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bell hooks on moving towards a culture of love

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited July 2 in Buddhism Today

I thought this article in Lions Roar was interesting and worth citing, because many Buddhist teachers don’t really talk about love very much. She cites quite a few other authors and its light on implementation and heavy on concept, but I like the idea.

https://www.lionsroar.com/toward-a-worldwide-culture-of-love/

Shoshin

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome , I took the liberty of capitalising the woman's name in the thread title, because it's a proper noun, and I'll be honest, I wondered what on earth bell hooks had to do with moving towards a culture of love... what, do we take the bells off, and hang little hearts from the hooks instead, or something...?

    Personally, I had never heard of the woman, so I didn't make any connection with the title being connected to a person.

    So... that's why.... :)

    howBunks
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Aha... I had left it uncapitalised because she is one of those people who doesn’t want their name to be capitalised... you will note in the article it is not caps either... I know, it’s a bit strange for those people who like their grammar proper. ;)

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Yes, bell hooks doesn't capitalize her name.

  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Explorer

    "For many Western seekers, the feeling that we had failed to create a culture of peace and justice led us back to an introspective search of our intimate relations, which more often than not were messy and full of strife, suffering, and pain. How could any of us truly believe that we could create world peace when we could not make peace in our intimate relationships with family, partners, friends, and neighbors?"

    "Dominator thinking and practice relies for its maintenance on the constant production of a feeling of lack, of the need to grasp. Giving love offers us a way to end this suffering—loving ourselves, extending that love to everything beyond the self, we experience wholeness."

    Thanks for sharing Kerome!

    lobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited July 2

    I don't want to derail the thread but I like to make a distinction between politeness and political correctness. Politeness has to do with a personal attitude one has to treat others with kindness and respect, political correctness has to do with forcing others to act the way you want them to.

    I'm pretty anti PC but I think since Kerome intentionally used the lower case version in his thread title and bell hooks actually wants her name spelled that way, the proper thing to do is to respect their decisions and leave it lower case.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited July 2

    @Kerome said:
    Aha... I had left it uncapitalised because she is one of those people who doesn’t want their name to be capitalised... you will note in the article it is not caps either... I know, it’s a bit strange for those people who like their grammar proper. ;)

    Not really that strange. Like the celebrated poet, e.e.cummings.

    I'm glad to know she's still around, sharing her thoughts and her work. Thanks for posting this, OP!

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Regarding the article itself. I agree with the general gist of the piece, I like the terms respect and kindness better than love. Maybe its too gooey for me or it has all sorts of other connotations in English. What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. Its the only thing that there's just too little of. No not just for some, but for everyone. But I also want to note a few points of disagreement.

    I think her narrative of love vs domination is a false dichotomy. I can think of one common third option, that of secularism. The idea that we all have a right to our own beliefs and that none of us has a right to impose those beliefs on another. You don't have to love someone to not dominate them.

    The notion that 30 years ago western Buddhism was akin to being a leftist, like it isn't still that today. Western Buddhism is self selected left like gun clubs are self selected right. In that same vein, the left doesn't have a monopoly on love. All the ways she talks about love expressing itself are distinctly politically left. I'd say that the left puts a greater emphasis on it and draws a much wider circle with who is included, but I know lots of non leftists who are quite comfortable with expressions of love. I'm thinking about my Trump supporting redneck brother in law and some of his friends, he had his 40th birthday last summer and his daughter made a video of it, in it two of his close male friends unflinchingly expressed their love for him directly into the camera that they knew others would see. My Trump supporting Aunt is constantly posting on Facebook about taking care of the children and seeing disabled people as being fully human. Or videos of people being self sacrificial to help others.

    More directly to the statement that Buddhist teachers don't really talk about love all that much. Maybe we're listening to different teachers because I hear it being talked about all the time. Perhaps Tibetan teachers talk a lot more about compassion rather than love specifically.

    I'll end with a bit of caution about one of the ways I notice an overly focused approach of love with a quote by Lama Jampa Thaye, "Just because your views are compassionate, and the Buddha's views are compassionate, doesn't mean your views are Buddha's views".

