Politics from a Buddhist Perspective
September 2, 2020
Hosho Peter Coyote
I spoke before about the Eightfold Path, which essentially the very first
thing after the Four Noble Truths that the Buddha taught.
The Eightfold Path can be imagined as the classic wheel controlling the
rudder on a sailboat, where the spokes extend beyond the circumference? The
Eightfold Path has 8 such spokes and though they pass beyond the
circumference and appear as isolate events, they are actually connected.
Beginning artbitrarily at the upper vertical [12 on a clock] Samadhi,
meditating. Classically, each is prefaced with the word “Right” (as in
“Correct”) but my teacher and I prefer to substitute “Buddhist”—to avoid
implying that someone else’s path is wrong.
Moving clockwise, beginning at Buddhist Samadhi we encounter the other steps
in the Eightfold Path-- Buddhist View, Buddhist Resolve, Buddhist Speech,
Buddhist Conduct, Buddhist Livelihood, Buddhist Effort, Buddhist
Mindfulness, which connects us back to Buddhist Samadhi. In the earliest
teachings of the Buddha that path itself was the route to enlightenment, or
one might say an enlightened life because enlightenment is a verb. It’s not
a mental state residing in some mental dimension separated from our ordinary
reality by a barrier of consciousness which we can hurdle by practice.
People who believe that, may believe that once on the other side they will
inhabit a nirvana of perfect calmness and wisdom with no effort required. I
think of this as “geographical” enlightment, the idea that it is only
available in some locus separate from one’s ordinary existence.
The truth is otherwise. The idea of enlightenment ( perhaps after kensho or
an awakening experience) as a verb stresses behavior. If you are not
practicing kindness, gentle speech, constancy of effort to help others, a
non-exploitative livelihood, etc. who cares what rarified mental state you
may have glimpsed?
Buddhism is not about discovering a perfect mental state to escape earthly
turmoil and live your life like a free day at the mall. It is about reducing
avoidable suffering and sharing those skills to help others=--recognizing
our total interdependence (or as Thich Nhat Han puts it—“interbeing”) with
I want to begin with “Buddhist View” because this leads us into social
interactions and politics in a several ways. Buddha’s original statement
about Views, was very simple., “Actions have consequences and not even death
will stop them.” It wasn’t until centuries later, that karma and
reincarnation were added to this formulation.
In my Zen tradition we don’t concentrate too much on reincarnation practice
maintaining our focus on what is right here, right now, in this moment.
Speaking bluntly, I have always wondered at the inconsistency between the
Buddha’s teaching that the self is not a fixed and discrete entity,
independent of the rest of the universe, and the assertion that some
peculiar, discrete ‘something’ transmigrates after death. Since no one
actually knows, most Zen people keep their attention in the present.
It may be that because Buddhism originally gestated in a Hindu culture with
a vast perspective and love of extraordinarily large numbers of eons (kalpas)
in their metaphysics, that there was a certain amount of cultural or tribal
beliefs that bled into later practices of Buddhism. The Buddha was very
successful about breaking down cultural prejudices. He did not recognize
castes, nor discriminate against women. All people could come together and
practice and form a community and that practice was the Eightfold Path.
In much the same manner, Jesus of Nazareth is credited with ‘democratizing’
Judaism to allow the inclusion of the Roman intelligentsia who were curious
about it.(I imagine in much the same way that Americans became curious about
Buddhism) They were allowed to watch services, and drink water instead of
wine. When Jesus recognized their presence and served them wine, the event
was memorialized with the mnemonic tale (called Pesher by Biblical
historians) of “changing water into wine.”
There is another way to consider View. Our normal, colloquial understanding
of self is as a little capsule of awareness, discrete from the rest of the
Universe-- my eyes … my five senses feed my brain and translate the world.
“I” am “in here” and the rest of it is “out there.” It feels familiar, and
is not false, but insufficient.
One of the Buddha’s significant contributions was the explanation of
dependent origination, colloquially expressed as “no this-no that.” No apple
tree, no apples. No soil, no apple tree. No microbes in the soil, no apple
tree. No sunshine, no oxygen, no moisture, no birds, no pollinating
insects-- no apple tree, no oxygen, sunlight, water, soil, etc.—no people.
The” insufficiency” I mentioned in the paragraph above this one, is that
there is an alternate,m true and equally valid description of reality, which
is that it is one big interdependent “sucheness” (One can’t even call it a
‘thing.”] If you consider the Earth our “host,” every one of the “ten
thousand things” could be imagined as hairs on the body of a
dog--Inseparable from it.
