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Author Topic: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk  (Read 1376 times)

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Offline adventurerTopic starter

Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« on: January 22, 2010, 03:29:31 AM »

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=42,5778,0,0,1,0

At a gathering at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), he said: I am a Marxist monk, a Buddhist Marxist. I belong to the Marxist camp, because unlike capitalism, Marxism is more ethical. Marxism, as an ideology, takes care of the welfare of its employees and believes in distribution of wealth among the people of the state.
 

Offline consortium11

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 07:01:51 AM »
Slightly strange comment from a person who's entire existence is based upon a caste/class system...

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2010, 07:32:33 AM »
Slightly strange comment from a person who's entire existence is based upon a caste/class system...

And whose country was taken over by a communistic system whose government forced him into exile (And who would most likely LOVE to park a tank on his forehead)

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2010, 01:11:37 PM »
Ther eis a difference between a philosophy and a religion, and a philosophical standpoint is not necessarily a political standpoint.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2010, 01:15:46 PM »
Ther eis a difference between a philosophy and a religion, and a philosophical standpoint is not necessarily a political standpoint.

True.. but you got to admit there is a little Irony in the statement

Offline consortium11

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2010, 01:37:29 PM »
Ther eis a difference between a philosophy and a religion, and a philosophical standpoint is not necessarily a political standpoint.

Saying you're a Marxist (either politically or philosophically) means that you believe in the eventual abolition of the caste/class system.

Being a Tibetan Monk means that you're part of one of the most rigid caste systems on earth, a system that provides for the monks of Tibet to live lives of luxury compared to the serfs who served your every need.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 01:45:15 PM »
Saying you're a Marxist (either politically or philosophically) means that you believe in the eventual abolition of the caste/class system.

Being a Tibetan Monk means that you're part of one of the most rigid caste systems on earth, a system that provides for the monks of Tibet to live lives of luxury compared to the serfs who served your every need.

He has several thousand years of history to undo to fix that caste system.  I'm sure he'd love to abolish it and make all men equal, but the weight of history is a heavy pendulum to start swinging back in the opposite direction....Irony perhaps, but no less the truth of what he believes. ^_^

Offline consortium11

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2010, 02:16:39 PM »
He has several thousand years of history to undo to fix that caste system.  I'm sure he'd love to abolish it and make all men equal, but the weight of history is a heavy pendulum to start swinging back in the opposite direction....Irony perhaps, but no less the truth of what he believes. ^_^

In the brief time he was in power he did reform some of the most heinous practices in Tibet (and his predecessor had got rid of some others), but the key point remains. He has never even hinted at removing the priest/serf distinction is he did get power... and any system where class in integral to it can never be Marxist.

Offline TheLegionary

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Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 11:55:08 PM »
I may have misunderstood the comment. Sorry in advance if I did.

Maybe there is a slight conceptual confusion. To the best of my knowledge, there are two main religions in India: Hinduism, which is actually caste based, and Buddhism, which sees the society as composed of equal people.

Getting back to what Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) said, the sentence will have different meanings according to the reader. Marxism is derogative for some, while it may sound like a compliment to others. Maybe this guy was having in mind the idealistic view of a society where everyone lived with the same material conditions, just as the monks try to do. On the other hand, if you add any other political or philosophical meaning to marxism, the sentence looks like a paradox.

Offline consortium11

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2010, 05:19:45 AM »
I may have misunderstood the comment. Sorry in advance if I did.

Maybe there is a slight conceptual confusion. To the best of my knowledge, there are two main religions in India: Hinduism, which is actually caste based, and Buddhism, which sees the society as composed of equal people.

Getting back to what Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) said, the sentence will have different meanings according to the reader. Marxism is derogative for some, while it may sound like a compliment to others. Maybe this guy was having in mind the idealistic view of a society where everyone lived with the same material conditions, just as the monks try to do. On the other hand, if you add any other political or philosophical meaning to marxism, the sentence looks like a paradox.

Tibetan Buddhism, with it's history of slavery (due to the poor serfs having "bad karma") and continued separation between the priest and the serf classes, has a very strange way of showing a belief in equal peoples.

