Ad    Shalom Place Community    Shalom Place Discussion Groups  Hop To Forum Categories  General Discussion Forums  Hop To Forums  Transformative Experiences    David Loy on Individual and Social Transformation
David Loy on Individual and Social Transformation Login/Join
Next to Bede Griffiths, perhaps the most interesting guest to be interviewed by Jim Arraj for Inner Explorations would be David Loy.

This was radical in the sixties, and it still is.
Zen Philosophers and social criticism have been going on for a long time. As thier Taoist counterparts frequently discovered,those who did not back the empire had the uncanny ability to have themselves tortured in ways that would make waterboarding seem tame by comparison.

"The same thing is true with romantic love. Again, something we take for granted today, but if you look at the history of romance, it starts right at that time. The romance of Tristan and Isolde, and the troubadours, originally a very spiritual approach, especially with the troubadours, but after a while you can see that degenerated or became a more secularized with a preoccupation with the personal and sexual fulfillment through another person. So the relationship that you establish with another person becomes a kind of religion for two people. And perhaps even more important, given the kind of social changes we are undergoing now, our present obsession with money, stock markets, and so forth, is again something that would have seemed very strange to medieval man. It is something that has historical roots in that time. People like Max Weber, the great German sociologist pointed out, he has argued, though it is still very controversial, that the preoccupation with profit and growth, and capitalism as we know it, evolved out of certain and particular religious situations. The way that the Calvinist Puritans believed in predestination and therefore that discredited all the usual ways of trying to purify yourself spiritually, but in order to try to find some kind of sign that they were favored by God, they turned to material success. This led to a certain kind of psychic development, what Weber called a this worldly asceticism where you didn?t enjoy what you produced, but you tried to reinvest it in order to get more and more and always more in the hope that this would be a sign that you were saved.

Well, since then what has happened, of course, is that the preoccupation with the goal ? God and salvation after we die ? has disappeared, but that psychic way of looking at the world continues. We still look upon money as a kind of god, but a god that we can never atone completely. You never have enough money. You are never rich enough. You never consume enough in order to feel completely real. So if this is a kind of symbolical way to make ourselves real, it becomes a demonic one because we never make enough money, we never become rich enough, to feel real enough.

The Buddhist perspective in all this is that all of these ways of trying to make ourselves real simply cannot work, and that?s what makes them all demonic. If trying to become famous is how to make yourself real, you are never going to become famous enough. We can understand a lot of the problems that happen in interpersonal relationships, the high rates of divorce and so forth, is that people are trying to achieve something through a personal relationship that the relationship cannot provide. And of course the same thing is true of money. We are preoccupied with money as a means to feel real, you are never going to have enough, and I think that says a lot about the kind of culture that we are caught in now. The only solution as I see it is a religious one. It doesn?t have to be Buddhist. I think all religions at their best have offered an alternative. The Buddhist is simply one good example of it. Through following the Buddha?s path it enables us to realize our emptiness, to let go of ourselves in order to stop denying the emptiness, stop trying to see it and feel it as a void that makes us uncomfortable. Instead, by dereflecting, and letting go of our egos, we can fall into this void. We can let go of ourselves, and then realize we are a manifestation of it, that it is not something to run away from, but if we accept our essential emptiness, then we realize that we are like fountains flowing forth from something whose source we never really understand or need to understand. That is what transforms this emptiness from a sense of lack because we are always trying to secure ourselves into something very creative at the very core of our being. It gives us a sense that we are in touch with something much deeper than we are. It is as if at the roots of the unconscious something is opened up, and it enables something to flow forth, which wasn?t able to flow forth before.

This perspective on money and what money means to us symbolically, because money is of course a symbol, it is the socially agreed symbol, but it is basically just a symbol ? you can?t eat it or travel in it or sleep under it ? but this has led to sort of rejuvenating me or bringing me back in touch with the social concerns that were originally expressed with the draft resistance during the Vietnam war. It has enabled me to see much more of the relevance of all these kinds of religious ideas for what is happening in our society today. So out of the money article, or the money section of the book, I have been looking much more into the nature of our present economic system. This has led to a number of other articles, one of them called "The Religion of the Market" which is arguing in much the same vein that I have expressed, that we can?t really understand the kind of obsession that we have for money and stock markets and banks and so forth, and the growth of the economy until we realize that our obsession with the market is because it has become a kind of religion for us. It now serves a kind of religious function. We think we have gotten rid of religion. Well, you never get rid of religion. If you get rid of it consciously, it comes out, it comes back in all kinds of unconscious, repressed, and therefore usually demonic forms. Unfortunately, again, if it is a religion, it is not a very good religion because it can never give us what we really want from it. We can never have enough. We can never be rich enough. We can never consume enough.

This has also encouraged me to look at things like corporations, the history of corporations, not only the history of corporations, but the history of our modern institutions generally. The last main piece that I have been working on has been trying to offer an institutional complement to the personal understanding of what happened in the Renaissance. There I could see pretty clearly how our present preoccupations with fame, romantic love, and money began, but you can also look at the evolution of our institutions, not only capitalism, but also the origin of the nation state, which occurred at exactly the same time, and the origins to our present approach to science and technology. The nation state is something we tend to take for granted, but it was very much an outgrowth of the chaos that happened in the 16th and early 17th centuries when the old paradigm of the Holy Roman Empire collapsed, along with the schism in the Catholic Church. This led to a number of chaotic situations, including the horrible 30-years war, and it was only out of that that the nation state evolved. It was formally established in 1648 by the Treaty of Westphalia, but the reason I mention that is that this approach that I have just outlined helps us to understand it better. Historians have noticed without understanding how it is that up until the end of the 30-years war people were totally preoccupied with issues of religion, of whether their version of Protestantism or Catholicism was right, and they were basically going around killing each other because this was the most fundamental thing for them. This was how they would fill up their sense of lack. And that disappears almost overnight beginning with the nation state as a totally new mentality because the nation state becomes a kind of substitute religion. And that?s when absolute kings arise because they are serving a secular role, and yet in a way they are the equivalents of the pope, they are providing that kind of spiritual grounding. Not very well. Eventually they are gotten rid of, but by that time what has evolved is the state as we know it today, so I think the state, as well, has spiritual roots, and we can?t understand its control over us until we understand that the kind of commitment that people have made to it was originally religiously motivated, that it offered them a kind of security that ostensible religion no longer did.

But in general, I am still thinking, still struggling, like so many other people, trying to understand what is the relation between the Christian path, between the Christian mystical path, especially, and the Buddhist enlightenment path? I think this is something that all of us are struggling with, and all of us are offering different understandings, different ways to approach it. Some people tend to think of them as obviously very similar in what they are working toward. Other people, just as obviously, think that they are doing something very different. It is still something we are going to be working on for a long time, probably generations. One thing that does occur to me, though, something I have been tossing through my mind for a long time, back and forth, is thinking about whether they are, in fact, operating on different functions, or different aspects of our being. If this is the case, it is not just that we are contrasting Christianity and Buddhism, but rather, that both of them, and all of the other great religions, as well, I think, contain both. I think Buddhism contains a more devotional aspect, just as Christianity contains a more intellectual aspect with people like Meister Eckhart ? mystical aspect I am referring to. But I think that the comparison in bringing together Christianity and Buddhism in dialogue brings out this aspect much more clearly than anything else. In particular, the Buddhist path as we now understand it works on the intellectual part of our selves, the mind. The meditation is working on letting go of thoughts, letting go of feelings and emotions, as a way of deconstructing the self, dereflecting the self, letting it disappear, and that?s why the kinds of nondual experiences that one has as a result of that are talked about in terms of mind, in terms of wisdom, in terms of nondual wisdom, which is prajna. That?s the one side of it.