I mention this because when we consider ourselves a discrete, separate self,
it’s very easy to manufacture, imply, and accrue ideas about that self. We
are often told “who we are” and by comparing who we think we are to others,
we imply things about ourselves. “Self” is a word, so it’s easy to begin to
think of it as a “thing” with a graspable identity. It is effortless to
begin confusing those ideas with facts. Confusing, the map (of a word) with
the territory. In fact, our sense-of-self is an awareness. We can’t locate
precisely where it is. We can’t define its color or its shape. We take it at
face value that we experience a sense of self and usually the investigation
The problem with having too many ideas about ourselves (and other selves) is
that we tend to pick and choose what we like and what we don’t. That is
implicit in that act of identifying ourselves. We all want to consider
ourselves “good” Yet, the truth is, as human beings, we are like radios,
tuned to the human frequency. Any thought, feeling, impulse, sensation
available to any human may arrive over our spinal telephone.
We’re not “the good guys”. I don’t care how long you have practiced Buddhism
or gone to church or mosque-- you are a human being. I don’t care how many
tantric yoga exercises you do; you are a human being. And as a human being,
like it or not, anger, envy, delusion, rage and greed are going arrive
within alongside all the beneficent and tender sentiments no one has any
problem owning. What Buddhist the mindfulness of practice, or any spiritual
practice helps you do, is stop aberrant expressions—impulses-- at your
teeth, at the edge of your body, before they are committed to speech or
action. We do our own internal house-cleaning and don’t send negative and
unhealthy thoughts or actions (kleshas) into the world—if we can help it. If
we can’t, we practice more diligently.
We have a President right now who is easy to hate, and be angry at; to hold
personally responsible for for every injustice and violation of norms. It is
important to understand that we are not different in source from Donald
Trump. We don’t misbehave as badly, but there certainly have been times in
our lives … Certainly in my life-- where I’ve been selfish, self-involved,
willing to do nearly anything to get what I wanted. Hopefully most of us go
through a learning curve and change our behaviors as we mature, but that
doesn’t mean that we remain exempt from those qualities and impulses. If we
believe that, we will outsource the qualities of which we disapprove and
point to Donald Trump as if he is the repository aof all evil. It is an
unconscious way of exempting ourselves from those qualities in our own
minds. We all struggle with anger. We all struggle with taking sides. We all
struggle with dichotomies.
If you understand that, it means that you can disagree with someone from a
non-judgmental perspective. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, seems
like a gift of weak tea. But when you don’t judge the actor, but the act,
something changes in relationships. People feel safer and they relax.
Some of you may know that I spent 8 years working for Governor Jerry Brown,
when he was Governor during his first two terms. In my second year I was
elected Chair by my Board. At the time things were very contentious, and I
was pouring fuel onto the fire with intemperate speech and a
take-no-prisoners. My idea was to assassinate any enemies the good cause
(the State Arts Council) my peers and I were shepherding and in short order,
that attitude succeeded in dividing and gridlocking the state. I had all our
minions—the largely underfunded and unrecognized community artists on my
side, and all the State’s major institutions, power, money, and influential
Board members on the other side. Nothing was being accomplished.
The Governor summoned me to his office, for a very, succinct lecture. He
said, “Pete, in a democracy, all boats rise, or all boats sink. You can’t
play favorites.”Luckily for me, I was in my third year of Buddhist practice,
and opening up enough to listen.
When I reconsidered my stategy and behavior, it occurred to me, belatedly,
that my opponents were paying taxes and supporting this agency and deserved
the expectation that their culture would be treated fairly. From that
understanding, (and the fact that the Governor acceded to a request from me,
and the previous Chairman, Gary Snyder to put a twenty million dollar
request for the arts into his budget, I was able to reach out to people I
had alienated--beginning by apologizing to a number I had ridiculed or
dismissed to invite them to join a coalition whose policies would include
them, that raised our $1 million budget to $5 million that second year and
eventually to $20 million.
The best measure of success for me personally occurred at my last Senate
Finance Committee meeting, where I was begging for Council’s last budget. I
was facing three men I considered rock-ridged conservatives that I had been
in pitched combat with for years. The Chairman, a venerable white haired man
named Al Alquist, who was described by a colleague as a “fierce warrior”
ruled the Committee with an iron hand. He was staring down at me as if I
were an insect. Just before the event started, the three men reached under
their table and pulled out hippy headbands, placing them on their heads to
much mirth and cheering by their comrades.. I was moved beyond, because
after everything, they were saying goodbye, but also, “Welcome. You did
good.” Had I been less self-involved I might have discovered earlier that Al
Alquist was not a Conservative, but a committed New Deal Democrat.