Offline TheLegionary

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Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2010, 10:32:52 AM »
Hi Consortium11,
I did not know about this Calvinist approach of Buddhism. Thank you for enlighting me!
I believe my view of Buddhism was somehow contaminated with the romanticised coverage given by the Press and some artists to Dalai Lama etc. Always good to learn everything has a dark side. LOL/
I know wikipedia is not one of the best sources, but I read the following "answer" to your argument:
Incorrect understandings of karma in the early sutras
In Buddhism, karma is not pre-determinism, fatalism or accidentalism, as all these ideas lead to inaction and destroy motivation and human effort. These ideas undermine the important concept that a human being can change for the better no matter what his or her past was, and they are designated as "wrong views" in Buddhism. The Buddha identified three
Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering, including all future happiness and suffering, arise from previous karma, and human beings can exercise no volition to affect future results (Past-action determinism).
Issaranimmanahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are caused by the directives of a Supreme Being (Theistic determinism).
Ahetu-appaccaya-vaada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).[17]
Karma is continually ripening, but it is also continually being generated by present actions, therefore it is possible to exercise free will to shape future karma. P.A. Payutto writes, "the Buddha asserts effort and motivation as the crucial factors in deciding the ethical value of these various teachings on kamma."[18]

Offline Kotah

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2010, 10:57:31 AM »
First of all, let me clear up a few things regarding Marxism, and Communism.

1. There seems to be some confusion between 'Marxism' and Maoism. Fist of all, Marxism has not existed. Therefore, Marxism never exiled him from anything.

2. In discussing what 'Communism is' please understand that there are different types of communism the same as there are different types of religion. I'm not saying Communism is a religion, just stating the fact that there are, in fact, different types. In fact, there are different types of Marxism. It would be, actually, quite easy to apply some of these different methods (several of which are quite.... uhh.... secretariat and uh.... well... twisted) to just about anything. Also, I am not stating the the monk's are, I'm just trying to clear up a bit about communism/Marxism. It's far easier to divide 'communism' and 'Marxism' into tendencies.

Think of it like Catholic is the religion, the tendency would be 'Roman', 'Irish', 'Russian' ect. Related but very different in and of themselves.

3. The general Marxist view of what Communism is, is a 'stateless system'. Considering the state to be violence perpetuated from one (smaller) class to another (larger) class. Socialism is seen as the 'breakdown of the state as we know it'. In other words, a revolution in which the proletariat take control from the upper class bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie being the %10 of the world that owns everything, and control just about everything. The 'revolution' is considered a multi-layered thing, with dialectical changes. capitalism -> socialism -> communism.

4. Marxism is mainly composed of three parts.
A. Dialectical materialism. - The idea that everything is ever evolving. 'change is always going to happen' sort of thing. You have a thesis, say a cup. The cup is the cup, A=A. Then there is the antithesis, not the cup. A (does not equal) b. However, there is also a evolutionary synthesis, The cup itself is always changing. The oils on your hand, natural breakdown, ect. So, we get that A (does not always equal) A from a given moment to the next. The thesis vs. antithesis to the synthesis, and a new thesis is formed. thesis -> antithesis -> synthesis = Thesis -> antithesis -> so on and so forth. Thus creating a constant state of change.

B. Historical Materialism. - The idea that dialectics, applied to history, actively shows a rate of change and evolution. Starting from the beginning, There was an anarchist/communist form of society in which life was composed of 'tribe' that took part in hunting and gathering. Food was little, so the 'tribe' worked together to gather enough food to sustain all the members. If there was not enough food to be found, the 'tribes' would often break down, or join with other tribes (according to needs) to make sure that everyone could survive. Eventually Animal husbandry, as well as horticulture were discovered. Because of this,  'tribes' no longer had to migrate. They could settle into an area (the early stages of land ownership) they also had something in which they had never had before- A (small) surplus of food. Everyone did not have to work all the time. From this, then, derived the first class system. Since not everyone had to work, people were able to learn from the things around them. To establish things like (in the far early day) cave paintings, they could study the stars, take greater care in finding out different uses for plants, ect. Thus you have the rise of the 'medicine man' and other religious leaders. This class system, at the time, was extremely progressive. However, in modern times, it clearly would not be. In the way of dialectics, (thesis) Hunters and gatherers-> (antithesis) Starve -> (synthesis) Find a better way = settle and grow crops and raise animals. An evolutionary change.

Thus, he doesn't have thousands of years to overthrow, in fact, he only has a hundred or so in which most of the world was in the vein of capitalism. The caste systems before have already been overthrown by the system that followed them.

It happens in almost every system we have had. The Thesis, turns around and makes for it's own destruction via a progressive step. Early anarchism/communism hunter gatherers -> the progressive step was different forms of 'slave societies' which lead to the creation of writing, language, medicine, ect. -> the progressive step was to change to feudalism, which allowed for more prominent cities to develop, start the building of factories, a more heavy monetary exchange, ect. -> the next progressive step was Capitalism, which built even more factories, created the working class, even more technological advances, ect. - the next progressive step (in the Marxist train) is socialism, more economical equality, health care for all, a better standard of living, higher quality of life, ruled by the majority, ect. -> the next step would be communism, and so on and so forth.

c. Marxism economics. - This is kinnda hard to explain in my own words. So I am going to link and quote to make sure this is explained a bit more clearly.
http://www.marxist.com/what-is-marxism-economics-materialism.htm#economics

Quote
To begin with, all the capitalist firms produce goods or services, or more correctly they produce commodities. That is a good or service produced for sale only. Of course, someone may make something for his or her own personal use. Before capitalism existed, many people had to. But this is not a commodity. Capitalist production is above all the creation and "immense accumulation of commodities". That is why Marx himself started his investigation of capitalism with an analysis of the character of the commodity itself.