The other side, the devotional, which is more emphasized in Christianity, I think is working more on the heart level. Again, we find that in Buddhism and other religions, as well, but I think it is very clear, very much emphasized, in Christianity, and therefore we can see what is going on there. But here is the interesting question, I think. If as I now think we have a pretty good sense of how the intellectual process of meditation works to help develop prajna, nondual wisdom, what?s comparable for working on the heart level? What I would now say, what seems to be the case, is that you don?t work in this heart level so much in meditation, although there are meditations that help it, but I think the heart level has to do with developing love, with purifying and extending our love, and the most important way that we work on this is not by sitting, facing the wall, but in community with our friends and families, with our wider circle of community that we help to develop, which provides the opportunity, which provides the place, for this love to be worked out. In the situations that arise in dealing with other people, it allows us to see how the way of love can help us to let go of the kinds of resistances and selfishnesses that normally tend to limit our way of relating to other people. It seems to me that when we really do this sincerely and over a period of time, then what we get is a sense of a community of love. Love is not simply something that is an attribute of me that I am expressing and bouncing back and forth with other people. It is not just a subjective process, but that we start to realize that out of this community of love we are participating in something deeper than us, and then we begin to see that love isn?t something that belongs to me, it is not something that I have or show, but that it is something that I participate in. I think this is what is at its best going on in following the Christian path, and I see this very clearly among a lot of the Christians that really endeavor to live in this way.

Unlike Buddhism, which emphasizes the nondual wisdom, that side of it, the mind side of it, the nondual love is necessarily relational, and therefore necessarily, if we try to understand it, we are not going to understand love in itself without a sense of love of whom for whom. We can understand it in terms of our love of each other, I love you, or I love God, or God loves me. In a sense there is always a sense of relationality to it which helps us to understand why religions that are devotional, that seem to work on this more devotional level, tend to understand the Supreme in a theistic way, as a person rather than as something neutral and nondual in the mental sense."

Perhaps there may be some value to having someone
devote much thought to these values and ethics for
a good four decades or so...

And Zen again, perhaps not...


a Place,

Where David Loy hangs out.
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
David Loy brings up the issue of conscience, which
will be figuring prominently in our future, if there is to be one. Tomorrow's paradigm will have a conscience wedded to prosperity.

I overheard a conversation the other day and this man was speaking about how he volunteered time at his old church and had trouble getting a drink of water from them, but was happy at his new church as they had helped him to get back on his feet with a new job, food, clothing and even an apartment.

I was noting the expressions on the faces of the other eavesdroppers and something was registering
loudly and clearly by the looks of their countenance and the shape of their visage.

The story had a happy ending and the integral holistic solution was found in this particular situation, this individual and this church group. Smiler

In 1960 countries of the North were about twenty times richer than those of the South. In 1990 -- after vast amounts of aid, trade, loans, and catch-up industrialization by the South -- North countries had become fifty times richer. The richest twenty percent of the world's population now have an income about 150 times that of the poorest twenty percent, a gap that continues to grow.2 According to the UN Development Report for 1996, the world's 358 billionaires are wealthier than the combined annual income of countries with 45% of the world's people. As a result, a quarter million children die of malnutrition or infection every week, while hundreds of millions more survive in a limbo of hunger and deteriorating health. . . . Why do we acquiesce in this social injustice? What rationalization allows us to sleep peacefully at night?
"Seven social sins; politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice." ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post

Money (the blood) and economic growth (the body) constitute a defective myth because they can provide no expiation of guilt - in Buddhist terms, no resolution of lack. Our new holy or holies, the true temple of modern humanity, is the stock market, and our rite of worship is communing with the Dow Jones average. In return, we receive the kiss of profits and the promise of more to come, but there is no atonement in this. Of course, insofar as we have lost belief in sin, we no longer see anything to atone for, which means we end up unconsciously atoning in the only way we know how, working hard to acquire all those things that society tells us are important and will make us happy. Then we cannot understand why they do not make us happy, why they do not resolve our sense of lack. The reason can only be that we do not yet have enough. "But the fact is that the human animal is distinctively characterized, as a species and from the start, by the drive to produce a surplus.... There is something in the human psyche which commits man to nonenjoyment, to work." Where are we all going so eagerly? "Having no real aim, acquisitiveness, as Aristotle correctly said, has no limit." Not to anywhere but from something, which is why there can be no end to it as long as that something is our own lack shadow. "Economies, archaic and civilized, are ultimately driven by that flight from death which turns life into death-in-life." [29] Or by that flight from emptiness that makes life empty: by an intuition of nothingness that, when repressed, only deepens my sense that there is something very wrong with me.
Materialism produces alienation. Evangelicalism
attempts to solve this by expiating guilt, but in the end keeps people trapped in a sytemic milieu
which requires ever larger doses of expiation of guilt through service down at the church and more money in the offering plate and more and more mounting demandsfrom Sunday
to Sunday. Is it any wonder that the pastor runs off with the church secretary and or absconds with
the church treasury. Wink


a Place,

With values,

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post

Loy points out that we really don't know much about the institution itself. Perhaps a liberal media may arise at some point in the future to enlighten us,
but for the time being we have a philosophy professor and Zen master called David Loy.


A Buddhist Critique of Transnational Corporations

David Loy

We have given corporations dominion over the sustaining of our lives. They have become sovereign citizens and we have become consumers. They concentrate power and wealth. They design and shape our society and world. They carve our goals and aspirations. They shape our thoughts and our language. They create the images and metaphors of our time, which our children use to define their world and their lives. In other words: what corporations do well, what corporations are designed to be, is the problem.[1]

What is globalisation, and what does it mean for our lives? There is no simple answer to these questions because there is no such "thing" as globalisation. Globalisation is a complex set of interacting developments: economic, political, technological and cultural. This paper attempts to bring a Buddhist perspective to bear on what is probably the main agent of globalisation, on an institution which has more day to day influence on our lives than any other except governments: corporations, especially transnational ones. I propose to think about what corporations are, from a religious, particularly a Buddhist, perspective. Despite their enormous and increasing impact upon all of us, we know surprisingly little about them -- that is, about what they really are and why they function the way they do. In 1995, only 49 of the world's 100 largest economies were nations; the other 51 were corporations. Malaysia was number 53, bigger than Matsu****a (54) but somewhat smaller than IBM (52); Mitsubishi, the largest corporation on the list, was number 22. Total sales of the top 200 transnational corporations were bigger than the combined GDP of 182 countries -- of all except the top nine nations. That is about thirty percent of world GDP. Yet those corporations employed less than one-third of one percent of the world's population, and that percentage is shrinking.[2]

In the United States, the largest 100 corporations buy about 75% of comercial network time and over 50% of public television time as well.[3] This means that they decide what is shown on television and what is not; it has become their "private medium". Corporate mergers and buyouts also mean that the nation's radio stations, newspapers, and publishing houses are owned by a decreasing number of conglomerates increasingly preoccupied with the bottom line of profit margins. In short, corporations control the U.S. "nervous system", and increasingly our international one as well. It is amazing, then, that we hear relatively little about what corporations do -- which seems to be the way they like it. Newspapers and television news are full of the speeches and meetings of government leaders, even as globalisation of the world economy reduces their power to direct their peoples' destiny. The main point of this paper can be summarized very simply: today, thanks to spreading ideals of democracy, states are increasingly responsible to their citizens, but whom are transnational corporations responsible to?

One of our problems today is that, in our preoccupation with present consumption and future possibilities, we tend to lose the past -- that is, our sense of history. If you want to understand something, one of the first places to look is at its history, which can illuminate aspects that we otherwise overlook or misunderstand. . . . So I hope you will indulge me while I present a short history lesson. What does history teach us about corporations and their responsibilities?

Incorporated business enterprises, with legally limited economic liabilities, began in Europe. The earliest record I have found of such a corporation is from Florence, Italy, in 1532. Both the date and place are very interesting. Columbus had "discovered" America in 1492; just as important, Vasco da Gama had sailed around Africa to India in 1498 and returned with cargo worth sixty times the cost of his voyage. A profit of 6000%! You can imagine what effect that had on the dreams of Italian merchants. But there were some problems. First, it was extremely expensive to outfit such an expedition, so very few people could afford to do so by themselves. Second, such voyages were extremely risky; the chance of a ship sinking in a storm or being taken by pirates was considerable. And third, there were debtor's prisons -- not only for you but for your family and your descendants -- if you lost your ship and could not pay your debts.

