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since I started my buddhist practice some five years ago, I have made great advancements. I think I've become much more accepting and loving towards others. I used to be cynical and arrogant and I suppose I've since reached a point where I can claim to be free of both. All in all I am quite happy with my life nowadays. I feel no hatred anymore and have become tolerant towards more or less everybody and every aspect of life.

There is one exception however that is really nagging on me: I am an avid follower of politics and can get stirred up by political events, decisions or politicians themselves that are opposed to my own political convictions. Sometimes it is enough for me to see a certain politician to become filled with - I don't know if you might call it hatred - but at least a feeling of great antipathy, even disgust. I know that the person behind the political façade might very well be likable and live a normal life with her or his own needs and worries, personal shortcomings and qualities, just like anybody else.

I am not even talking about today's great "evildoers" like Kim Jong-un or even less contested politicians like Donald Trump or Viktor Orbán. It's mostly politicians on a national or even regional level that are able to cause those bad feelings in me.

My wish is on the one hand to see and accept those people as being regular living beings like you and me that need to be loved and understood just like everybody else. Something that I nowadays don't find hard to see in virtually everybody else, even (bad) criminals. In some ways I even find it easier to feel compassion for somebody like Kim Jong-un than for some of Germany's or France's politicians, i.e. the countries that I feel most closely connected to. To be quite frank, I don't have the slightest idea why I find this so hard to achieve.

On the other hand I would like to be less affected by political issues in general. I know that it might not be the wisest stance to take, but I sometimes think I wouldn't mind losing interest in the local and international political scene altogether because I have the impression that I can't distance myself from it and that it is in some way poisoning my thoughts.

Has anybody else on here made similar experiences or has got some advice on how I can "fix" this strange condition? I already practise metta meditation and it does have a very positive effect on me, like I described above. It just does not seem to achieve much in this regard.

Thanks!

  • In your question you state: "I used to be cynical and arrogant and I suppose I've since reached a point where I can claim to be free of both." Yet you immediately follow with an exception. Perhaps you might spend time in meditation and self examination to determine whether your claim is valid & true. This is tough to do but necessary to avoid fooling ourselves as to our attainment. Personal experience speaking here. Best. – GVCOJims Jul 7 '17 at 13:33
  • Thanks for your comment! I *think*/hope I am free of both and not fooling myself there. Yet, my attitude towards politics has nothing to do I think with arrogance. You might argue that thoroughly detesting a political point of view implies putting oneself above other who adhere to that view. Tending towards a socialist viewpoint, I still think that I do not view myself as being somehow, intrinsically better than anybody else. Does this make sense? In fact I've got a number of colleagues who are quite openly capitalist and I get along with them well enough. I think this is due to the fact... – tigrefurry Jul 11 '17 at 11:38
  • ... that I am working with them on a daily basis and have got to know them well enough to see that they are ordinary people who do not wish others any harm and have feelings and desires of their own. I think what it comes down to is that I see them as regular living beings. Something that seems to be in some way inhibited when I watch or listen to politicians by the barrier of the medium that transmits their message (i.e. the newspaper, the radio or the TV channel). The human being seems to get lost on the way and the only thing that remains is the seemingly hateful message. – tigrefurry Jul 11 '17 at 11:43
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This is an easy one. Stop looking at the media so much. The media is not reality. It's a small negatively skewed snippet of it. There is so much more to life than the perpetual negativity we see in the media.

It's only in recent times that the media has become way more invasive. We now have 24/7 news cycles and people walk around addicted to and staring at devises all day. All that negativity is going into your mind and colouring your world view. It pretty much works the same way as porn. People are addicted to the dopamine/adrenaline hit they get when something in the media fires them up.

The politicians thrive on dividing people. Refuse to play into their game. Stop watcing it just for a few days and notice how much calmer you feel. It's good to stay informed about important world issues but that but does not mean habitually checking the media every 5 minutes or even everyday. If Kim Jung is about to launch another missile what can I do about it?? Nothing!! So why do I need to know about it? So I can go on Facebook and rant? I don't need to know. It's pointless. Far better to use your energy in effecting real change where you can.