Quote
The law of value governs the price of goods. As explained earlier, the value of commodities is equal to the amount of labour contained in it. In theory, the value is equal to its price. Yet, in reality, the price of a commodity tends to be either above or below its real value. This fluctuation is caused by different influences on market price, such as the growth of monopoly. The differences of supply and demand also have a great effect. For instance, there may be a surplus of a commodity in the market, and the price that day may be far below the real value, or if there was a shortage, the price would rise above it. The effects of supply and demand have led bourgeois economists to believe that this law is the sole factor in determining price. What they were unable to explain was that prices always fluctuate around a definite level. What that level is, is not determined by supply and demand, but by the labor time spent in the articles' production. A lorry will always be more expensive than a plastic bucket.

You should read the whole article.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Offline consortium11

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2010, 02:03:42 PM »
Hi Consortium11,
I did not know about this Calvinist approach of Buddhism. Thank you for enlighting me!
I believe my view of Buddhism was somehow contaminated with the romanticised coverage given by the Press and some artists to Dalai Lama etc. Always good to learn everything has a dark side. LOL/
I know wikipedia is not one of the best sources, but I read the following "answer" to your argument:
Incorrect understandings of karma in the early sutras
In Buddhism, karma is not pre-determinism, fatalism or accidentalism, as all these ideas lead to inaction and destroy motivation and human effort. These ideas undermine the important concept that a human being can change for the better no matter what his or her past was, and they are designated as "wrong views" in Buddhism. The Buddha identified three
Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering, including all future happiness and suffering, arise from previous karma, and human beings can exercise no volition to affect future results (Past-action determinism).
Issaranimmanahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are caused by the directives of a Supreme Being (Theistic determinism).
Ahetu-appaccaya-vaada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).[17]
Karma is continually ripening, but it is also continually being generated by present actions, therefore it is possible to exercise free will to shape future karma. P.A. Payutto writes, "the Buddha asserts effort and motivation as the crucial factors in deciding the ethical value of these various teachings on kamma."[18]


Considering the political situation in Tibet almost all of the sources are severely biased one way or another, so it's hard to find definitive answers. For a fairly balanced article the wiki page is a good start and there are a lot more biased pieces such as Friendly Fuedalism as well. In short, as I understand it, Tibet had improved in the early 20th Century prior to the Chinese Invasion, but the blocks of the previous regime still remained; a privileged caste of priests supported by a vast lower class with a relatively tiny middle class forming some sort of bridge between the two. I'd say Marx would view old Tibet as a cross between the Slave Society and Feudalism in his periods of history.

The Dalai Lama has gone on record about Marxism before and has put the weight of his authority behind several workers rights type legislation before. It is worth noting that little of this seems to make its way back to the Government in Exile which pretty much has a "same as before" attitude to everything.

Offline adventurerTopic starter

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2010, 01:51:41 AM »
lets not forget to mention Friedrich Engels, the entrepreneurial friend of Marx. He paid lots of his bills.):)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Engels

Offline Kotah

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2010, 02:03:48 PM »
On that note, there are Lenin and Trotsky too. Rose Luxembourg, Jack London, Helen Keller, there are a lot of Marxists out there.

http://www.marxists.org/

A list of Marxist authors.

Offline ThePrince

Re: Dalai Lama: I am a Marxist Monk
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2010, 11:40:02 PM »
Every religion has its skeletons in its closet and Buddhism is no different. We can point fingers and argue over who is right and who is wrong. Or, we can forgive and work towards making the world a better place.

Two things to note:

1) The Dalai Lama has been working to make Tibet a part of China and not its own free country. He is trying to preserve Tibet's ethnicity and culture, which the chinese government has been trying to suppress. Lately there have been some dialog/ or the possibility of dialog with the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. This is a huge deal because usually the Chinese government considers anyone who listens to the Dalai Lama is in a conspiracy with him. His remark could be a message to the chinese government that he is willing to negotiate with them. Its important that his Holiness and the Chinese government work things out, because he is old and possibly terminally ill. When he dies, there is a possibility of a dispute of his successor from the Tibet government in exile and the Chinese government (who supposedly have groomed his successor). Which could lead to riots and bloodshed.

2)Keep in mind the Dala Lama speaks through a interpreter. Its possible he could have been misquoted as we are translating from two languages.