The solution to these problems was ingenious: legally limited liability. Unlike partnerships, where each partner is legally responsible for all business debts, limited liability meant you could lose only the amount you invested. Such an arrangement required a special charter from the state -- in Renaissance Italy, from the local prince. This was convenient not only for the investors but for the prince, because a successful expedition increased the wealth of his territory -- and because he got a big cut of the profits for granting the charter.

What is the relevance of all that now? It shows us, first, that from the very beginning corporations have been involved in colonialism and colonial exploitation -- a process which continues today under a "neo-colonial" economic system that continues to transfer wealth from the South to the North. Although they have plenty of help from the World Bank and the IMF, corporations continue to be the main institutions that supervise that process.

Second, it shows us that from the very beginning corporations have also had an incestous relationship with the state. In the sixteenth century nation-states as we know them did not exist. Rulers generally were too limited in resources to exercise the kind of sovereignty that we take for granted today. The state as we know it today -- politically self-enclosed and self-aggrandizing -- developed along with the royally-chartered corporation; you might even say they were Siamese twins inescapably joined together. The enormous wealth extracted from the New World, in particular, enabled states to become more powerful and ambitious, and rulers assisted the process by dispatching armies and navies to "pacify" foreign lands. As this suggests, there was a third partner, which grew up with the other two: the modern military. Together they formed an "unholy trinity", thanks to the new technologies of gunpowder, the compass (for navigation), and this clever new type of business organization which minimized the financial risk. In short, the modern nation-state and its military grew by feeding on colonial exploitation, in the same way that chartered corporations did.[4]

This incest needs to be emphasized because we tend to forget it. We distinguish between government and the economy, but at their upper levels there is usually little effective distinction between them. Today governments still get their royal share of the booty -- now it's called taxes. On the one side, states today need to promote corporate business because they have become pimps dependent upon that source of revenue; on the other side, transnational corporations thrive on the special laws and arrangements with which states promote their activities.

This brings us back to the question of corporate responsibility. A royal charter listed a corporation's privileges and responsibilities. It has been said that the history of corporations since then is a history of their attempts to increase their privileges and reduce their responsibilities. One important step in reducing that responsibility was the introduction of the joint stock company; the first English one was chartered in 1553.

Compare the situation of a smaller, locally-owned business. Suppose you are a master carpenter living in 16th-century Italy. If business is good you might employ several other carpenters and apprentices. You may treat them badly -- long hours, low wages -- but it will be difficult to escape all the consequences of that. You and your family live above the workshop, or around the corner; your wife sees the wives of your senior workers, may socialize with them; your children probably play with their children, perhaps take lessons from the same teachers. You worship in the same church, participate in the same festivals. My point is that in such a situation economic responsibility is local and not so easily evaded. Everyone in the town knows how you treat your workers, and that affects your reputation -- what other people think about you and how they respond to you.

It is already evident that there is an parallel here with human beings. Our physical bodies are also dissipative systems that absorb energy (from food) and use it for physical and mental activities. And from a Buddhist perspective this parallel is even deeper, for in one important respect we humans too are fictions according to the Buddhist teaching of anatman, "non-self". Buddhism teaches that our sense of self is a delusion -- what might now be called a "construction" -- because the feeling that there is a "me" apart from the world is mistaken; our sense of "I" is an effect of interacting physical and mental processes that are part of the world. Although counter-intuitive and difficult to understand, this teaching of anatman is essential to all schools of Buddhism, and enlightenment includes the realization that "my" self is "empty", for "I" am a manifestation of the world.

This similarity between corporations and people -- both being "empty" dissipative systems that nonetheless have a life of their own -- raises the question whether corporations are subject to the same type of problems. According to Buddhism, the primary cause of our human problems is greed; sometimes ignorance is mentioned as well. Is this also the problem of corporations? It is the nature (or natural tendency) of our minds never to be satisfied with what we have, but always to want more. The tendency of corporations to grow and seek ever greater profits simplies a similar problem. When we consider the Buddhist solution to this problem, however, we realize the vast difference between corporations and us.

The difference is that corporations are legal fictions. Their "body" is a judicial concept -- and that is why they are so dangerous, because without a body they are essentially ungrounded to the earth and its creatures, to the pleasures and responsibilities that derive from being manifestations of the earth. You may prefer to say that corporations are unable to be spiritual, for they lack a soul; but I think it amounts to the same thing. As the example of Bhopal shows, a corporation is unable to feel sorry for what it has done (it may occasionally apologize, but that is public relations, not sorrow). A corporation cannot laugh or cry; it can't enjoy the world or suffer with it. Most of all, a corporation cannot love. Love is realizing our interconnectedness with others and living our concern for their well-being. Such love is not an emotion but an engagement with others that includes responsibility for them, a responsibility that if genuine transcends our own selfish interests. If that sense of responsibility is not there, the love is not genuine. Corporations cannot experience such love or live according to it, not only because they are immaterial but because of their primary responsibility to the shareholders who own them. A CEO who tries to subordinate his company's profitability to his love for the world will lose his position, for he is not fulfilling that financial responsibility to its shareholders.

To make the same point in a more Buddhist way: despite the talk we occasionally hear about "enlightened" corporations, a corporation cannot become enlightened in the spiritual sense. Buddhist enlightenment includes realizing that my sense of being a self apart from the world is a delusion that causes suffering for me and the world. To realize that I am the world -- that I am one of the many ways the world manifests -- is the cognitive side of the love that such a person feels for the world and all its creatures; that realization and that love are two sides of the same coin. Legal fictions such as corporations cannot experience this any more than computers can.

That sums up us the tragedy of economic globalisation today: increasingly, the destiny of the earth is in the hands of impersonal institutions which, because of the way they are structured, are motivated not by concern for the well-being of the earth's inhabitants but by desire for their own growth and profit. "We are calling upon [those who wield corporate] power and property, as mankind called upon kings of their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling in vain. We are asking them not to be what we have made them to be."[8] It is intrinsic to the nature of corporations that they cannot be responsible in the ways that we need them to be; the impersonal way they are owned and organized guarantees that such responsibility is so diluted and diffused that, ultimately, it tends to disappear.

One might argue, in reply, that there are good corporations which take good care of their employees, are concerned about their products and their effect on the environment, etc. The same argument can be made for slavery: there were some good slaveowners who took good care of their slaves, etc. This does not refute the fact that the institution of slavery is intolerable. The analogy is not too strong. "It is intolerable that the most important issues about human livelihood will be decided solely on the basis of profit for transnational corporations."[9] And it is just as intolerable that the earth's limited resources are being allocated primarily on the basis of profit for transnational corporations.

My Buddhist conclusion is that transnational corporations are by their very nature problematical. We cannot solve the problems they create by addressing the conduct of this or that particular corporation; it's the institution that's the problem. I do not see how, given their present structure, we can repair them to make them more compassionate. So we need to consider whether it is possible to reform them in some fundamental way or whether we need to replace them with better economic and political institutions -- better because they are responsible not to anonymous investers but to the communities they function in, better because are motivated not by profit but by service to the earth and the beings who dwell on it. As long as corporations remain the primary instruments of economic globalisation, they endanger the future of our children and the world they will live in.

1.Richard Grossman, "Revoking the Corporation", Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation (1996) vol. 11, p. 143.
2. "Corporate Empires", Multinational Monitor 17 no. 12 (December 1996). The information is from Forbes Magazine and the World Bank's World Development Report for 1996.
3. Jerry Mander, "Corporations as Machines", in Jonathan Greenberg and William Kistler, ed., Buying America Back (Council Oak Books, 1992), p. 295.
4. The United States was born of a revolt against corporations, which had been used as instruments of abusive power by British kings. The new republic was deeply suspicious of both government and corporate power. Corporations were chartered by the states, not the federal government (the U.S. Constitution does not mention them), so they could be kept under close local scrutiny. The length of corporate charters was limited, and they were automatically dissolved if not renewed, or if corporations engaged in activities outside their charter. By 1800 there were only about 200 corporate charters in the U.S. The next century was a period of great struggle between corporations and civil society. The turning point was the Civil War (1861-65). With huge profits from procurement contracts, corporations were able to take advantage of the disorder and corruption of the times to buy legislatures, judges, and even presidents. Lincoln complained shortly before his death: "Corporations have been enthroned. . . . An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people...until wealth is aggregated in a few hands ... and the republic is destroyed". -Rutherford Hayes

A Place,

For philosophy

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post

In another thoughtful piece for Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Loy outlines the inherent contradictions
between belief and aspiration and the reality of globalization. It's about greed and after backing every imperialist dream which has come down the pike
for the last fifteen hundred years, if we give Augustine a pass, perhaps the Christian "sangha" might wish take another look at it, and benefit themselves as well as future generations.


