Buddhists have been dealing in liberation for 2,500 years.
Buddha went from being a prince to a monk and finally took the middle path. He wouldn’t live as royalty and he wouldn’t pray in silence. Instead, he traveled and taught. He achieved enlightenment and spread his philosophy, helping individuals journey to liberation.
The teachings are secular. Though Buddhism is considered a religion, it is more closely akin to a way of life. It offers one, of many, paths to individual liberation.
In the Shambhala sect of Buddhism, the personal journey is especially important. In the past, I fell into the trap of thinking I could prescribe the right way for people. What I didn’t realize is that all I can do is prescribe the right path for myself.
Chögyam Trungpa describes the philosophy in his book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. He discusses the gap between grand ideas about how society should function, versus the individual’s ability to run his own life according to the same principles.
You can’t help society purely on the basis of your vision for the nation or the world. There are many ideas about how to organize a society so that it will fulfill people’s needs. There is, of course, the popular idea of democratic rule, rule by the people. Another approach is that rule by an elite will produce a progressive society. A third idea is to take a scientific approach to ruling, in which natural resources are equally distributed and a completely balanced ecology is created. These and other ideas may have value, but they must be integrated with an individual human being’s experience of domestic life. Otherwise you have a huge gap between your grand vision for society and the reality of everyday existence.
Trying to vote for freedom or legislate it is doomed to fail based on the very nature of individual liberty. If you want the ultimate freedom of personal choice, then as an individual you must make that personal choice to be free.
Freedom is the ultimate in grassroots, it is personal, and it has got to happen on an individual level first in order to make a difference on a larger scale.
I didn’t understand this when I once campaigned for candidates for Congress. I thought if we only got the right people in power, then they could implement a top down solution to free society. But even if a politician could deliver this type of individual liberation, why would they? It would put them out of a job. It would make them useless.
Politicians today thrive on selling fear. That is the only way they can remain in power. They act like saviors in a “setting sun” world. That is, a world based on death. It is a world based on scarcity, aggression, cowardice, and fear.
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