"The patriot, like the Christian, must learn to bear revilings and persecutions as a part of his duty; and in proportion as the trial is severe, firmness under it becomes more requisite and praiseworthy. It requires, indeed, self-command. But that will be fortified in proportion as the calls for its exercise are repeated."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- David, Orlando      
wow, a lot there
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Patriots of today are doing the heavy carrying. They will be the ones to restore our liberty's, our rights and our Constitution. And they will do so while being ridiculed by the rabid socialist left who deserve none of those same rights. Semper Tyrannus.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Truth from a great patriot,Diest,and one of the smartest men who ever lived.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    Anything Jefferson ever said was good!
     -- cal, lewisvilole, tx     
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    We have no idea what a patriot is because the word has been totally misused (I think TJ would not write these words today) and as for Christian's, most are not. What is important is the discipline of self, compassion, and empathy towards all sentient beings. The integrity of this state is what fortifies the mind and body, and that of the family and the community.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    A true patriot questions authority, its not someone with flags on their car. And, lately, it has been the Christian (OK the fundamentalist one's) who have been doing the reviling.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBE demonstrates this quote with his own revilings. ;-) The christian word for "compassion and empathy towards all sentient beings" is Love. Altrusim, whether secular or religious has a fatal flaw: it sacrifices the individual for the group, even a group of strangers. The idea that the lives and happiness of others is greater than my own life and happiness is an oxymoronic attitude. That I am responsible for others and they are responsible for me, but none are responsible for themselves is an ideology used by the rulers and priests of old. It is an anthill mentality. Let each live according to one's own conscience -- that is the best way to dispense empathy. Not everyone deserves empathy, I will decide whom I will love and serve, not as some 'duty' to my fellow man, but according to my own conscience. You may do the same.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, look, you are I believe a nice chap, though somewhat misguided when it comes to compassion and empathy - I know you are well travelled and these two conditions compassion and empathy are not to be defined lightly even to one's own interpretation and conscience. No, I believe you to be incorrect with regard to your interpretation of empathy "oxymoronic attitude". How is it oxymoronic if I place the happiness of others over my own (not necessarily at every occasion)? I find it very simplistic to say that "my happiness comes first". Fortunately, for the sake of others, St. Francis didn't agree with you - this is just one example of thousands. As Gloria Steinem said "Empathy is the most radical of human emotions" and its bedfellow is compassion. And Homer who said "Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other's good, and melt at other's woe." And as for altruism, well, I would say that Christ is a good example and I don't think Christians would agree with you that it was a fatal flaw. Archer, I know you are a kind individual but sometimes your comments come across totally selfish of the welfare of those less fortunate. This "pull themselves up by their boot straps" is what is wrong with the American dream and that is why it must implode - it goes inward instead of going outward.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBE, Interesting observation. I think what we might mean here is not that we should always put ourselves ahead of others, but that we must by necessity be responsible to and for ourselves ahead of others. Philanthropy can then be prioritized on a case by case basis, but unless you see first to your own well being, you're no good to anyone, not even yourself. So pulling one's self up by one's own boot straps should be instinctive, not enforced so much. Either way, forced philanthropy to an entrenched welfare state is a morally vile act.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    ...when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all being.” Sogyal Rinpoche
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Good point Carlton. Though it begs a retort, re; an example of putting your own safety above your own "see first to your own well being" if a ship sinks my own well being would be to grab the first piece of wood and hang on for dear life, but, as we know you and I wouldn't do that, we would rescue those who floundering and need assistance and then and only then when we are totally exhausted and on the verge of drowning we would think of ourselves.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBE Hang on to that piece of wood...more may need it too! ;) We can play all kind of scenarios...would I die to save my wife and children? Of course...the welfare guy up the road? Probably not.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Learned of a new group today "Partiotic Majority PAC". Isn't it interesting that some would seem to think that the patriots are a minority or small number of people. Is it possible that the majority are the patriots. Some think patrioism is placing the founders and the Constitution on a sacred pedestan and then to stop thinking and treat the founders and the Constitution as "sacred". I think true patriots are people who continue to learn, think and be creative. A Harvard historian has a new book titled "The Whites of Their Eyes" in which she expores what she explores what she calls the false notions of patriotism of the Tea Party movement. Check it out.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    I believe there to be a moral imperative to love one another as our selves; love our enemies, bless them that curse me/us, do good to them that hate me/us, and pray for them which despitefully use me/us, and persecute me/us; for the sun does rise on the evil and on the good, and it rains on the just as well as the unjust. That being understood, we must also be firm as a rock and wise. Most individual's resources are limited so the spirit and wisdom mandate restraint. We must know those that we are able teach to fish (as J Carlton referenced the probably not of the guy up the road), for such will fortify in proportion as the calls for its exercise are repeated
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    RBE, I think you are a nice chap, too. The distinction I am making is one of compulsion. I get to choose how I will extend my empathy and compassion. My cup 'runneth over' -- this is the place from which to serve others and the causes which I hold dear. It is not out of religious or legal 'duty' that I give what I have to give, it is out of being whole and complete, out of recognizing my abundance and ability to help others. My complaint is that you say that I should give to YOUR causes because YOUR causes are right and just, and mine are selfish. And more to the point, you advocate government force to compel me to do so. I live in New York City where there is no shortage of lost and broken people on every street corner. There is no way I could support all of them although my heart breaks whenever I see them. I have tried in my youth to help the 'homeless' street people -- these are the most committed individuals you would ever meet, there is no changing them, they are there because they have put themselves there. Have you ever tried to listen to a homeless person ranting and raving to themselves and try and help them? Should I take from my table and give to them who live sufficiently off the refuse in the streets? Why? Is this what you do? I am frankly insulted that you believe my conscience is substandard to yours and that YOUR aims are higher than mine. You take care of those whom your heart leads you, and I will take care of those whom my heart leads me. From what you say, the objects of your compassion are more deserving than mine, and thus I should be COMPELLED to give what I have to YOUR pets not mine. It is not compassionate or just to forcibly take from me to give to your objects of benevolence. This promise of a 'future' utopia is BS -- I am alive now, and I will not throw my pearls to swine. The very reasons you would not give George Bush one dime is why I would not authorize Obama or a government to exercise the compassion I would exercise on my own. Yes, I would die for my children -- more importantly I would KILL to protect my children. You should take your Buddhism and Taoism more seriously -- there is nothing to achieve, no where to go, nothing to get -- you are whole and complete and it is your choice to do with your life what you wish, and the same is true for all the rest of us. You condemn Christianity quickly, but forget that your own dogma is no less self-righteous. The world does not need saving -- the sooner you get that, the sooner you can give from an honest heart, not because you are compelled to by law or dogma but from the very love and compassion you preach to others about. Keep your vigil going, I honestly respect that, all I ask is the same. I don't need your permission or approval -- and neither do you need mine. Live your life to the highest standard you can manage, and respect others who do the same, even if their empathy goes to folks you don't give a damn about. That is OK, because there are those I do not approve of and refuse to support, too. There is no such thing as 'loving everybody' for that is loving nobody. And it is not possible anyway and dishonest to say so.