Shall We Pave the Planet, or Learn To Wear Shoes?
A Buddhist Perspective on Greed and Globalization

By David R. Loy

Buddhism is known as the Middle Way. Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, renounced a privileged life of pleasure and leisure for the arduous life of a forest dweller, but his severe ascetic practices did not lead to the enlightenment he sought. The middle way he discovered does not simply split the difference between sense-enjoyment and sense-denial. It focuses on calming and understanding the mind, for such insight is what can liberate us from our usual preoccupation with trying to become happy by satisfying our cravings. The goal is not to eliminate all desires, but to experience them in an non-attached way, so we are not controlled by them. Contrary to the stereotype of Buddhism as a world-denying religion, that does not necessarily involve transcending this world in order to experience some other one. It means attaining a wisdom that realizes the true nature of this world, including the true nature of oneself.1

These concerns are reflected in the Buddhist attitude toward wealth and poverty:

To know the dhamma, to see things truly, is to recognize the self as a conditioned, temporal reality and to reject self-indulgent cravings as harmful illusions. Thus, a non-attached orientation toward life does not require a flat renunciation of all material possessions. Rather, it specifies an attitude to be cultivated and expressed in whatever material condition one finds oneself. To be non-attached is to possess and use material things but not to be possessed or used by them. Therefore, the idea of non-attachment applies all across Buddhist society, to laymen and monk alike.2

The main issue is not how poor or wealthy we are, but how we respond to our situation. The wisdom that develops naturally from non-attachment is knowing how to be content with what we have. Santutthi paramam dhanam, "the greatest wealth is contentment" (Dhammapada verse 204).

This does not mean that Buddhism encourages poverty or denigrates wealth. As Shakyamuni Buddha emphasized many times, the goal of the Buddhist path is to end our dukkha (often translated as "suffering" but better understood as "ill-being" or "unhappiness"). He summarized his teachings into four noble (or ennobling) truths: life is dukkha. The cause of dukkha is craving (tanha). There is an end to dukkha (nirvana). The way to end dukkha is to follow the eightfold path (magga). None of these truths involves recommending poverty, for poverty is a source of unhappiness in itself and also makes it more difficult to follow a spiritual path.3 In the Anguttara Nikaya, for example, the Buddha says that poverty (daliddiya) is miserable, because it leads (among other things) to borrowing, mounting debts and ever-increasing suffering (III, 350-352).

Sakyamuni also said that there are three types of people in the world. Some are blind in both eyes, because they know neither how to be successful in the world nor how to live a virtuous life; some are blind in one eye, because they know how to pursue worldly success but do not know how to live virtuously; and a few are blind in neither eye, because they know how to do both (Anguttara Nikaya I, 128). As this implies, Buddhism recommends neither material nor spiritual (orthe main causes of our dukkha. It involves much anxiety but very little real satisfaction.

Instead, the Buddha praised those who renounce all psychological attachment to material things in favor of a life devoted wholeheartedly to the path of liberation, by joining the sangha community of bhikkhu monks and bhikkhuni nuns. The material needs of such renunciates are known as the four requisites: food sufficient to alleviate hunger and maintain one's health, clothing sufficient to be socially decent and to protect the body, shelter sufficient for cultivating the mind, and health care sufficient to cure and prevent disease. Needless to say, this is hardly a recommendation of wealth. In fact, today these four requisites could be used as a benchmark for measuring the level of subsistence below which people should not be allowed to fall.

On the other side, however, and despite all the cautions above about not being attached to riches, Buddhism does not claim that wealth is in itself an obstacle to following the Buddhist path. The five basic precepts that all Buddhists are expected to follow -- to avoid killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxicating drugs mention nothing about abstaining from wealth or property, although they do imply much about how we should pursue them. The value of money cannot be compared with the supreme goal of enlightenment, yet properly acquired wealth has traditionally been seen as a sign of virtue, and properly used wealth can be a boon for everyone. Wealth creates greater opportunities to benefit people, and to cultivate non-attachment by developing one's generosity.

The problem with wealth, then, is not its possession but its abuse. The wise realize that wealth is not a goal in itself but can be a valuable means for reducing dukkha and promoting spiritual advancement. "Wealth destroys the foolish, though not those who search for the Goal" (Dhammapada 355). In short, what is blameworthy is to earn wealth improperly, to become attached to it and not to spend it for the well-being of everyone, instead squandering it foolishly or using it to cause suffering to others.4 Right livelihood, the fifth part of the eightfold path, emphasizes that our work should not harm other living beings and specifically prohibits trading in weapons, poisons, intoxicants, or slaves.

That wealth can indicate virtue follows from the Buddhist belief in karma and rebirth. If karma is an exceptionless law of the universe, what happens to us later (either in this life or in a future lifetime) is a result of what we have done in the past and are doing now. This makes wealth a consequence of previous generosity, and poverty a result of misbehavior (most likely avarice or seeking wealth in an immoral way). Not all contemporary Buddhists accept that karma is so inexorable, or understand it so literally, but this traditional belief implies our personal responsibility for whatever happens to us and (in the long run, at least) complete harmony between our morality and our prosperity. Today the effects of economic globalization and a concern for social justice cast a somewhat different light on this issue, and it is one that we shall return to later.

Buddhist Economics

Everything mentioned above concerns attitudes that we as individuals should cultivate or avoid. What do they imply about how society as a whole should be organized? What kind of economic system is compatible with Buddhist teachings? Buddhism, like Christianity, lacks an intrinsic social theory. The Buddha never taught specifically about economics in the sense that we understand it now. This means that we cannot look to traditional Buddhist texts for specific answers to the economic issues that concern us today. However, some Pali sutras do have significant social implications. Perhaps the most important is the Lion's Roar Sutra (Cakkavatti-sihanada Sutra), which shows how poverty can lead to social deterioration.

In this sutra the Buddha tells the story of a monarch in the distant past who initially respected and relied upon the Buddhist teachings, doing as his sage advised: "Let no crime prevail in your kingdom, and to those who are in need, give property." Later, however, he began to rule according to his own ideas and did not give property to the needy. As a result, poverty became widespread. Due to poverty one man took what was not given [i.e., stole] and was arrested. When the king asked him why he stole, the man said he had nothing to live on. So the king gave him enough property to carry on a business and support his family.

Exactly the same thing happened to another man, and when other people heard about this they too decided to steal so they would be treated in a similar way. This made the king realize that if he continued to give property to thieves, theft would continue to increase. So he decided to get tough on the next one: "I had better make an end of him, finish him off once for all, and cut his head off." And he did.

At this point in the story we might expect a parable about the importance of deterring crime, but it turns in exactly the opposite direction:

Hearing about this, people thought: "Now let us get sharp swords made for us, and then we can take from anybody what is not given, we will make an end of them, finish them off once and for all and cut off their heads." So, having procured some sharp swords, they launched murderous assaults on villages, towns and cities, and went in for highway-robbery, killing their victims by cutting off their heads.
Thus, from the not giving of property to the needy, poverty became widespread, from the growth of poverty, the taking of what was not given increased, from the increase of theft, the use of weapons increased, from the increased use of weapons, the taking of life increased . . . (Digha-Nikaya III, 65 ff.)5

The long-term result was degradation of life and social collapse.

Despite some fanciful elements, this myth has clear economic implications. Poverty is presented as a root cause of immoral behavior such as theft and violence. Unlike what we might expect from a supposedly world-denying religion, the Buddhist solution to such deprivation is not accepting one's "poverty karma." The problem begins when the king neglects his responsibility to give property to those who need it. This influential sutra implies that social breakdown cannot be separated from broader questions about the benevolence of the social order. The solution to poverty-induced crime is not more severe punishment but helping people provide for their basic needs.