    コチシカhowlobster
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @person said:
    I don't want to derail the thread but I like to make a distinction between politeness and political correctness. Politeness has to do with a personal attitude one has to treat others with kindness and respect, political correctness has to do with forcing others to act the way you want them to.

    I'm pretty anti PC but I think since Kerome intentionally used the lower case version in his thread title and bell hooks actually wants her name spelled that way, the proper thing to do is to respect their decisions and leave it lower case.

    Noted.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2

    I enjoyed this article and the way it connects Buddhism, love, and social engagement. I think that what she's talking about is what led me to become politically and socially engaged in the first place. I think in many cases, developing compassion, empathy, and love will naturally inspire one to address the suffering of others when possible, and that many of the ways love is expressed coincides with what we'd label ‘leftist’ political and social movements precisely because such movements are often motivated by love and a desire to protect and uplift others. They're less focused on 'me' and more on 'us' in the sense of all of our lives and predicaments being interconnected.

    I enjoyed this recent article from bell hooks, which connects Buddhism, love, and social engagement. I think that what she's talking about is what led me to become politically and socially engaged in the first place. I think in many cases, developing compassion, empathy, and love will naturally inspire one to address the suffering of others when possible, and that many of the ways love is expressed coincides with what we'd label ‘leftist’ political and social movements precisely because such movements are often motivated by love and a desire to protect and uplift others. It's less focused on 'me' and more on 'us' in the sense of all of our lives and predicaments being interconnected.

    Love compels us to move away from things like greed, selfishness, and competition and towards generosity, compassion, and cooperation. That's at least why I was drawn towards social engagement and more to left-leaning politics, because that's where love and compassion directed me. A mind suffused with love, for example, will see someone struggling with injury or illness within a system that makes it difficult for them to afford and access care and be inspired to help, whether through charity or through supporting a more accessible and universal healthcare system.

    That doesn't mean I think that only people who are political active or on the left end of the political spectrum are capable of love, only that I see why she connects love to the end of domination, and how that tends towards movements and ideas that we associate with the label 'leftist' today. Alternatives to capitalism. Universal healthcare. Addressing climate change. Gender equality. Black Lives Matter. Etc. Because much of that domination is rooted in fear and anger and greed. Systems and institutions and cultures have been built to protect what we have from others and to maintain positions of privilege for certain segments of the population, and love compels us to confront and end those things because of the suffering they engender—from sexism and racism to imperialism and militarism and the profit motive.

    I'd even go so far as to say that, after studying and practicing in multiple spiritual traditions, I've come to the conclusion a truly spiritual person who follows the underlying message of their respective faiths will necessarily be empathetic, inclusive, and ultimately, intersectional in their politics, but more importantly in their actions regardless of what their politics are. I think this can be seen from the lives of people like Giro Seno'o, Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero, Malcolm X, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gustavo Gutierrez, MLK Jr., Rachel Held Evans, and countless others. As Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr puts it:

    "If we are going to have truly prophetic people who go beyond the categories of liberal and conservative, we have to teach them some way to integrate their needed activism with a truly contemplative mind and heart. I’m convinced that once you learn how to look out at life from the contemplative eyes of the True Self, your politics and economics are going to change on their own. I don’t need to teach you what your politics should or shouldn’t be. Once you see things contemplatively, you’ll begin to seek the bias from the bottom instead of the top, you’ll be free to embrace your shadow, and you can live at peace with those who are different. From a contemplative stance, you’ll know what action is yours to do—and what is not yours to do—almost naturally."

    Love moves us to act against suffering and injustice, because love motivates up to try and heal rather than harm. Love moves us to swim against the current of what she terms "dominator thinking and practice," which "relies for its maintenance on the constant production of a feeling of lack, of the need to grasp"; and that conversely, "Giving love offers us a way to end this suffering—loving ourselves, extending that love to everything beyond the self, we experience wholeness" and through that "we are healed." And that love can be expressed in many ways, not just in the realm of the political. It can be expressed in any number of daily personal interactions and small acts of kindness and generosity.

    lobsterKeromeMorningstar
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Humanistic Buddhism comes to mind...