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Wow! to be whole and complete, that's quite an achievement. To be whole and complete is a holistic characteristic not found in too many people. The ability and abundance you mention is not necessarily one of subsistence but more importantly one of Self, one of love for all sentient beings, and one of pure compassion and empathy. There are many tales of those who have given the shirt off their backs and it is this sentiment that I was referring to in my earlier comment. Archer, I must correct you, I never said that you must give to my causes I would be that naive or foolish - it was a rhetorical statement not one of fact. Secondly, I did not say your causes are selfish I said that your comments may be seen as selfish. I know your heart goes out to those less fortunate. The tripartite theory of knowledge is certainly taxed at this point. You are also incorrect when you say I wish my causes to be compelled by government (just fro the record, where did I say that?). I too live in NYC for a short time and know well the circumstance you refer too. Where there is injustice there is no amount of defense that one's own conscience can condone - the smallest act of kindness can sometimes be your greatest reward. Archer, I do not believe you meant what you said "Should I take from my table and give to them who live sufficiently off the refuse in the streets?" YES, if you are so inclined, but NO, if you are not. Why make this personal comment - one's inference is not directed at you but to the understanding you have of my words. "People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights" Nietzsche. This is not about me and you, we are so insignificant compared to the bigger picture, so, don't feel substandard. It looks like we both have the same heartfelt compassion no one is greater than the other. Your comments with regard to taking away from those who have to those who don't needs working on. There are many factors in this scenario like the French Revolution like the taxes in England during its period of great wealth when the gentry actually wanted to be taxed at 70% because of the disparity in the distribution of wealth. Wealth is a subject for another occasion as it's contours reach into every crevice. Lastly, on that point, they are not my objects of benevolence but the object of all those who wish to breach this gap of disparity and depravity. What do you consider to be your pearls, your wealth, your materialism; really, Archer that is not you. It's not the Swine we need to worry about but those who keep them. Your view regarding "the rest of us" is very simplistic (now, I'm not saying you are simplistic but your view on this subject is). Why the hell do you think we have agencies to help those less fortunate? we give to those agencies like my friends and I did last week to help Gay teenagers on the verge of committing suicide - the list is endless but we have to pick and choose which ones we can afford to help. I too do not give a dime to either Bush or Obama with regards to humanitarian aid. I am a Rotarian and we give our hearts before we give money, we give our labor, we give our experience and if we have money over we give that too. And, in some case we give money we don't have over. I do not have the wealth to travel to Africa and give money personally to a village so they can dig a well for clean drinking water but instead I give to Rotary who can pool our resources and achieve our collective goals. My reason for mentioning this is not for any gratitude but to explain that there are agencies that can do a much better job with my donation than I can by myself. My friends and I raised $57k for Katrina and gave the money to the Red Cross - so there are needs for these 501c3 agencies that are equipped to handle situation better than individuals. Lastly, I don't condemn Christianity I condemn most Christians who Christ would throw out of the temple. Like Gandhi said "I like your Christ but not your Christians". Loving everybody is not the question, what is the question is that your heart has love. Though I do not possess the wisdom and fortitude to love everyone one, I make the effort, and it is the effort that is the most important factor in this equation. Carlton and Archer, you both mention about dying for your family - I think that goes without saying. An interesting observation is this (until death do us part) was the very reason for the Phalanx, and why the Celts allowed their women to fight by their side.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBE, as I said, my issue is compulsion, and your oft comments in support of socialism implies and infers that there should be some power over the people to compel them to pay for the needs of others (as who sees fit, I can only assume those that you wish to rule). Are we now each to justify our own charity and compassion? Isn't that a bit egotistical especially when you preach about selflessness? As an admitted gay atheist socialist you must be no stranger to the derision and condemnation of society, do you not recognize that the cause of individualism is on your side and collectivism is the oppression that leads to suicide of 'the self'? Somehow you seem to equate your own selfishness and pet causes as selfless. Screw selflessness!! You aren't merging yourself with the collective, you are taking a stand, a stand that YOU believe in -- it is looking after your own self and those whom you value -- good for you!! But do not confuse this with selflessness or service to humankind. It is for your own self-interest, self-respect, and survival. That is your responsibility as it is mine. We may be at odds in personal ideology, but that is what makes America great. As far as being whole and complete as an 'achievement,' I smile -- it is the belief that we are not whole, that the other guy, too, is not whole, and that somehow, we must fix everything and everybody. This is a form of Self loathing, of denial of the Self. If you have missed this, then you have missed the very essense of Buddhism which you have often referred to. A tree is whole from seed to 100 feet high -- it does not need to 'achieve' its wholeness, it already is whether it makes it to 1 foot or 100 feet. And so are you, and the sooner you get that, the sooner you can really help the suicidal and self-destructive discover their dignity in this very uncertain world.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, you keep replying without answering my questions and until you can be honest in your rhetoric is very difficult to have a sensible and intelligent conversation - you continually go off into your condemnation of what you think I am saying and stand for which is based on your own thoughts and not mine. My comments will support ANY regime, government, religion, that I believe (not the collective) to be honest and fair. You may call me a socialist and that's fine too, but the point I am making is that is where your problem lies - my views at this moment may support certain socialistic philosophies but that doesn't give you the right to label willy-nilly anyone with a socialist view point. Yes, I am very much into the Buddhist way as they believe in the moment and not a baggage of thoughts and ideas that clutter the mind - the very essence of Buddhism is compassion and empathy, as is mine. The end of suffering through enlightenment. The essence is shown through the four noble truths which basically are the cessation of suffering. And by the way, you were the one to say you are whole and complete not me, even though I may think I am (there is still a long way/road to go on that front). For your edification I have linked a free copy of the Essence of Buddhism: http://www.blpusa.com/download/bies03.pdf Yes, you are spot on with your tree analogy: Holistic is exactly that, WHOLE - a oneness. That's why when we hurt one person it effects the whole of humanity. I hope this helps.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Robert, I believe I have answered your questions. You and I have been commenting on this list for several years now, and I do believe your ideals have been repeatedly expressed. Do I have it wrong? Have you not stated that you are a "progressive liberal" a few times? Have you not pointed out that socialism is not as bad as those opposed to socialism have claimed? Have you not tried to argue that fascism is a 'right-wing' ideology when in fact it was the form of socialism embraced by the Nazis (which is an abbreviation for the national socialist party)? What shall we infer when you say "they are not my objects of benevolence but the object of all those who wish to breach this gap of disparity and depravity"? My argument is against collectivist control of individual actions -- that does not seem to be the case in your statements though -- if I am incorrect, then please 'enlighten me' as to what the "disparity and depravity" is and your proposed solution. It is an unspoken rule that progressive liberals should never admit that their ideology is socialistic -- never, never, never. They say it is 'compassionate' and that the end justifies the means. This rhetoric is not new, and historically it has been used by every despot to assume power. Now, we are in agreement about a great many things, Robert, and I do consider you to be a very conscientious and compassionate person. It is in that context that I am trying to make you aware of the dangers of altruistic delusions. I have not yet heard from you how you intend to relieve people's suffering, but I have never gotten the feeling it would be through the teaching of Buddhism to those suffering -- if you had, I would be in agreement, of course, I do not expect that this is something you would expect from government. However, I do get the impression that your solutions to "breach this gap of disparity and depravity" would be some form of government regulation and/or subsidy -- correct me if I am wrong -- and if I am not wrong, then that is the compelled compliance of statutes that aim to dictate my behavior and my financial support upon threat of imprisonment. It also strikes me funny that as an openly admitted atheist your pleadings resemble so much a christian missionary. ;-) As a seeker of truth, I have immersed myself in the study and practice of a number of religious philosophies, and the 4 Noble Truths are indeed about suffering, its origin, and the relief from suffering. I disagree that the essence of Buddhism is compassion, as the 4 noble truths and the 8 fold path are not about compassion per se but about Self discipline particularly with regards to one's own desire which Buddha states is the origin of all suffering. There are a great many Zen tales I think you would enjoy that help to explain my point -- see if you can find some audio files from Alan Watts. In essence, the 'enlightenment' and wholeness you seek is indeed already here -- it is the desire to be enlightened that makes you 'suffer,' your desire to socially engineer the perfect world, your desire to be 'selfless', even the desire to be desireless -- all are predicated upon the same delusion that 'this isn't it.' And let me tell you, if you don't handle that, then NOTHING will EVER be enough. And that is the same corruption of the self that we see in the megalomaniacs who continually find more things to 'fix' that are in fact 'not broken.' As