However, notice also what the sutra does not say. Today we usually evaluate such situations by talking about the need for "social justice" and the state's role in "distributive justice." This emphasis on social justice, so central in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), is not important in traditional Buddhism. As the above story indicates, this does not mean that Buddhism is insensitive to the problem of poverty. But emphasis on karma implies a different way of understanding and addressing that social problem. The traditional Buddhist solution is dana "giving" or generosity.

Dana is the most important concept in Buddhist thinking about society and economics, because it is the main way our non-attachment is cultivated and demonstrated. We are called upon to show compassion and help those who need it. The doctrine of karma implies that such unfortunates are reaping the fruit of their previous deeds, but this is not understood in a punitive way, and the importance of generosity for those walking the Buddhist path does not permit us to be indifferent to their misfortune. We are expected, even spiritually required, to lend what assistance we can to them. The appeal is not to justice for a victim of circumstances. Instead, it is the morality and spiritual progress of the giver that is the issue. In the language of contemporary ethical theory, this is a "virtue ethics." It offers a different perspective that cuts through the usual political opposition between conservative (right) and liberal (left) economic views. According to Buddhism, no one can evade responsibility for one's own deeds and efforts, but generosity is not merely optional: we have a spiritual obligation to respond compassionately to those in need. The king started the social breakdown when he did not.

Does this emphasis on dana offer a viable alternative to contemporary Western discourse about social justice? However valuable individual generosity may be as a personal trait, it is difficult to see how that by itself could be an adequate response to the widespread social problems being created by rapid economic globalization. It is also difficult for many Buddhists today to accept that the increasing poverty apparently caused by impersonal economic developments is really just an effect of individual bad karma created in previous lifetimes. The concept of social justice may not be original to Buddhism but it is not incompatible with Buddhist teachings, and some socially engaged Buddhists are attempting to incorporate it.

In modern times, the social consequences of dana in most Asian Buddhist countries have become somewhat limited, because the popular emphasis has been on "making merit" by supporting the sangha, which has been dependent on that support (bhikkhu and bhikkhuni are not allowed to work for money). Karma is often understood in a commodified way, as something that can be accumulated by dana-giving, and the amount of merit gained is believed to depend upon the worthiness of the recipient. Since members of the Buddhist sangha are viewed as the most worthy recipients, one receives more merit from donating food to a well-fed bhikkhu than to a poor and hungry layperson.

This preoccupation with accumulating merit (usually for a better rebirth) may be incompatible with the Buddhist emphasis on non-attachment, and seems to encourage a "spiritual materialism" ultimately at odds with the highest goal of spiritual liberation. The benefits of this support rebound on the rest of society, since the sangha is primarily responsible for practicing and propagating the teachings of Buddhism. Nevertheless, I wonder if the present economic relationship between sangha and laypeople should be re-examined. Rural Thailand, for example, needs new hospitals and clinics more than it needs new temples. According to the popular view, however, a wealthy person gains more merit by funding the construction of a temple whether or not one is needed in that area! Such a narrow but commonplace understanding of dana as merit-making has worked well to provide for sangha needs, but this cannot be an adequate spiritual response to the challenges provided by globalization.

One possible Buddhist alternative, or supplement, is the bodhisattva ideal emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism. The bodhisattva is a spiritually-advanced person wholly devoted to responding to the needs of all beings, not just those of the sangha. A bodhisattva's entire life is dana, not as a way to accumulate merit but because of the bodhisattva's insight that he or she is not separate from others. According to the usual understanding, a bodhisattva does not follow the eightfold path but a slightly different version that emphasizes perfecting six virtues: dana generosity, sila morality, ksanti patience, virya vigor, dhyana meditation and prajna wisdom. The most important virtue is believed to be dana, since that implies all the others.

Of course, such a religious model is not easily institutionalized. Yet that is not the main point. Today dana cannot substitute for social justice, but there is also no substitute for the social practice of dana as a fundamental aspect of any healthy society. When those who have much feel no responsibility for those who have noting, a social crisis is inevitable.

A Buddhist View of Globalization

The above reflections on dana and merit-making bring us to the larger issue of a Buddhist perspective on the economic globalization. We have already noticed that traditional Buddhist teachings do not include a developed social theory but do have many important social implications. Those implications can be developed to analyze and understand the new world order.

The first thing to be noticed is also perhaps the most important: as the parable of the unwise king shows, Buddhism does not separate economic issues from ethical or spiritual ones. The notion that economics is a "social science" discovering and applying impersonal economic laws obscures two important truths. First, who gets what, and who does not, always has moral dimensions, so production and distribution of economic goods and services should not be left only to the supposedly objective rules of the marketplace. If some people have much more than they need, and others have much less, some sort of redistribution is necessary. Dana is the traditional Buddhist way of redistributing.

Much of the philosophical reflection on economics has focused on questions about human nature. Those who defend market capitalism argue that its emphasis on competition and personal gain is grounded in the fact that humans are fundamentally self-centered and self-interested. Critics of capitalism argue that our basic nature is more cooperative and generous that is, we are naturally more selfless.

What are our unwholesome characteristics? They are usually summarized as the "three poisons" or three roots of evil: lobha greed, dosa ill-will and moha delusion.7 The goal of the Buddhist way of life is to eliminate these roots by transforming them into their positive counterparts: greed into generosity (dana), ill-will into loving-kindness (metta), and delusion into wisdom (prajna). If collective economic values should not be separated from personal moral values, the important issue becomes: which traits does our globalizing economic system encourage?

Greed is an unpopular word both in corporate boardrooms and in economic theory. Economists talk about demand, but their concern to be objective and value-neutral does not allow them to evaluate different types of demand. From a Buddhist perspective, however, our capitalist system promotes and even requires greed in two ways. The "engine" of the economic process is the desire for continual profits, and in order to keep making those profits people must keep wanting to consume more.

While this growth has given us opportunities that our grandparents never dreamed of, we have also become more sensitive to the negative consequences: its staggering ecological impact, and the worsening mal-distribution of this wealth. A child in the developed countries consumes and pollutes 30 to 50 times as much as a poor one in an undeveloped country, according to the same UNHDR. Today 1.2 billion people survive on less than a dollar a day, and almost half the world's population live on less than two dollars a day. The 20% of people in the richest countries enjoy 86% of the world's consumption, the poorest 20% only 1.3% -- a gap that globalization is increasing, not decreasing.

Clearly something is very wrong with this new world order. But these grim facts about "their" dukkha should not keep us from noticing the consequences for "our own" dukkha. The problem is not merely how to share the wealth. How much does our economic system promote individual dukkha by encouraging us to be greedy? And how much does our pooled greed promote collective dukkha, by contributing to the recurrent social crises now afflicting almost all the "developed" nations?

From a Buddhist perspective, the fundamental problem with consumerism is the delusion that genuine happiness can be found this way. If insatiable desires (tanha) are the source of the frustration (dukkha) that we experience in our daily lives, then such consumption, which distracts us and intoxicates us, is not the solution to our unhappiness but one of its main symptoms. That brings us to the final irony of this addiction to consumption: also according to the 1999 UNHDR, the percentage of Americans who considered themselves happy peaked in 1957, despite the fact that consumption per person has more than doubled since then. At the same time, studies of U.S. households have found that between 1986 and 1994 the amount of money people think they need to live happily has doubled! That seems paradoxical, but it is not difficult to explain: when we define ourselves as consumers, we can never have enough. For reasons we never quite understand, consumerism never really gives us what we want from it; it works by keeping us thinking that the next thing we buy will satisfy us.

Higher incomes have certainly enabled many people to become more generous, but this has not been their main effect, because capitalism is based upon a very different principle: that capital should be used to create more capital. Rather than redistributing our wealth, we prefer to invest that wealth as a means to accumulate more and spend more, regardless of whether or not we need more. In fact, the question of whether or not we really need more has become rather quaint; you can never be too rich.

