Skip to main content

Good morning!  Welcome to the DKos Sangha weekly open thread.

This is an open thread for members of the DKos Sangha and others who are interested in discussions concerning how we integrate our progressive political activism into our spiritual practice.  If you have observations about the political discourse of the week, or about practice, or about anything else related to walking a spiritual path through the political world, if you wish to share, or if you seek support, or if you simply want to say hello, please do; this space is for you.

If you would like to host a weekly open thread, please let me know.

If you care nothing for spiritual practice and only wish to denigrate and disparage, please do so elsewhere, and respect that this is a community diary for the DKos Sangha.

In looking around for something to write about this morning, I came across an article written back in 2007 (during the Bush administration) by Ethan Nichtern titled The Dharma Is Always Political; a rather intriguing title.  Nichtern's is an interesting approach to the issue of spiritual practice and political engagement.  Nichtern is writing within a Buddhist context, but what he writes applies to spiritual paths broadly.  The entire article is worth a read, but here are the lines that first really grabbed my attention ...

One could argue that the moral imperatives arising from the truth of interdependence - that nothing happens in a vacuum - will necessarily lead us as meditators to certain stances on social issues. One could argue that a growing awareness of oneself as part of a much larger network of sentiency would automatically lead to a deep concern about the climate crisis and lack of universal healthcare. One could argue that Buddhism’s unequivocal instructions on the destructiveness of violence would lead us to constantly challenge the ever-expanding military industrial complex and a heroin-like addiction to war without end. One could argue that the inner meditative work we do - consistently noticing our own internal biases - leads one to a particular perspective over racial, gender, and lifestyle biases in our economic and judicial systems. One could even directly quote Buddhist scripture, like the Kutadanta Sutta, in which a king is instructed that the solution to a crime epidemic in his country is not further incarceration, but a radical redistribution of wealth and opportunity. This piece of Buddhist scripture might lead one to be deeply disturbed by our prison-industrial complex, as well as the insanities of wealth inequality on Planet Earth. One could argue that these various insights and instructions knit together to form a political platform (Call us the "Interdependence" Party), and that we as meditators and citizens of representative democracy should choose representative leaders whose actions best embody this platform.
Again, he's writing in 2007 during Bush's war for the oilfields in Iraq.  Those lines got my attention, but here's his main point ...
It’s not enough to talk about compassion as care and nurturing for the suffering of other individual beings. For ours to be a meaningful discussion of compassion, we must discuss structural suffering caused by systems of collective karma, because the suffering of individuals can never be untangled from the system in which individuals participate. In democratic society, this examination of systems means we have an inescapable responsibility to participate politically, and therefore an inescapable responsibility to enter political discourse. If we aren’t willing to talk about our meditation practice as it connects to the systems we all co-create and live within, then what are we even talking about? Not much at all.
One's spiritual practice, the experience of the interdependence of all things, the interconnectedness and co-arising of all things, leads to an inescapable responsibility to participate politically.  His closing paragraph includes these lines ...
Beyond a participation in the formal political process or engagement in any particular issue, our meditation practice leads us to a much deeper and more pervasive definition of what it means to vote. As meditators, we become intimately and systematically aware of the link between our mental conditioning and the actions that bloom from our state of mind. We also become aware of the complex and subtle effects of those actions on ourselves and the collective communities in which we live.
It's an interesting article, and an interesting approach to the questions that arise when considering how we integrate political engagement within our spiritual practice.  Nichtern sees political engagement as an imperative that must arise as a result of the spiritual realization, the present-awareness experience, of the interconnectedness of all beings, and the selfless compassion that arises out of that realization.

The article has certainly given me much to think about, and I could write further on the thoughts that are arising in response to what I've read here.  But I think these passages I've quoted are enough to leave you with for the moment; and are in themselves an interesting contribution to the work we do here on Daily Kos.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Originally posted to DKos Sangha on Sun May 19, 2013 at 07:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site