well, since the 'this isn't it' syndrome is the spiritual prison that Buddha's teachings were aimed to liberate oneself from, the politicians of the world play upon that belief and the fears that go with it to get themselves elected. So the apparent paradox is that the world needs saving but that its salvation depends on it understanding that it is already saved. What underlies it all is fear. And COURAGE is the armor for that. Some have a faith in God to help ease their fear, I for one trust in the process of life and death, so you could say I have 'faith' in the nature of things. I do not need to sacrifice my 'self' to the cause of relieving suffering, for the solution rests with all those that suffer. It is about taking responsibility for the conditions and qualities of one's own life. We were born into a world already here, already thriving, already populated, with a history, with suffering, and with joy. I am grateful for my life, suffering and all -- sometimes I feel I could use a 'bailout' but I have faith in life itself. I have been up and I have been down -- and when I have the presence of mind that 'this IS it' I can better endure the challenges before me -- like the Jefferson quote above. I wish the same for you. Go ahead, bring up the poor, the starving, the oppressed -- there will always be those, I know, I have been one of them from time to time. But be watchful of trying to force others to sacrifice some part of themselves, their labors, their earnings (that would otherwiswe support their own life and the lives of their family) for the support of others. YES, compassion is a necessary component of society but as an INDIVIDUAL 'gift,' not a collective 'duty' to be imposed by whatever force one might manage to conceive. If you are to 'save the world,' Robert, you will have to figure out how to inspire people to save themselves, not to prop them up indefinitely at the expense of others. We shall not all cripple ourselves to prop up the crippled. Inspire them, don't be a crutch for them. And by all means chop the root causes of oppression, not hack away at the branches. Respectfully, E Archer.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, I have just finished dinner with friends and I am tired but thought such a beautiful response deserves a reply regardless of the time. Please bear with me and await my retort until tomorrow.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Archer, sorry for the delay getting back to you. As Annais Nin remarked: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Your last response was quite revealing and an insight more into your thinking than I have seen before. I'll try and cover all your points, but they were many. First, here is a Buddha quote which should precede all my comments: "Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world." Yes, you are correct, I do consider myself 'progressive liberal' (a belief in progress not the status quo and the freedom of all people and both having their origins in Rationalism); this begs the question, what is a Progressive Liberal? There are a number of definitions dating back to the Reformation period of the 16th century, and a plethora of great achievements such as women having the right to vote, and stopping child labor. But, this is my favorite and hones in of what I believe is meant by the term: Favoring proposals for reform and open to new ideas for progress, tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others, broad-minded, favors an arts and science education (a holistic education), and the political orientation of those who favor progress toward better conditions in government and society. Progressivism basically came about during the age of enlightenment (throughout the 18th cen.) which supported reform that provided the people with a more active role in their own well being and the administration of the government. What happened in America at the beginning of the century was the progressive movement that allowed workers a voice (brought about by the industrial revolution), after a number of years this initiative was severely damaged and subsequently squashed by conservatives and the wealthy corporations who did not want collective bargaining -- this didn't happen in most of Europe where the trade unions still exist -- an example of this is the way the unions where able to shut down France when the government tried to increase the age of social security. Progressivism believes in progress for the people first, in reforming government to rid it of unnecessary bureaucracy and corruption, a fair voting system, and to improve the quality of our society that benefits all People. Now onto socialism and fascism; I'm not going to dwell long on these two subjects but suffice to say I will provide an abridged version. By the way, I commented on this back in mid-August -- it was a lengthy discourse we had. Socialism had its roots in the working class movement (late 19th cen.) that was being abused by its corporate masters (both by a fair wage and their working conditions). Isn't the means for production (Karl Marx) owned collectively even more so today -- the military, the banks, the housing industry, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, the infrastructure, the educational system, farming hand-outs, our city, county, state, and federal governments, and the list goes on. Nearly 70% of each tax dollar is spent on (socialism) collective resources. And Americans have the nerve to denounce a system they support, either directly or indirectly through their government, there is something terribly wrong here. We even have a stronger socialist program for the wealthy with very small taxes. I believe on average corporations only pay five percent in taxes and many none at all, because they have offshore companies -- the system stinks. Socialism is not new to the 19th century, Plato's Republic and Thomas Moore's Utopia both discussed the subject. Robert Owen was one of the founders of modern socialism and father of the cooperative movement in the early 1800's. John Ball one of the leaders of the peasant's revolt (1381) could be given the title of the first true socialist. But of course we all know that anyone who wanted to free the people from the chains of slavery could be called a socialist -- during the mid 1800's socialism and communism were in conflict and up to today remain so. I am proud to be called a socialist -- I am in GREAT company. Capitalism can only work under a socialist state. Much of the rest of your comment concerned a more atheistic nature; what is good behavior, what is faith, what is freedom, what is liberty, what is suffering, most can be answered by Buddha "The whole secret of existence is to have no fear." Archer, indeed you are nearly there on the road to remove suffering -- here is where we stop because words like suffering are abused and wrongly placed, instead we will revert to the true essence Dukka. To understand Buddha you must first understand the meaning of Dukka, and then all other words become dust to the wind. You use words like "'this isn't it' syndrome" forget these isms and travel into the Self. You come close when talking about self discipline, for self discipline is the staring point of freedom and joy -- there is no desire, desire only takes you away from the truth, away from happiness, and away from freedom. DON'T have faith, you are faith, and it's not something you pull off a shelf or wake up one day and say I have faith. This is why compassion and empathy are the essence of Buddhism: "Believe nothing, merely because you have been told it . . . or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide." What Buddha is saying here is what really matters is your understanding of the situation, the NOW, through your heart, through your goodness; and, if you believe it cling to it and take it as your guide. Lastly, the way to the 'One' is through detachment and meditation -- the first component of Dukka is to live according to universal law (Dharma) that governs both the physical and the moral order of the universe. The second is meditation; this provides an understanding of the true nature of existence. And lastly, WISDOM, this is the realization that everything is transient -- everything is silenced; the ego has gone so as the noise, desires, and clutter of the mind. There is a lasting peace, a lasting feeling of contentment -- no more reward, no more gratification. Your last point about forcing others is as far from my culture than the moon is from the sun. I have always taken the Buddha philosophy where that is concerned (see the above quote). What indeed does the word Upanishad means -- sitting down near -- (the guru) in this respect those incredible Upanishads opened doors to let in the light -- only through enlightenment can there be peace in the mind and body. You mention Zen (good). There is a good book of a collection of talks given in Europe and America called 'The Essence of Zen' by the Zen master Sekkei Harada -- you can buy it for less than $10 on Amazon. I would rather you read this than me telling you second-hand my views with regard to Zen -- move from the small-self to the true SELF. I will look up the Zen tales and the audio files from Alan Watts. Respectfully, RBE
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Thanks, Robert. Good points. As far as philosophy goes, my main point is that no matter how well-intentioned one may be, one's philosophy cannot be compelled upon others by coercion whether individually or collectively through intimidation, decree, or force. It is also known as the separation of church and state, that is to say the prohibition of using state power to enforce a specific religious/philosophical doctrine. You say 'compassion and empathy' and the christians say 'love and charity' -- all well and good. And if that were that, then there wouldn't be any problem. However, philosophy and its EXPRESSION are often at odds with each other -- as you have noted numerous times, there is often a great divide between Christ's teachings and the Christian expression of what those teachings mean. The same is true for Hindus, Muslims, and yes, even Buddhists. It has been my experience that the way of the Self (which is a word hard to define, but I use it because you use it) is an individual path for the individual to 'walk' if you will. It is not a collective march in unison. The Golden Rule is not for others, it is for oneself for its own sake. In the karmic sense, the reason to treat people as you would like to be treated is because 'you will sow what you reap' -- good or bad. And that does not require any human help -- it is the nature of the universe.