This way of thinking has become natural for us, but it is uncommon in societies where advertising has not yet conditioned people into believing that happiness is something you purchase.

All this is expressed better in a Tibetan Buddhist analogy. The world is full of thorns and sharp stones (and now broken glass too). What should we do about this? One solution is to pave over the entire earth, but a simpler alternative is to wear shoes. "Paving the whole planet" is a good metaphor for how our collective technological and economic project is attempting to make us happy. Without the wisdom of self-limitation, we will not be satisfied even when we have used up all the earth's resources. The other solution is for our minds to learn how to "wear shoes," so that our collective ends become an expression of the renewable means that the biosphere provides.

Ill-will. Conventional economic theory assumes that resources are limited but our desires are infinitely expandable. Without self-limitation, this becomes a formula for strife. As we know, desire frustrated is a major cause perhaps the major cause -- of ill will. The Buddha warned against negative feelings such as envy (issa) and avarice (macchariya).11 Issa becomes intense when certain possessions are enjoyed by one section of society while another section does not have the opportunity to acquire them. Macchariya is the selfish enjoyment of goods while greedily guarding them from others. A society in which these psychological tendencies predominate may be materially wealthy but it is spiritually poor.

The most important point, from a Buddhist point of view, is that our economic emphasis on competition and individual gain my benefit is your loss encourages the development of ill will rather than loving-kindness. A society where people do not feel that they benefit from sharing with each other is a society that has already begun to break down.

Delusion. For its proponents, the globalization of market capitalism is a victory for "free trade" over the inefficiencies of protectionism and special interests. Free trade seems to realize in the economic sphere the supreme value that we place on freedom. It optimizes access to resources and markets. What could be wrong with that?

Quite a bit, if we view "free trade" from the rather different perspective provided by Buddhism. Such a different viewpoint helps us to see presuppositions usually taken for granted. The Buddhist critique of a value-free economics suggests that globalizing capitalism is neither natural (as economists, eager to be scientific, would have us believe) nor inevitable;

From a religious perspective, an alternative way to describe this process is that the world and its beings (including us) became de-sacralized. When things become treated as commodities they lose their spiritual dimension. Today we see biotechnology doing this to the genetic code of life; soon our awe at the mysteries of reproduction will be replaced by the ultimate shopping experience . The developed world is now largely de-sacralized, but this social and economic transformation is far from finished. That is why the IMF and the World Trade Organization have become so important. Their role is to ensure that nothing stands in the way of converting the rest of the earth -- the "undeveloped world," to use our revealing term for it -- into resources and markets.

This commodified understanding presupposes a sharp duality between humans and the rest of the earth.


Buddhism began with the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. His "awakening" (the literal meaning of "Buddha") shows us the possibility of a different way of life, based on a different way of understanding the relationship between ourselves and the world. From a materialistic perspective, including the "social science" of economics, such religious responses are superstitious and escapist. From a Buddhist perspective, however, economic growth and consumerism are unsatisfactory alternatives because they evade the basic problem of life by distracting us with symbolic substitutes such as money, status, and power. Similar critiques of idolatry are found in all the great religions, and rampant economic globalization makes that message all the more important today.13

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Originally posted by spoonboy:
Loy wrote: The Buddhist doctrine of no-self implies that our fundamental repression is not sex (as Freud thought), nor even death (as existential psychologists think), but the intuition that the ego-self does not exist, that our self consciousness is a mental construction.

So, then, who/what wrote that? Wink


Michael, unless you have permission to quote entire articles, it's best that you just link to them and quote excerpts. Please edit some of your posts above.

Thanks. Phil
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
David Loy writes about a wide variety of social and spiritual issues involving everyday life. I hope to get around to all fifty or so of these very refreshing essays:
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Michael, please note my post above about quoting articles. Thanks.
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post

I trimmed them down some, and am aware of your concerns. Apologies and thanks to you! Smiler

I asked a hot dog vendor the other day if he had
heard the one about the Buddhist who asked the hot dog vendor to "make him one with everything." Wink

I don't know why, but that one always makes me giggle.

I had this adventure with holistic consciousness
yesterday, and it might make Roshi Loy proud. About seventeen blocks North of my location is a wondeful place, the Denver Zen Center. On September 9th, 2007, Roshi Danan Henry gave a Darma talk:


Listening to this 45 minute talk, I was especially struck by the mention of his master and teacher,
Robert Baker Aitken, who he said was always very careful to observe the precept of not speaking of the faults of others, actually referred to the neocenservative leaders as "a cadre of murderers."

Also reading some essays by Aitken, an influence on Loy and many others, written in 1993 and referencing the mystical anarchism of Mauthner and Landauer, which reminds me of Merton's fondness for Russian mystical anarchists like Berdayev.
Merton had this realization of being a "Guilty Bystander." It's the ones who believe they act for God who cause a great deal of trouble historically.

Holistically speaking, I must admit to being a part of said "cadre of murderers" since I voted for them twice, and participate and enable such goings on, sadly and truly enough. Sackcloth and ashes all the way from here to eternity, until I learn...


A Place,

of repentance,

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
One thing I have spinning around in my muddled little spoonboy head are the ideas of a couple of philosophy professors, who, like David Loy, look toward both Western Philosophy and the Buddhist, Sufi and Native American spiritual paths for guidance and undertanding of the effects of the dominant paradigm on the people who must live out their lives with the consequences of that paradigm.

How do the past president of the Institute for Noetic Sciences and a top motivational guru view this work?

This is an excellent and eminently readable book. The metaphoric comparison between addiction and cultural belief systems is powerful. The book raises the critical question for our time: Can you have healthy persons in an unhealthy system -- a system based on an essentially unhealthy paradigm? It argues, successfully, that the paradigm which creates addiction can't also heal it; in other words, there is no solution for our social ills short of fundamental whole-system change. The first step is to face our taboos and our toxic patterns with honesty and integrity. The book is a powerful wake-up call.
--Willis Harman, former president, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sausalito, California
Without question, the addictive paradigms that bind us to society (and often to each other) also hinder our growth as free-thinking individuals. This deeply researched book not only exposes these addictive systems, but provides a new vision of recovery by insisting that we change the lenses through which we see our world. It then becomes the compass rather than the rigid road map by which we lead our lives -- thus enabling us to break with the traditionally binding patterns of today.
--Steven Covey, founder and chairman of the Covey Leadership Center and author of the number one best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

From the book:

Caught in deadly processes. Recovery: it?s not just for addicts anymore. It's not even just for persons, not when addictive processes permeate every social system we've got, from schools to churches to workplaces to governments. We're up to our ears in addict-making processes, and we can't take two steps out of bed without running into them.
Are we addicted to a destructive paradigm?

Another quote:

Get rid of the troublemakers. For fear of chaos, social systems adopt the control paradigm and run with it. Through all sorts of institutionalized policies, we get the message that we're unacceptable as we are, but that if we surrender ourselves to the social system (the family, school, business, profession, or religion), we'll become acceptable. Our souls are sloppy and unmanageable troublemakers; they clog the system's efficient workings, and we're better off without them.
Why do people resist? Why do they call me spoonhead or whatever? Why the kneejerk responses
in defense of the paradigm? I can post the warning signs over and over again for several years here at shalom place and they cannot yet be seen. Why?

What is a paradigm?

Paradigm: The word "paradigm" was originally one of those obscure academic terms that has undergone many changes of meaning over the centuries. The classical Greeks used it to refer to an original archetype or ideal. Later it came to refer to a grammatical term. In the early 1960s Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) wrote a ground breaking book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he showed that science does not progress in an orderly fashion from lesser to greater truth, but rather remains fixated on a particular dogma or explanation - a paradigm - which is only overthrown with great difficulty and a new paradigm established. Thus the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe) overthrew the Ptolemaic (the earth at the center) one, and Newtonian physics was replaced by Relativity and Quantum Physics. Science thus consists of periods of conservativism ("Normal" Science) punctuated by periods of "Revolutionary" Science.
What is a paradigm shift?
Paradigm Shift : When anomalies or inconsistencies arise within a given paradigm and present problems that we are unable to solve within a given paradigm, our view of reality must change, as must the way we perceive, think, and value the world. We must take on new assumptions and expectations that will transform our theories, traditions, rules, and standards of practice. We must create a new paradigm in which we are able to solve the unsolvable problems of the old paradigm.
What is paradigm addiction?

