think what got him over the top, as in Brexit, were the people who's lives have changed for the worse from globalization. Trump's madness didn't stop them because in most (white) people's minds Hillary wasn't much if any better in the personal qualities category.

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