Experience has that me that dropping divisive judgments and forging personal
relationships works in the secular world. You may not always get want you
want, but building a relationship is not making enemies. Many times during
my Chairmanship, these men steered my budget through the political
machinations of state government in Sacramento, even overruling the State’s
Budget analyst to insure that the Council got what it needed. Sometimes they
voted against me on the record, to protect their flanks, but only after they
knew that the Council’s budget was secure.
As I continued my Buddhist practice, I developed a deeper understanding of
how and why that practice works. The first thing I’d like to suggest is that
when we go on Facebook, and we rant or are sarcastic with those we disagree
with, when we share vicious articles, and when we share negative
information, we are dripping acid in drinking water. There is only one
source of water and we are allowing our anger, and our bitterness to acidify
it. At first, our pique may be just adding a little lemon juice – giving a
little zing and a little taste to plain water. It’s kind of fun to vent and
makes us feel powerful and competent. Believe me, I know how much fun it is
I was so good at it, that even after my successes and three terms as
Chairman, the Legislature passed a law forbidding me another term.
Eventually, with enough anger, we are all drinking straight lemon juice.
That’s where we are right in America this Autumn of 2020. Considering that,
leads me to consider Buddhist Speech.
The Buddha’s utterances about about Buddhist Speech were pretty
straightforward-- No lying, no rude speech, no telling another person what
someone said about them in any way to cause discord or to harm their
It’s a tall order. It’s not easy because our speech is habitually tied to
our impulses. And our impulses are tied to our world view. One of the
benefits of meditation is habituating the body to calmness, and dropping
temporarily out of our habitual personal view into Big Mind—the common
generative source where everything is available. Millions of different kinds
of fish live in the ocean. They are all in essentially the same ocean. Which
leads me to the question of protest, something I’m quite concerned about.
Last year, I was invited to teach for a week at Harvard on “The Theater of
Protest”, and to help students create an agitprop drama as we used to do in
the San Francisco Mime Troupe. I’ve dedicated a lot of thought to protests
particularly since many of those of my youth had unanticipated consequences.
I feel as if I am watching a rerun of those consequences today, as the
demonstrations of Black Lives Matter become coopted by provocateurs,
Boogaloos, militias, and radical anarchists, eventually winding up as
Republican campaign videos.
As supportive as I am of Black Lives Matter, and as much as I support the
right of protest, as a friendly critic who has made and witnessed mistakes I
am seeing replicated today, I feel the need to make some suggestions.
The unanticipated consequences of my youth, struggling sometimes violently,
against the horrors of the Vietnam War and Racism, were skillfully
transmuted by Richard Nixon who blamed the protestors, the youth, and
African Americans for the violence roiling our streets.The general public
became so disturbed at nightly reports of violence and lawlessness, that
Nixon was able to equate Black people with Heroin and “Hippies” and
revolutionaries with LSD in the public mind which voted for Richard Nixon,
therebye ushering decades of reallawlessness and huge swing to the
right-wing of politics.
A protest is actually a ceremony. It is is an invitation to participate in a
better world. Protestors are inviting people to consider another way of
doing things, inviting people to behave in a different way.
All ceremonies have a sense of theater about them because they are designed
to be observed. When we forget that we are creating a ceremony and that it
is being observed, we can lose track of the message, and more importantly
can become confused about who the audience is that the event should be
crafted to reach.
I wanted to say a few things about protests. I’ve thought about this, and if
you agree with me, I’d like you to share them because there are a few
remedial steps that might be taken if we change our focus to consider
protests a theatrical ceremony and our audience more carefully.
The first, most important point is that the appropriate audience is not the
police or the politicians. The audience should be the mass of Americans, who
are trying to decide which side they are on and who they will vote for. The
“mass” must include those living between the Alleghanies and the Sierras not
simply sophisticated urban, elites. Many of those Americans, may be more
socially conservative than I am. Many may have different ideas about
abortion or the death penalty or this or that but a culture is not a
single-issue idea. A thriving culture can keep many ideas afloat and in
contest without destroying itself. The Unborn are of no concern to the Dead.
So environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists could easily find
commonality in insuring that both sides of the debate remain alive.
We can either concentrate on differences, or we can concentrate on the
commonalities of the critical mass required to win political power. If I
were somehow able to organize protests in the United States, I would
initiate the following steps:
Appoint proctors, and give them whistles. Put them in some common ‘uniform’
and inform them that their job is not to chant or shout but watch the crowd
for signs of violence. At the first sign of violence Proctors should blow
these whistles, and all Protestors immediately sit down. This immediately
distinguishes the protestors from provocateurs. Let the police wreak their
aggression on people destroying the neighborhoods.
I would ask everyone to dress as if they are going to church. It is very
difficult to “sell” a woman in a dress, or a man in a jacket and a tie as
violence seeking terrorists. That is precisely the strategy
African-Americans initiated so succesfully during the early days of the
Civil Rights struggle. They went to order food in segregated Woolworth’s,
knowing they were going to get beaten, dressed for church. Their dignity and
self-possession made the line between them and their opponents indelible.
America, watching, could clearly observe who were behaving like beasts, and
who like humans, and for most the choice was clear. Those protests initiated
the first great wave of civil rights changes in America. Those are the
shoulders protestors today are standing on.
I would urge silence. Let your signs speak. Let your discipline speak. No
one accepts an invitation when they are being shouted at. In fact, protests
have become ritualized, so that the police or the powers that be cordon off
an confine everybody into it, let them scream and receive 30 seconds of
camera time. And the audience, the people trying to decide what’s going on
and who they agree with go, “Oh yeah. People shouting,” and change the
channel. You can agree with what they are shouting about, or you can
disagree. But they are not addressing the audience that they need to win
power. African-Americans make up 13% of the population of the United States.
They need 38% of other citizens to gain the power to change laws.
That leads me to another way of regarding the situation, that might be
closer to fact than normal conversational shorthand allows. I don’t know any
people who are the color of my toilet. I don’t know any “white” people. I
don’t know any people who are the color of coal, consequently I don’t know
any “black” people. We are chained to the terms white and black and they
prevent us achieving unifying solutions. “White” and “black” are basically
descriptions about how much Constitutional protection local, state, and
federal governments will offer a person, based on the amount of melanin in
their skin. Those colors do not describe anything human and in the same way
that we confuse the map with the territory by confusing a word as the object
it indicates, the terms white and black force our thinking into corridors
which lead to dehumanizing and pitiless destinations.
The shorthand forces us concentrate on distinctions between people. I’m
reminded of Suzuki-roshi’s wonderful quote, “Everything is perfect until you
compare. In a culture which has deep currents of white supremacy, comparing
all others to central European people commits injustice to everyone else. I
suggest that what’s required is an overarching frame of reference, to remind
us, at the level of language, that humans are one species. We have such a
term immediately at hand. It is “Citizen”.
I read an article in the New Yorker magazine this week about these militia
groups in Michigan, who stormed the legislature with military weapons to
protest the Governor’s shelter-in-place strategy to fight the pandemic. They
described themselves as “Three Percenters,” claiming that only 3% of
Americans fought the British during the Revolutionary War. They claim that
they are equivalent Three Percenters defending the Bill of Rights.
If that were true, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that they might be
marching alongside Black Lives Matter protestors demanding the protections
guaranteed them by the Bill of Rights? Perhaps protecting them from violent
agitators. If they were defending the Bill of Rights, wouldn’t they be
standing up for women to receive the same salary as men for equal work?. So,
it appears that they are defending only the Second Amendment-- their right
to carry weapons in the streets, what are they really protecting aside from
the right to own weapons of war and override democratic process with threats
If they are standing fast
with the police, who are failing to guarantee the protections of law and the
Constitution to all citizens, they are not Americans in the sense that I
understand the term. If “the Americans” is going to be team that we are all
in together, then an offense against a citizen is serious and every other
citizen should feel obligated to protect them.
My racial genotype shouldn’t matter,
nor my religion. If take being an American seriously and I see a citizen
being denied their legitimate rights, I should feel honor bound to step
forward in their defence.
One can accomplish that by showing up. You can do that in silence. You can
do that with a sign. You can do that with a piece of tape across your mouth,
because when you “stand for” something in silence, you are also transmitting
a powerful message of discipline and commitment to your audience, renouncing
verbal violence and transmitting a message of discipline and commitment. we
are not practicing violence of action.