    I do take to heart the "Do not believe anything simply because..." quote -- that is in fact my very premise. Buddha follows with "But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." This is what I call a matter of conscience -- the process of reasoning good and evil -- that is dharma -- karma is what you do with it and what happens next because of it. (I think it is funny that you include this quote and then quote Buddha several more times to make your point... ;-)

    When one tries to squeeze what is essentially a philosophy of individual detachment and renunciation into practice for a group or a society, you essentially get a monastery of renunciates meditating peacefully, working 'selflessly' together as an 'order,' until they can one day leave this world once and for all never again to have to bear the burden of 'worldliness' (maybe making a little beer, wine or cheese along the way). We are taught that both Buddha and Jesus were wandering sages without property, producing nothing, living off the 'compassion' and 'charity' of those whom they taught along their path -- of course each are attributed with amazing metaphysical powers, thus not needing anything anyway. This is an INDIVIDUAL path, one of renunciation of the world, surrendering to the Tao or God or equivalent (the One, the Creator, the Way, the Uni-verse, etc.) -- it is a trust, shall we say instead of 'faith,' in the nature of things and impervious to human control. Will the perfect world be one big monastery? 'Fetch wood, carry water' because that is what the head monk says will lead you to enlightenment and the promise of nirvana? I smile, because as an enlightened one, I too once sought long and hard for that which already was -- the only thing left was to realize the cosmic joke -- that is why enlightenment is often referred to as 'self realization' because it is not achieved, it is not bargained for, or acquired through meditation, or through austere acts of penance and self sacrifice -- it is already so. There is no need to fill the hole -- just let go of the hole! ;-) My assertion is that true service, real compassion, comes from a place of wholeness, not from a place of desire or duty or dogma or even philosophy. Then service to others is not a sacrifice, not an obligation, but a gift -- THAT is empathy.