You will need to break the habit. It's the only way. If you continue to look at that stuff on a daily basis it will continue to colour your mind in that divisive angry way that only politics can do. Let go of it. You don't need it.

  • Thank you, Arturia! I've accepted your answer as the "correct" one for providing the most practical and concise advice. – tigrefurry Jul 3 '17 at 4:30
  • Still, Dhammadhatu's answer is very valuable for providing me with insight into where I possibly need to further my understanding in the Dhamma and my own concept of my Buddhist believes. Thank you, also, Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena, for pointing out to me that I tend to think in categories of good and bad, which I know are "unhealthful" to my spiritual advanced; a fact that I have lost sight of! – tigrefurry Jul 3 '17 at 4:38
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    You're welcome 😊 Wishing you success. All the best – Arturia Jul 3 '17 at 9:31
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    It's now a bit more than a week that I've been following your advice and I think I feel better. Thank you! I radically cut down on political/economical/societal news and substituted my main channels of information (Nouvel Observateur, Libération, Spiegel, taz) with magazines covering topics that I am also interested in and that I have, strangely, not read in ages, e.g. the National Geographic or its German/European somehow-equivalent GEO. I live in Hamburg where the G20 summit took place last Friday/Saturday which has been a tough test for me, but I think I mastered it surprisingly well! :-) – tigrefurry Jul 11 '17 at 11:55
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    BTW: A strategy that has worked well for me: Reading up on the personal backgrounds of politicians, top managers and the like. I did this with Wolfgang Schäuble, a politician I particularly disliked. I learned about his origins - Offenburg - not far from Stuttgart where I have spent most of my life. Living in Hamburg now I am often plagued by homesickness and the sole fact that he is a "southerner" living far from his home, like me, somehow makes him appear more "real" as a person to me. Also the assassination attempt he suffered in 1990 from which he nearly died that left him paraplectic... – tigrefurry Jul 11 '17 at 12:12
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As a Buddhist, to be engaged in mainstream politics is very difficult because we cannot know the real truth of politics, unless we are absolutely certain.

For example, I have heard some of the most famous Western Theravada monks & the Dalai Lamai speak about 9/11 as though Islam really did it & provide ideas that justify war.

Since there was no real evidence Islam did 9/11 & since the American wars after 9/11 were unrelated to the alleged (Saudi Arabian Wahhabi) terrorists, how can a Buddhist speak truthfully in any way that supports war & killing with a unknown & unproven view?

Similarly, these same Western Theravada monks recently were supporting presidential candidates who were engaged in wars & murder because they believed some other policies of these candidates were better than the other.

Therefore, we have Buddhist monks & nuns encouraging their supporters to vote for political parties that engage in unjustified wars & killings.

It follows, unless you are truly certain who you support politically will not engage in any harm, how can you, as a Buddhist, support mainstream politics?

How can you get passionate about opposing Donald Trump or Viktor Orbán when the alternative is really no better, from a Dhammic point of view. Basically all of the major politicians, when examined closely, are violating the Buddhist moral precepts.

For example, the only Australian politician I listen to (occasionally) was originally an intelligence officer 'whistle blower' about the weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq War. Naturally, he was proven to be right. I recently phoned his office about the Syrian gas attack &, as a result, he was the only Australian politician to make an honest & moral statement about it, namely, there was no evidence that is was a deliberate chemical attack.

What I am saying here is if you get involved in truly moral politics, you will have very little support & feel quite powerless. When you realize how powerless you are to affect real change, the 'passion' diminishes greatly. Although you may occasionally try to do something, you realise there is little you can do to affect real change when the majority of people are still supporting the major political parties.


Buddhism explains six realms of existence: (i) human; (ii) benevolent godly (deva); (iii) violent godly (asura); (iv) animal; (v) ghost; & (vi) hell.

Most politicians & rulers throughout history have been violent gods (asuras), which is why they resort to military violence to achieve their ends.

In other words, in my opinion, they are not regular human beings like you and me. Their disposition is inherently evil, psychopathic & animalistic.

The Buddha described this non-human animalistic behaviour as follows:

Here, bhikkhus, there is no conduct guided by the Dhamma, no righteous conduct, no wholesome activity, no meritorious activity. Here there prevails mutual devouring, the devouring of the weak.

