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Involvement in politics does not malign Buddhism

by Tim McNamara, St. Paul, MN (USA), The Buddhist Channel, Nov 24, 2005

I must disagree with Eric of Missoula MT regarding the actions of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and Mr. Barber. I do not see that Mr. Barber and the BPF have "maligned" Buddhism in any way.

Indeed, unlike many people protesting the war, Mr. Barber expressed
compassion rather than blame for President Bush among others. Had Mr. Barber attacked or castigated the President, I would probably have agreed with Eric.

There is much precedence in Buddhism for engagement in the political life of the world- the Buddha himself is reported to have offered advice to kings and princes regarding politics.

One of the consequences of Buddhist practice is to take action to reduce the suffering of others- indeed this is the essence of the vow of the bodhisattvas. War causes suffering, and Buddhists can act to help end war.

Practice leads one to be engaged in the world, not withdrawn from it. Involvement of Buddhists in the political life of the world does not sully or malign Buddhism.

The Middle Way has much to offer a world divided and in conflict - do not Buddhists have an ethical obligation to make available the Fourfold Truth, the Eightfold Path, the Precepts and especially non-self, impermanence and interdependence? Certainly individual awareness and practice help the world, but saying "Namu Amida Butsu" does not feed hungry Iraqi children.

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