    Mustn't we remember that 'renunciation and detachment' whether from a Buddhist point of view or a Christian point of view is that 'this world' is but an 'illusion' and a kind of prison from which we need to be liberated? While the followers of Buddha or Christ may proscribe different 'means' the 'end' is the 'liberating of oneself' of this material world for nirvana or heaven where we will be one with the truth and light (of course volumes have been written to describe this indescribable state of man). Lao Tse is supposed to have written Tao Te Ching after he attempted to leave the city forever because he was fed up with it -- he was stopped as the legend goes to write down his philosophy before leaving the world so that others might also learn how to liberate themselves.

    Now, well-intentioned zealots have throughout history taken these lessons not to renunciate the world themselves but to make others renunciate the world thus leaving the world in their hands and assuming some sort of god-like power to lead men to salvation while they rise in political stature, wealth and power. That is why Marx referred to religion as the opiate of the masses -- and on that point I can agree, for dogma is not truth, and it is the truth that sets one free. ;-) These zealots also preach 'compassion and empathy,' brotherhood, and equality side-by-side with the power of the state/church, and therefore, giving to the state/church is supposed to be the equivalent to giving to the needy directly. It is not too hard to see so many deluded 'Christians' surrendering their will to 'God' in the form of their minister, and do whatever he/she tells them is God's will. Is it any less apparent with Buddhists, Hindus, or Muslims?

    I have practiced various forms of meditation, visualization, and prayer since the 70s -- I won't go into all of it, but suffice it to say that I find that quieting the mind for 15-30 minutes a couple times a day helps keep me grounded, calm and less easily distracted or disturbed by external circumstances. I would recommend it to anyone who has the inclination.