Imagine a silent protest. Imagine that people are dressed for church,
regarding the protest as a ceremony, an invitation to a better world. How
much more difficult it would be to paint such people as ‘violent.’ Imagine
proctors with whistles whose only task is to scan the crowd for
trouble-makers, and upon seeing them, the blow the whistles and all
protestors sit down immediately. The distinction between serious principled
people and mob would be immediately apparent wouldn’t it? Finally, imagine
that all serious protestors leave at dusk.
If such procedures and rules of engagement for protestors became publicly
known, it is easy for the audience—the American people-- to keep track of
who is disciplined and following the rules and who is not. Audiences are
good at that. They know the rules to football and baseball and basketball.
They know what the rules are. Once they know the rules, they delight in
following the game, and if someone breaks a rule by overinflating football,
for instance, the audience is outraged.
Protestors need to set some rules (or forms) forprotests. The protests are
expressions of Buddhist View. Protestors should not be denying the humanity
of those they are opposing. Yes, they may be bigoted. They may have had life
experiences and training that led them to very different conclusions than
Buddhists hold, but they are still human beings and like us, always
available for awakening.. If we treat them that way, we are not only
consistent with our own beliefs, but may give our opponents pause for
I don’t want to go through the entire Eightfold Path again, but I do want to
read what the Buddha himself said about it, because it helps us, saves us
from misperception. The Buddha said:
Just this Noble Eightfold Path. Right View. Right Aspiration. Right Speech.
Right Action. Right Livelihood. Right Effort. Right Mindfulness. Right
Concentration. That is the ancient path.
The ancient road travelled by the rightly self-awakened ones of former
times. I follow that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging
and death. Direct knowledge of the origination of aging and death. Direct
knowledge of the cessation of aging and death. Direct knowledge of the path
leading to the cessation of aging and death.
I follow that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth,
becoming, clinging. Craving, feeling, contact, the six-sense media, name and
form, consciousness. Direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness.
Direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness. Direct knowledge of the
path leading to the cessation of consciousness.
I follow that path.
Lots of verbs here. “I follow that path”. “I practiced”. All action verbs.
As the writer David Harris once observed “Values that are not expressed as
action are meaningless.
”Resolve” for the earliest Buddhists meant giving up one’s home and becoming
a renunciate. But one could formulate their resolve to express universal
kindness. It could be the resolve to respect all species. It could be the
resolve to follow a peaceful, respectful path with all beings. However it is
expressed, fixing that intention and keeping it warm on “the back-burner” of
your mindf throughout your daily activities-- you walk, as you meet people,
practicing constant fidelity to that intention so that that rather than
giving someone the finger who irritates you while driving (perilously close
to pulling a trigger) perhaps what arises is a sardonic “Really?!”
When we say, “I vow to save all beings”, it is obvious. I’m not going to
meet all beings. But by treating each person in every circumstance as an
opportunity for enlightened kindness, I’m behaving in a way that can be
observed and modeled. And the hope is someone else will see that is a good
way to be and carry it on. In that way, it becomes eternal.Keeping that
attention in our consciousness like a mantra. Not being absent-minded. Not
lapsing is how we gradually change our behavior to conform with our
Am I consistent at this? No. Believe me. I sometimes laugh at myself when I
lay something down unconsciously and then can’t find it. But I keep
practicing. The other day I was looking for something and looking so
intently that at a certain point I forgot what I was looking for. I was
standing in front of my open refrigerator, searching the contents … when I
remembered that I was actually looking for my fountain pen.
So, you know, I’m going to be absent-minded, but I’m not going to pretend
I’m not, and I’m going to keep practicing to improve. We say, somewhere
Buddha is still working on himself. But that is why we call it “practice”.
Because when our mind wanders, we return our attention to our breath. When
our posture slumps, we return to upright, and we keep practicing. The more
we practice, like housebreaking a puppy, the better we get at it.
This is a dark and difficult time, and there is much to consider every
day.Divisiveness is omnipresent and it infects all communications,
particularly political ideas. IT is the responsibility of clear-headed
people to model calmness, kindness and open-heartedness. If they will not,
who can we expect might? If we are going to survive as a country, we need to
discover some some lens, through which we all appear equal. No one wants
I’m suggesting that we reinvigorate our understanding of what being a
citizen is, and what the rights of a citizen are, and we make it our
practice to ensure that every citizen receives those rights and protections.