SN 56.47

In this respect, the Buddha taught to view evil as evil, for what it really is, in a way that leads to disenchantment & dispassion towards the world:

'See evil as evil.' This is the first Dhamma discourse.

'Having seen evil as evil, become disenchanted there, dispassionate there, released.' This is the second Dhamma discourse.

These are the two Dhamma discourses that the Tathagata — worthy & rightly self-awakened — has given in sequence."

Iti 2.12


Those who imagine evil where there is none, and do not see evil where it is — upholding false views, they go to states of woe.

Those who discern the wrong as wrong and the right as right — upholding right views, they go to realms of bliss.

Nirayavagga

While we can try, the Buddha did not really place great hope in the world. Instead, he taught the world is evolving following Dependent Origination, i.e., evolving with ignorance & craving.

If we examine the history of the world, for thousands of years, it is just war after war. When there is a particularly vicious & destructive war, such as WW2, the people take a rest from war. But then soon enough, they start again. Has there really been any change?

The USA has spent $5 trillion on a war on terror. However, there is more terrorism today than there was when this war began. Yet how many people question this war & what it is really about?

According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught the majority of the people in the world are spiritually blind. If you have this right view, you will give up politics because you will realise you cannot really change anything politically (apart from yourself).

174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess insight. Only a few, like birds escaping from the net, go to realms of bliss.

171. Come! Behold this world, which is like a decorated royal chariot. Here fools flounder, but the wise have no attachment to it.

170. One who looks upon the world as a bubble and a mirage, him the King of Death sees not.

58. Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.

59. Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom.

Dhammapada

  • Thank you, Dhammadhatu, this is a very valuable answer! I found myself more than once tending to support political actions of a party or faction that reflected my general views even though those actions could be considered highly immoral. Disenchantment is probably a very potent remedy for political fervour. – tigrefurry Jul 4 '17 at 6:02
  • Thank you. I think as Buddhists we can live a certain way of life and if others can follow this way of life, the world, if possible, can become gradually better. Today, in Australia, everything is changing fast in a bad direction and it takes time for people to wake up, if they can. For example, I used to work for the government, which was a very good job for many years, until recently. I left my job two years ago & now do some work from home. Kind regards – Dhammadhatu Jul 4 '17 at 9:06
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As long as you keep analysing a situation as good, bad or neutral and react to them, suffering will arise. So stop reacting and being emotionally attached to these categorizations. Ultimately, one's sphere of control is limited. If you can do something, do it, or else just leave it alone. Getting emotionally attached and creating suffering for oneself does not help you or even put things right. If things are not right, at least make sure you are not hurt.

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Taking the precept of not "speaking of what is not true" coupled with "abstainging from entertainmaint shows" serious, next to the basic precept.

Once one does not give attention to not benefical things every kind of hindrence dies.

By abstaining from TV, radio, News papers, useless books, and from talks about it, its fast done.

Like all it starts with good association.

After some month one knows and normaly has no more desire in idly talk. Stay especially away from "Buddhists" either lay or monks, who are only a little involved in such, not to speak of active in such. Totally not aware, how much ever they talk and teach.

If asking, my person would not even know who is president or was the last maybe 12 years in the country he was born, not to speak of others politicans near and far.

If liking to know more and in detail, feel free in an non-political area.

(Note: this is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for any commercial purpose or any other worldly gain.)

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Try watching a documentary about the Illuminati, "The American Dream" cartoon on Youtube for instance. It will disillusion you from the left-right paradigm which is designed to make us combat each other rather than the establishment itself.

Politics literally means the study of the people. As such, doing something truly good through politics is what a bodhisattva would do. On the other hand, most of our minds are too clouded to make a change in the right place and time.

It would be good to go to a protest, help fund an actually anti-establishment politician (like Ron Paul)... but it gets tricky. Trump claimed to be anti-establishment but here he is completely bought out.

After you learn more about the system at its core, including fractional reserve banking... you will see how it is doomed for failure and maybe make preparations.

To be forcibly un-involved from politics is to hide under a rock--but definitely do not get mired in the details.

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