    I do believe that Liberation is a constant process, but I do not call it progressive liberalism. Your references to 'progressive' liberalism in the 16th century have been historically called 'classic liberalism' to describe the intentions and actions by people trying to free themselves from the binds of their feudal lords, the church, and the hierarchy of servitude to monarchy -- that is not socialism but the cause of Liberty (classic liberalism). From my "observation and analysis" (as Buddha says) progressive liberalism -- as stated by the Progressive Caucus, for example -- is NOT about individual liberty and self determination, but about collectivism, about serving the state, about compulsion to support the 'compassionate' plans of its leaders, about regulating the lives of the people by decree, about taxing one's labors and property, about dependency. Now you say what's the big deal, America is about as socialistic as can be -- I agree but I do not approve! Socialism is NOT progress or even prosperity -- it is CONTROL and it is about collective POWER -- that might makes right, and that the needs of the many (as THEY define them) outweigh the needs of the few. It is about monopoly. The people who bankrupted the country to the banking elite were 'progressive liberals.' The people who brought us the Federal Reserve were progressive liberals. The people who have laden the country with perpetual debt are progressive liberals. The people who have created the trade unions that have effectively monopolized industry, education, transportation, communications, and energy were/are progressive liberals. ALL are designed to create mini empires and secure to themselves power and money -- they do not care about individual rights, they care about cornering the market and keeping it forever. It is about POWER pure and simple.

    Now what are the ideals of a progressive liberal? Peace, safety, equality, education, food, labor, housing, health care -- right? Lofty ideals -- they are however the same intents of a prison warden. Where is the trust in the Tao? Where is the detachment and renunciation? Where is the liberation? Where does the responsibility lie -- with the individual or with the state? The classic liberal cares, too, about all these things BUT recognizes that it is his responsibility for these things for his own survival and happiness -- and that when left unimpeded with the right of conscience and the right of ownership of his body, his property, his labors and the fruits thereof he can prosper and deserves to reap the benefits of that prosperity. This is primarily an agrarian way of life without which the great cities would starve. What is the 'end' of progressive liberalism? A roof over everyone's head, 3 square meals a day, a job throughout one's life, a modest income to support his basic needs, the rest to be given to the state for all that everyone depends upon, free medical care which is to be a public service, free education for which all will be trained to live in such a society, no wars as there is but one beneficent government ruling the world, and perpetual security because no individual will have more power than another and all merely want the others to be happy. Have I got that right? ;-) They call it progressive because there is in fact no end only a means to a never ending promise of a future utopia. That is why it is said that socialism is but the means to communism. And we all know why communism doesn't work don't we? Perhaps not, for if you can get everyone to 'detach' themselves, fetch wood, carry water, and live an 'ordered' life who would ever want anything else? ME that's who!! ;-) And I am not alone either. I do not want your brave new world, and I won't be relegated to some far away island by the powers-that-be so that I won't stir up the 'order' of progressive servitude. I am not an animal to be domesticated like a beast of burden. I am not to be controlled. I am not to be 'secured.' I am not to be 'taken care of.' And may I remind you that America is the only country that I am aware of that stands on the principle that the government is the servant of the people, not the other way around. No European country has ever managed to establish that, and socialism is in complete opposition to the principles of freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. Your friend,
     -- E Archer, NYC     

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    Bedtime (and a book or two) - continue tomorrow
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Archer, please have patience, I have been away and just getting over the damn flu. I really do promise to have a response by tomorrow. Your friend,
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Archer, at last I found my desk - please do not take my words to heart because I know you are a good fellow and have done much for your fellow beings - any personal statements take with a pinch of salt.

    You too have made some very good points - so we continue. First, let me say that much of our respective comments are over semantics, so for the sake of brevity I have take points where I feel there is direct conflict, or not so harshly, where there is a difference of opinion.

    Point 1. The separation of church and state (not philosophical thought): Though this was first mention by Thomas Jefferson the Supreme Court, since 1947, interpreted this to mean "religion and government must stay separate for the benefit of both, including the idea that the government must not impose religion on Americans nor create any law requiring it." Please tell me where they use the word 'Philosophical'. Not once have I mentioned the state to enforce any religion or philosophical doctrine. By the way, Buddhism is not a religion or a doctrine. Your remark that philosophy and its expression are often at odds with each other is a non-sequitur as philosophy is just a love of knowledge and a seeker for truth, it has nothing to do with the how individuals, including Spinoza, express their opinions.

    Point 2. In your same paragraph you mention SELF, please let me enlighten you on the Buddhist interpretation of (great) SELF; though this topic is one of the hardest to understand it is central to the Buddhist way. First, it is not a physical or spiritual state - It is the way to enlightenment. The five Skandhas, let's call them buckets; form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, with regard to SELF are all empty. This SELF, the Atman, has nothing to do with the buckets with regard to self-improvement, self-esteem, and all the other individual "self's", etc. etc. those are all ego and actions. The SELF as taught by Buddhism is absolute, meaning it is empty of all thought and action and nothing can effect it. SELF is the most inner and ultimate state - it is the Universe, where there is no ego, no conflict, no me, and no suffering; conflict is what keeps us from enlightenment. Once you have reached Nirvana you are one with SELF (the Dhammakaya movement). The key here is that the state of SELF is difficult to understand and therefore even more difficult to explain. Even in the East there are two primary schools of thought on the subject of SELF. I believe the major difference between the Abrahamic religions and Buddhism is very simple; Abrahamic religions are judgmental, fearful, and need an intermediary where as Buddhist tradition is non-judgmental and all about self-attainment. Zen-Buddhism has a similar teaching with regard to the true SELF - a self without limits, invisible. The wonderful thing about Buddhism is that it doesn't tell you how to behave, it enlightens you, and the decision as to what path you take is yours. Ok, that's enough about Buddha, let's move on.