Paradigm Addiction : What occurs when a paradigm and its most ardent supporters are addicted to the paradigm to the point where they lose the realization that they are even in a paradigm at all? Ardent paradigm supporters have equated paradigm survival with their own personal survival, and will manipulate and control a society in order to prevent any social or cultural advancement out of the existing paradigm, ignoring or suppressing public knowledge of anomalies, equating perception of anomalies to "personal abnormality" in order to intimidate populations to remain within the status quo control paradigm. Addiction to a paradigm results in either paradigm death or death of those who maintain the paradigm.
What are "biomind superpowers"? Who are Denise Bretton and Christopher Largent?

NOTE OF INTRODUCTION. Denise Breton and Chris Largent, a husband-wife team, have been teaching and writing together for twenty years. They each have backgrounds in religion and philosophy (Chris from Dickinson College and the University of Delaware; Denise from Boston University, the University of Delaware, and Yale University.)

They have taught half-time in the University of Delaware's Philosophy Department for over twenty years, and have lectured widely, for example, at the Second Global Structures Convention, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, the World Business Academy, and at the School for Practical Philosophy. Their international work includes seminars in Canada and England on how to interpret sacred texts.

They offer their own public-forum programs, which focus on overcoming the split between the spiritual and the practical, a focus they bring to their counseling work as well. Their programs have spanned work in mythology, near-death experiences, inner journeying, intuition, meditation, and the relationship between business and spirituality.

Why do I go on and on about it? John McCain says it's mostly mentally ill people who bring up Lawrence Britt's 14 warning signs of fascism and Naomi Wolf's Letter to a Young Patriot decribing the ten steps to closing an open society and alot of people feel that George Soros' The Open Society
and it's Enemies is just pure paranoid bunk. Ok, so perhaps spoonboy is unbalanced. Native Americans viewed such persons as holy, and I'm ok with that. Wink


a place,

where paradigm shifts are possible,

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
The Twelve Cycles of Truth as practiced by Deginawidah are

1) learning the truth

2) honoring the truth

3) accepting the truth

4) observing the truth

5) hearing the truth

6) presenting the truth

7) loving the truth

8) serving the truth

9) living the truth

10) working the truth

11) walking the truth

12) being grateful fo the truth

Gandhi was also an Indian, and it seems that he managed to pull it off a fair per-centage of the time.
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
David Loy, from the Jim Arraj interview:

Perhaps I should say something about the koan process. I think that honestly it had a different effect on me, or I had a different relationship with koans than most of the people there, and in general, I wouldn't say that they work as well for me as they did for many of the other people, or that I feel that that is an important part of my path, which is an odd thing to say having been through them, but the process of zazen has been much more powerful and transformative in my own life. I suppose, if I was going to generalize, I would say that there is a little danger in the koan process, unless it is very carefully done, indeed, that passing koans can become a substitute in and of itself of a kind of personal transformation that is necessary, I think, in order for us to embody the Zen way. For myself, well, I could see that there is a temptation to do this koan, to pass the koans, to do the whole koan process, by learning a particular kind of vocabulary, and learning how to plug that vocabulary into the koans, in which case the process of personal development of the real sort, the kind of letting go and nondual transformation as I see it now is replaced by learning a new kind of language, learning how to manipulate a new set of concepts. I still feel a bit wary about this. I am not so sure I have found an answer to it, either personally or in terms of how one would teach other people. Maybe all this is saying that the process is a much more delicate and problematical one than I first realized, or realized for a long time as I was going through it. Perhaps that's one reason why I haven't become a Zen sensei, myself. I have the official name, but I haven't wanted to teach because I haven't seen, myself, an answer. I haven't really been completely comfortable with the koan process as it was taught to me, which I admit is probably a much greater statement about me than anything else. But I haven't found an alternative, or the way I would be completely comfortable with, myself. It is also true, of course, that as long as I am living in Kamakura there is absolutely no reason or need to do any of that kind of teaching.
Koans aren't everyone's way of arriving at the source. Hoan Jiyu-Kennett is from the gradual enlightenment school, and scarcely mentions koans at all. Personally, my experience was that I caught transrationality from reading scripture and from prayer.

I think that Koans are especially for the intellectual type, with too much learning and a "hardening of the categories." For myself, that's living in a Dewey Decimal System world where everything has a name and a label and a section in the library, but the library itself and it's original purpose have been lost and forgotten. How did we get here?

I have a new freind with a masters degree in philosophy. She told me that she considers the how
more important than the why. That's funny, as I believe that the why is more important than the how. God made us all different, and for that I trust there is a good reason. Smiler


a place,

to sort out whys and hows...

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Anyone and everyone, court jesters and children of all ages...

People like David Loy who do alot of work on themselves can become aware of systemic dysfunction.

Hans Christian Anderson told a story about The Emperor's New Clothes, a story which hopefully penetrated the consciousness of more than a few children, as well as their parents and grandparents and other caregivers who read it to them.'s_New_Clothes

Many years ago, there lived an
emperor who was quite an average fairy tale ruler, with one exception: he cared much about his clothes. One day he heard from two swindlers named Guido and Luigi Farabutto that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.

Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.

The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. He was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.

Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:

"But he has nothing on!"

This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and finished the

Sometimes the truth can only be told by a child, a spoonboy or a court jester, and many an emperer has been saved by such an one as these.

Sometimes the emperor, and don't we all have one,
inside and out, must finish the procession anyway.

The elephant in the room (also elephant in the living room, elephant in the corner, elephant on the dinner table, elephant in the kitchen, horse in the corner, etc.) is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored. It is based on the fact that an elephant in a small room would be impossible to overlook.

It sometimes is used to refer to a question or problem that very obviously stands to reason, but which is ignored for the convenience of one or more involved parties. The idiom also implies a value judgment that the issue should be discussed openly.

The idiom is commonly used in addiction recovery terminology to describe the reluctance of friends and family of an addicted person to discuss the person's problem, thus aiding the person's denial.

The idiom is also occasionally invoked as a "pink elephant", possibly in reference to alcohol abuse, or for no other reason than that a pink elephant would be more visible than a normal elephant.

The term is often used to describe a political hot potato that involves a social taboo, such as racism, which everyone understands to be an issue but which no one is willing to admit.
Phillip Zimbardo ran a simulated prison experiment
which was supposed to last two weeks, but was cut short after six days because even as an observer he was getting too caught up in it.

Zimbardo was interviewed earlier this year:

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Zimbardo, who should be held responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib?

PROFESSOR ZIMBARDO: Well, my analysis is, individuals are always ultimately personally responsible. He and most of the other military police said, I?m guilty -- well, they had to say it, because they're in the pictures, what I call the trophy photos. He is willing to accept punishment. The situational analysis says, we should limit the extent of the punishment, because these are extreme mitigating circumstances. And what I do in The Lucifer Effect, and I have a wonderful website, we just put up called www. , we put the system on trial. To say, if you're going to put these soldiers, these good American soldiers on trial for what they did, my argument has been, the people who create this corrupting situation, they have to be put on trial, too. So, I have a virtual voting booth in which I put George Tenant on trial, the former Head of the CIA, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and President Bush. Because, in various ways, they created that situation which corrupted these good American young men and women.
Zimbardo calls this the "Lucifer effect."

Paul Levy calls it "malignant egophrenia."

People who don't recognize Bush's illness and support him are unconsciously colluding with and enabling in the co-creation of thepathological field that is incarnating itself into the human family. People who support Bush become unwitting agents through which this non-local disease feeds and replicates itself. Bysupporting Bush they are collaborating with and becoming parts of the greater,interconnected and self-organizing field of the disease.