    Humanism has been defined as the faith in the supreme value of self-perfectibility of human personality. However, it broadly indicates to a shifting of focus from supernaturalism to naturalism, from transcendental to the existing, from absolute reality to the living reality. It has been contended that it is Buddhism that should be promoted as true humanism. Buddhism is the practice of peaceful and compassionate humanity towards each other and entire sentient beings in the universe. It is a religion of compassion, humanity and egalitarianism. Among other world religions, probably Buddhism has greater claim to declare itself as a humanistic religion. In Buddhism, humanism is that attitude of mind, which attaches primary importance to human beings.

    The term Humanistic Buddhism was first coined by Ven. Tai Xu and adopted by Master Hsing Yun. The primary goal of Humanistic Buddhism is to lead to the Bodhisattva practice, which means to be an energetic, enlightened and endearing person who strives to help sentient beings liberate themselves. Humanistic Buddhism focuses on issues of the world, caring for the living, benefiting others and universal salvation. It is the practical interpretation of theoretical Buddhism, which has become relevant in the modern world. It also emphasizes on application of wisdom that has been realized so far.

    The Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order, which was founded by the Grand Master Hsing Yun, is dedicated to the development of Humanistic Buddhism. The Grand Master has provided active leadership and vision to the idea to turn it into the necessity of the modern world and benefit entire sentient beings. His leadership turned the idea of ‘Humanistic Buddhism’ into the universal movement.

    The Fundamental Concepts of Humanistic Buddhism

    Humanistic Buddhism is the integration of our spiritual practice into all aspects of our daily lives. Humanistic Buddhism has the following six characteristics.

    1. Humanism/altruism
      The Buddha was neither a spirit--coming and going without leaving a trace-- nor a figment of one’s imagination. The Buddha was a living human being. Just like the rest of us, he had parents, a family, and he lived a life. It was through his human existence that he showed his supreme wisdom of compassion, ethical responsibility, and prajna-wisdom. Thus, he is a Buddha who was also (in the past) a human being.

    2. Emphasis on daily life as spiritual practice
      In his teachings, the Buddha placed great importance on daily life as spiritual practice. He provided guidance on everything, from how to eat, dress, work, and live, to how to walk, stand, sit, and sleep. He gave clear directions on every aspect of life, from relations among family members and between friends to how we should conduct ourselves in the social and political arenas.

    3. Joyfulness
      The Buddhist teachings give people joy

    4. Altruism
      The Buddha was born into this world to teach, to provide an example, and to bring joy to all beings. He nurtured all beings, for he always had the best interests of others in his mind and heart. In short, his every thought, word, and action arose from a heart filled with deep care and concern for others.

    5. Timeliness
      The Buddha was born for a great reason: to build a special relationship with all of us who live in this world. Although the Buddha lived some 2,500 years ago and has already entered nirvana, he left the seed of liberation for all subsequent generations. Even today, the Buddha’s ideals and teachings serve as timely, relevant guides for us all.

    6. Universality of wanting to save all beings
      The entire life of the Buddha can be characterized by the Buddha’s spirit of wanting to liberate all beings, without exclusion. [The Buddha loved beings of all forms, whether they were animals or humans, male or female, young or old, Buddhist or not Buddhist, etc

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    So it's a personally-spiritual decision, not necessarily a Grammarly-correct one. God save me from the precious politically-correct. Sheeesh... rolleyes.

    It reminds me of that basketball player Metta World Peace. The only time I've ever seen him was when he was in a punch up on the court.....Metta World Peace indeed......

    adamcrossley
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    Her article reminds me of the topic of the most recent episode of On Being, which I think is perfectly summarized by Vincent Harding's line: "Love trumps doctrine every time."

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A well-written piece @jason, you’ve neatly summed up what drew me to the article in the first place, although I don’t think I could have articulated it as well.

    federica
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