    Point 3. Detachment - non-clinging: This is really very simple; first Detachment is NOT a philosophy it is the same as saying truth, love, honesty, attachment, they are all components within a particular philosophy but not a philosophy in itself. Detachment in this sense and this use is meant physically and mentally from materialism, ego, conflict, avarice, and so on. And, the last thing it could be associated with is a monastery with regard to it being an instrument for renunciation and a means to a world after death. Detachment is very much an action of the 'Now' of the 'Is'; in that sense it has power, otherwise, it is as dead as a door nail. Buddha was not a wondering sage, far from it, and he most definitely didn't want for anything. As far as producing nothing, it couldn't be further from the truth; the enlightenment and knowledge past onto his disciples was worth mountains of gold, if that's what you mean by producing. Buddha didn't need to live of the compassion and charity of others - he is compassion, he is charity. You summed it up perfectly when you said "metaphysical powers, thus not needing anything anyway." Buddha had no need to surrender to himself - when you are One you are One with everything.

    Your third paragraph is full of enlightened truths and none more so than "it is already so." Empathy is rooted in compassion and is most pure through a total state of detachment. The greatest freedom of all is through detachment. Once mastered the chattels that tie you to Materialism vanish as if they were never there. Ego, conflict, avarice, and anger have gone. Suddenly, there is no need for compromise or Flexibility, they are no longer a decision.

    As Socrates said "He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature." And in Zen it is the center of your being. Unfortunately, when reading the writings and thoughts of Buddha they can easily be taken out of context; for instance, when mentioning the word detachment it can so easily be mistaken for selfishness or a lack of concern for others, aloofness, and physically withdrawing, and compassion, on the other hand, for passiveness and inwardness. When reading Buddha Detachment and Compassion must be read in full context of the subject matter, otherwise, the reader may misinterpret the message. A layman sense was put well by Joseph Goldstein "This (compassion) isn't self-pity or pity for others. It's really feeling one's own pain and recognizing the pain of others. Seeing the web of suffering we're all entangled in, we become kind and compassionate to one another." And, this from Global Oneness, "According to Sri Aurobindo , when one withdraws from the turmoil of outer life, the evolving consciousness becomes centered and observant like a detached witness or sakshi . The witness state, sakshi bhav , is a continual disassociation from worldly desires and sense-identification. It is a state of neutrality that goes beyond body and mind to communicate with the spirit."

    Point 4. Detachment is not renunciation, it is a state of self realization for another way. No, no, no, the world is not the illusion to escape from, it is our concept of the world which we need to be liberated from. Yes, we need to be liberated from the chattels of materialism and the swirling thoughts that keep us imprisoned. Each can attain this state, and each has the ability to experienced the power that liberates you from this world. The primary vehicle for this is meditation, through mediation you are more able to reach a state of freeing the conscience which is essential when communing with the SELF- It's the search for the supreme consciousness. The Tao Te Ching was written about the same time as Buddha and provides the basis for Taoism. It's primary message is that there is one individual truth at the root of all things.

    Point 5. "Opiate of the masses," yes, perfect, we agree on that which is good. Wow! "and it is the truth that sets one free" we may be the only two that know that (lol). Yes, indeed they preach empathy and compassion and yet do not practice what they preach, just look at what recently occurred with Paladino who basically said that children must be kept away from gays and that they are dysfunctional - what a hypocrite watching pawn of the most debauched nature, has two families, and fathered a kid out of wedlock. This is only one example of hundreds that these zealots are responsible for. There are over a million children abused every year in America and 99.9% from a family setting. It has been documented that Gays who adopt children are the most cared for and well looked after than traditional adoptions.

    As for the religious zealots, as you said, who preach "compassion and empathy" from the liturgical corridors of the faux news media and Sunday get-togethers, who then institutionalize their corrupt rhetoric in the halls of the America political machine. Archer, yes, very much less apparent (re; Buddhism) to the point of non-existence. Please inform me if you know of a source I could check if you feel I am mistaken.

    Point 6. Meditation: I am very impressed that you spend 15-30 minutes twice a day in mediation, excellent. Even some of my most ardent Buddhist friends don't spend that much time mediation - well done.