The situation is very analogous to when seemingly good, normal,loving Germans supported Hitler, believing he was a good leader trying to helpthem. The German people didn't realize that the virulent pathogen malignantegophrenia had taken possession of Hitler and was incarnating itself throughhim. By not seeing this and supporting Hitler, they became agents used by thisnon-local, deadly disease to propagate itself. This was a collective psychosis,and this is what is taking place in our country right now.
Alice Miller has devoted much of her life to the
study of what happened in Germany, and what happens to this day:

In the 18th century common notions of the evil nature of children or of taming bear witness to superstitions and the wish to be able to train human beings like animals.

One German child-raising book said: "These first years have, among other things, the advantage that one can use force and compulsion. With age children forget everything they encountered in their early childhood. Thus if one can take away children's will, they will not remember afterward that they had had a will." (J. Sulzer: Versuch von der Erziehung und Unterweisung der Kinder, 1748)
These observations have been the result of tens of thousands hours of listening intently to people pouring out their deepest darkest secrets, having worked through a twelve step process repeatedly myself, as well as investigating my own all-to-typical upbringing and
socialization, schooled well and weel-heeled in the upper-middle-way, as Buddha was, and needing to get over it if I ever expect to be enlightened.

I participated in alot of the collective dysfunction, both in this group and in other personal relationships, in spite of being in a recovery process. For this I am truly sorry, and beg of you to attempt to forgive me. I have also reacted to and against what I have percieved in others, which has been at times, and probably was most of the time, spoonboy
boxing with his own shadow and his own demons.

For projecting them on some others around here, who are Dearly Beloved in Christ, I am truly sorry about my process. I have no right to harm others in the name of my own recovery. No one does. In the name of our collective recovery, I say we move boldly forward into the light wherever possible.



a place,

to get on with it...

respectfully and sincerely,

and eternally yours,

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Anyways freinds,

Now that I have pulled off the scab, perhaps some Bactine Ointment from Yogananda's Second Coming of Christ, pp 93-94, discourse 5 on Luke 2:52:

"The great message of Jesus Christ is living and thriving in both East and West. The West has concentrated on perfecting the physical conditions of man, and the East on developing the spiritual potentials of man. Both East and West are one-sided. Granted, the East is not practical enough; but the West is too practical to be spiritually practical! That is why I advocate a harmonius union of the two; they need each other.
Without spiritual idealism, material practicality is the harbinger of selfishness, sin, competition and wars. This is a lesson for the West to learn.
And unless the idealism is tempered with practicality, there is confusion and suffering and lack of natural progress. This is the lesson to be learned by the East.

The East can learn from the West, and the West can learn from the East. Is it not strange that, perhaps due to God's secret plan, since the East needs material development, it was invaded by Western material civilization? And since the West needs spiritual balance, it has been silently but
but surely 'invaded' by Hindu Philosophy, not to conquer lands but to conquer souls with the liberation of God-realization.

We are all children of God, from our inception to our eternity. Differences come from prejudices, and prejudice is the child of ignorance. We should not proudly identify ourselves as Americans or Indians or Italians or any other nationality, for that is an accident of birth. Above all else, we should be proud that we are children of God, made in His image. Is not that the message of Christ?

Jesus the Christ is an excellent model for both East and West to follow. God's stamp "Son of God,"
is hidden in every soul. Jesus affirms the scriptures: "Ye are Gods." (John 10:34) Do away with masks! Come out openly as sons of God-- not hollow by proclamations and learned-by-heart prayers, fireworks of intellectually worded sermons contrived to praise God and gather converts, but by realization ! Become identified not with narrow bigotry, masked by wisdom, but with Christ Consciousness. Become identified with Universal Love, expressed in service to all, materially and spiritually; then you will know who Jesus Christ was, and can say in your soul that we are all one band, all sons of One God."


a place,

for Yogananda wannabes, like

Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Katy
posted Hide Post
Spoons, I have been wanting to read that book, Yogananda's "Second Coming of Christ".

Posts: 538 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post

Yogananda is a great saint, but not a Christian saint. His Christology is that of a Hindu. If I did
not have about 25 years of Christian theology from an orthodox POV, I would not attempt to read this.

It could be a slippery slope leading away from Mere Christianity, as C.S. Lewis called it. It's a synthesis of Christianity and Hindu beliefs, something akin to what C.S. Lewis' student Bede Griffiths was attempting from the other direction,
moving "Toward a Christian Vedanta." It's a bold synthesis and without a doubt Yogananda loves our
Jesus, but I do not feel that the synthesis is by any means the final word or infallible or anything
like that. He claims to have met Christ and had conversations with Him. I don't know...

This is all highly experimental for me, although I have read a half dozen of his books and am very impressed with Dya Mata, who is still with us at 93 years young.

I reserve the right to be wrong, but I would say that his political views are right up there with the Dalai Lama and with David Loy.

Transformative Experience? Definitely!


Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
"First they laugh at you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -Gandhi

I suppose we might wish to laugh at the crazy Zen sensei David Loy and his research on the five hundred year history of the corporation, then join in riduculing his silly goose notions. Then we can join David Horowitz in the call to purge the universities of these influences. "Why, there ought to be a law!" we might cry out in indignation. Perhaps we could round up these troublemakers and anyone they associate with, like
Jim Arraj, and put them away somewhere dark and scary.

The other option is to see an unpleasant reality,
that we have been betrayed by the corporation, as Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln warned us about, and that Woodrow Wilson informed
us had been institutionalized and codified into law.

No one like to be made a fool of, but as the cuckholded husband, the public are frequently the last to know.

"Take your country back!" -Desmond Tutu,

Denver 2006


A Place,

Where sensei David Loy saw through the Matrix...
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
A look at the problem, as identified by David Loy and many others, can be found here:

This science fiction story, which emerged at the beginning of the globalization movement in 1975, takes place in the year 2018, only eleven years away:

Who made science fiction into reality, beginning with revolution in Argentina?

Compare with Yogananda:

"The great message of Jesus Christ is living and thriving in both East and West. The West has concentrated on perfecting the physical conditions of man, and the East on developing the spiritual potentials of man. Both East and West are one-sided. Granted, the East is not practical enough; but the West is too practical to be spiritually practical! That is why I advocate a harmonius union of the two; they need each other.
Without spiritual idealism, material practicality is the harbinger of selfishness, sin, competition and wars. This is a lesson for the West to learn.
And unless the idealism is tempered with practicality, there is confusion and suffering and lack of natural progress. This is the lesson to be learned by the East.

The East can learn from the West, and the West can learn from the East. Is it not strange that, perhaps due to God's secret plan, since the East needs material development, it was invaded by Western material civilization? And since the West needs spiritual balance, it has been silently but
but surely 'invaded' by Hindu Philosophy, not to conquer lands but to conquer souls with the liberation of God-realization.

We are all children of God, from our inception to our eternity. Differences come from prejudices, and prejudice is the child of ignorance. We should not proudly identify ourselves as Americans or Indians or Italians or any other nationality, for that is an accident of birth. Above all else, we should be proud that we are children of God, made in His image. Is not that the message of Christ?

Jesus the Christ is an excellent model for both East and West to follow. God's stamp "Son of God,"
is hidden in every soul. Jesus affirms the scriptures: "Ye are Gods." (John 10:34) Do away with masks! Come out openly as sons of God-- not hollow by proclamations and learned-by-heart prayers, fireworks of intellectually worded sermons contrived to praise God and gather converts, but by realization ! Become identified not with narrow bigotry, masked by wisdom, but with Christ Consciousness. Become identified with Universal Love, expressed in service to all, materially and spiritually; then you will know who Jesus Christ was, and can say in your soul that we are all one band, all sons of One God."

Tragically, Christains have at many times supported rather than opposed imperial projects
throughout history. Perhaps Zen Christians can emerge and challenge the paradigm from within and without. FWIW, spoonboy supports change and growth.
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Originally posted by spoonboy:
[qb] A look at the problem, as identified by David Loy and many others, can be found here:
I figured you'd get around to this sort of thing sooner or later. That's enough of that. Thread closed. Loy's a good guy, but I doubt he'd be into your new world order stuff.
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata    Shalom Place Community    Shalom Place Discussion Groups  Hop To Forum Categories  General Discussion Forums  Hop To Forums  Transformative Experiences    David Loy on Individual and Social Transformation