It doesn’t matter if we like our citizens. You don’t have to like black
people or gay people, or people with bad taste. It diminishes your world if
you do, but you’re only harming yourself with those prejudices. You don’t
have to like Pakistanis. But if America is ever going to fulfill the
identity, that we fervently declare we want to be then we have to take
commitment to all citizens seriously!
When we see a citizen being denied the right to vote, “them’s fighting
words”! We have to stand up. We don’t have to be angry, but we have to
register our point of view. We have to register it in a way that people will
If we can do that, calmly and with respect, things soften up. People relax.
I’ve got all sorts of friends. I’ve got friends who think covid-19 is a
total flaw, that Dr. Fauci is trying to prevent any other cure, but his
vaccines that he has patents with, from reaching the market. Levels of
suspicion that are astounding to me.But, everything in this moment evolved
from the moment immediately prior. If we consider America, even since the
early 70s, during Presidents Carter and Reagan’s administrations –we can see
the roots of much of the current rage in our political system today, a rage
that began as whole sectors of the citizenry were sacrificed.
When President Carter’s Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Voelker, raised
interest rates 5 points in a single day, hundreds of thousands of family
farmers were bankrupted. These farmers had gone into debt at the urging of
the Department of Agriculture and the Farm Bureaus, who told them that they
were protected by rising land values, borrow and buy big equiptment, plant
fence-row to fence-row. They did, and they lost their farms!
They lost the labors of generations and were bathed in shame. The leading
cause of death on the family farm became suicide and for every 5 farms that
closed, a local business closed. All across the Farm Belt, towns lost high
school principals, lost hardware stores, clothing stores, and lost grocery
stores. It became a dead and dying zone filled with extraordinary
resentment, that urban people had no idea about.
Secretary of Department of Agriculture, Earl BUtz policies was saying
explicitly, “Get big or get out!” and supporting corporate agribusiness over
the small farmers. They were willingly sacrificing the family farmer to
corporations with no understanding of what it was doing to the culture,self-sufficiency
and the innate wisdom of people who worked a piece of land, and understood
it intimately. The farmers were transformed from autonomous, independent
people into employees of the major agricultural corporations.
Many people who voted for Donald Trump did so because they’ felt abandoned
by Republicans and Democrats. That’s what came before [this moment]. So did
The Savings and Loan Scandal which wiped 250 billion dollars out of private
savings and pensions. Less than 20 years later, President Clinton loosened
banking regulations again, signing a bill which ended Glass-Stiegel, a law
which had prevented banks from speculating with the savings of investors, a
law in place since the Great Depression. The result was the economic
collapse of 2008 and 6 million people a month being evicted from their
homes, on television, month after month. How many of those folks think
kindly of the Democrats, one wonders? Or the union people who President
Reagan signalled open-season on when he fired 11,000 striking air-traffic
controllers, and the corporate sector followed by insuring that
right-to-work-states blossomed and that the National Labor Relations Board
(NLRB) was weakened—destroying the wealth producing engine of the middle
Consider that when you see the rage of Trump supporters and the desperation
of their hope, that despite multiple suits for fraud, and transgressions
against decency they rally behind the President hoping for a “Hail Mary
pass” that might save them. You are looking at desperate people whose world
has been thoughtlessly shattered. You are looking people who are scared to
death, and they deserve a compassionate regard.
It’s a good exercise to put ourselves in shoes of the people that we call we
disagree with. The Democrats are not pure in this scenario. There’s blame to
go around. The entire Congress voted on GATT and NAFTA, and while there may
have been good reasons for it, they allotted less money to retrain US
workers for the jobs that globalism might produce than any industrialized
country on earth.
Democrats can’t pretend that they are the “good” people and had nothing to
do with the decisions that harmed so many. It is past time to open up and
see things “as it is.” There is no better vehicle to help us do this, than
Q1: In the 1980s, when the Peace and Justice movement was focused on partly
and rightfully on nuclear weapons proliferation, people of Zen Center in Los
Angeles sat in zazen at the gates of nuclear facilities.
A: They did that up here [in Northern California] as well.
Q1 continued: It’s a practice I would like to see more and fits well with
what you suggest. Gary Snyder added the idea that Zen students should also
think about being the cooks who present simple tasty meals at these
protests, since Zen communities are centers of sanity, lucidity and good
A: He’s right. If we have the correct intention there are many ways in which
we can contribute. We just have to consider it. I think this is enough,
perhaps too much.
I’ll see everyone next week, I hope. [Bow]