    Point 7. Liberation: This is a continued discussion with regard to classical liberalism and modern liberalism, my stand has always been Liberalism has never changed its primary goals - I think I provided evidence of this in on an earlier post. So, for want of repeating my self here it is again from the May blog: "First, let's do away with your immediate mistake of trying to classify Liberalism into any category your agenda desires - liberalism is not to be confused with socialism, conservatism, or progressivism - if anyone co-opted liberalism it was libertarians. From the early references to Liberalism, and Mises attempt to reinvent the wheel (laissez-faire liberalism), to today's understanding (by intellectuals), the core definition of liberalism remains the same. Many of the liberal ideals are similar to libertarians but for one major difference; social and welfare programs. Liberals believe in limited government; the people's right for freedom and happiness; freedom without recourse to believe in anything you wish, whether it be an almighty being, a God, or none at all; to have the right of assembly and the free representation of workers through unions (though a number of union organizations have been corrupted through greed and power at the beginning of the century). Many of the libertarian ideals have gotten us into this present mess such as free-trade, the deregulation of industry and the banking system (laissez-faire economics). In actual fact the republicans and the conservatives (on the right) have done as much for the liberal causes as the democratic party - the liberals won the twentieth century and yet only had a total of 19 years in power. Lastly on this point here are two definitions one from the start of Liberalsim and the other from today's Webster Dictionary: first; Half way into the 19th century Liberalism was defined (Webster's dictionary): One who advocates greater freedom from restraint; as a free heart; open and candid; munificent; not selfish, narrow or contracted; someone who embraces other interests than his own; embracing literature and science; depended more on the exertions of the mind rather than the playing fields. A liberal education is generally arts and science based - a long way from the present system of providing cannon fodder. And at the end of the 19th century liberalism was define (Webster's 1898 addition): One who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters, an opponent of the establish systems; a reformer. Someone that considers all arguments without being either dogmatic or rigid of opinion (flexibility is the key here). And I love this one: A spirit that goes out of self, and finds its enjoyment in consulting the feelings and happiness of others. In other words a liberal is someone who believes in free opinion, equality, liberty, freedom, and someone who is generous and believes in the positive rewards of the arts and science. Lastly; Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1996 (Random House edition) defines liberalism as based on the ideals of the individual; free, generous and open handed, and of fair mind; one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms of ways. Archer, you call this classical liberalism, well, to a point you are correct, but what you sadly leave out of the equation is that these classical liberal traits are still the main core of what liberalism is today. As I have said before, I am Liberal and proud of it - there are a number of topics within the Liberal ideology that I disagree with, but not with its core principles. By the way, the English Oxford Dictionary is very much of the same definitions as above. For the last 150 years Liberalism has not change its definition. In actual fact the 1996 definition is closer to the 1893 definition than the later definitions. The key for you to understand this is to go back even further to how the word Liberal came about. Liberal late 14th c., from old French meaning 'benefitting free men from the Latin word liber meaning "free." So, even from its very birth the definition of Liberalism has not change one bit.

    To say that the goals of a progressive liberal are the same as a prison warden is preposterous - where do you come up with such analogies? There is no connection whatsoever. I'm sorry Archer but that is not you. An agrarian way of life: yes, but the farmer needs roads, needs hospitals, needs, a market and million others things - is he responsible for providing those things of course not he shares those responsibilities. By the way an agrarian way is equal distributing land and I doubt very much if that's what you were referring to. Honestly, Archer your litany of things which a progressive liberal person would agree are ludicrous because they lack individual compassion and charity, instead you lump everyone together in some massive organization where there is no room for individualism - how wrong you are. You can still have many of the things you described under a progressive liberal without the need to have a totalitarian gamekeeper. Progressive liberalism stands for unalienable rights of the individual not their lack thereof. As our friend so well pointed out the word Liberal has its primary root in 'FREE' and a separation of church and state. I think equally rights for all Americans, the protection of the environment, a fair wage for a fair days work, Education for all children, health care for anyone who is in the confines of our sovereign state, a transportation infrastructure, shelter and food for those who have fallen on hard times, This is where criticism is unfounded with regard to classical and modern liberalism being different - the meaning of honesty, freedom, truth, trust, loyalty and so on are the same today as they were in the objective form a thousand years ago and same principle applies to Liberalism. It's politician's and those wishing to criticize and demean the historical meaning of liberalism by using their own interpretation that changes the meaning. Progressive means forward thinking, it also has a connotation of the word action which is an important aspect of progressivism, and actually getting off your ass and doing something about a situation which benefits those who are unable to voice their opinions or discontent. Classical means historically and the last thing Liberalism is is historic it means NOW today. I disagree with many academics on this issue and my comment here is only a very small version of my argument. To wrap this up, I think the primary problem with the definition of Liberalism is that the US and Europe have different views and interpretation on the meaning. It may be more correct to say American Liberalism and European liberalism and make the distinction there.

    Your last point with regard to 'socialism is a means to communism' is misleading as suffice to say many intellectuals disagree with this statement, including me. So, I will not bore you with my argument. I suppose you are calling the state of Israel communists as they believe in the system of the Kibbutz where sharing is very much their philosophy - a form of collective community like socialism. I think before people who banter words about, like socialism, liberalism, communism, conservatism, libertarianism, should have a true understanding of their history before applying their own definitions. Unfortunately the medium of misinformation is rampant in the US, and understanding these primary socialistic meanings is misinterpreted, misrepresented, and often skewed by corporate propaganda who owns most of the news channels. Again you really make me laugh when you use progress and servitude in the same sentence, THEY ARE TOTALLY IN OPPOSITION TO EACH OTHER - where do you get this stuff from - you are far more intelligent than that - you must do it just to get me going. Now you are the one to say "I am not an animal to be domesticated like a beast of burden" - what a terrible implication you make. "I'm not to be controlled. I am not to be secured" - of course you are controlled and secured, just try stepping out of line in the US (and its getting worse under the teabaggers, the christofascists and right-wing fanatics) and you will either be tasered, put in prison, your house taken away, your car and stuff confiscated, and the list goes on. If you are destitute and have fallen on bad times of course I want a system to take care of you - hopefully that will never happen. Your friend, Robert

    P.S. I don't see the people of America rioting in the streets because the government is not servant to the people where are their $%(*. In France they did and are doing so this very day. I'm sorry Sir, your interpretation of socialism has been totally skewed by your reading matter. Again, your friend, Robert
     -- RBESRQ     

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