Have you ever heard the phrase, “to live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance“? It is a quote taken from a Japanese Buddhist book, The Teaching of Buddha. While the English translation of the Indian quote may not be as perfect as we would like to, it highlights a valid philosophical argument.
According to ancient Pali documents used by both the Japanese and the British (The Royal Archaeological Institute), Buddhist Philosophy have a strong belief in moderating desires. If you were to dig deep and read some of those articles, you will find that Buddhists have covered a wide range of human behaviors from sexual, wealth, prosperity to social and government planing. Regardless of who said what, the dreadful results are obvious when we choose one extreme end or the other. In fact numerous academics have argued that Buddhism is more powerful than a religion, hence it should be considered as a Philosophy not a Religion. (1)
Problem with Having
We love this and that. We love to live and we love to get overboard with things that make us happy. Obviously we basic needs are impotent, in order to be happy. Access to food, shelter, a good education and even wealth. The problem is not having, but having none or having too much of it. Imagine you chase wealth, would you still be a good member of the society? I have met a lot of rich people, specially sons and daughters of the rich and powerful, at conferences and school. While they do their best to “be nice” to others, the hidden extremism comes out once in awhile. Same can be said about an extremely poor person, except that person’s view would be the extreme opposite of the other. I find it ironic that people who tend to move away from one extreme, often end up at the other extreme end of the spectrum.
There are many real life examples of extremism, both good and bad. In the political arena, I came across White Supremacists who turned against their racially polarized views. But the problem is that they turned into extremist human rights activists. NGOs like Amnesty International (AI) do their best to recruit the former members of racist organizations. I honestly do not see a difference between the KKK and the AI because both groups trying to force down their own agendas on others. This is why to some degree I agree with those who claim that they feel like second class citizens in their native country because of extremist multiculturalism.
Another type of political extremism is the one that intermingle with money. The CIA operatives in developing world, buy out political, religious, military and NGO leaders to promote fascist US/Western favorable governments. In May 2009, Sri Lankan terrorist organization, LTTE was defeated by the Government Forces. While the LTTE is reorganized as terrorist organization in the West, the USA and their allies hated the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GoSL) policies towards the West. So, instead of supporting GoSL, they decided to sing the human rights song at the UN along with the NGOs. When that failed, the CIA may have paid several political and military leaders to destabilize the government. The best example of this is General Sarath Fonseka (DNA Party). He was probably the only high ranking military officer that received support from the West, because after the war, he wanted to run against the ruling party. Not only CIA may have paid him, the Western media was highly controlled in the way they report anything to do with Sri Lanka. While the West yells “media freedom” at Sri Lankans, the entire Western media is instructed NOT to use “terrorist” when describing LTTE. Why? Because USA and their thugs went from one extreme end of supporting all terrorists to attack USSR, India, etc to not supporting them at all to now support any terrorist organization if it benefits the “Christian West” (Like any other extremist policies, not all Christians support this; not labeling anyone!).
The point is extremism anything can hurt human civilization. Even if it means human rights, we should be careful of what we desire. I strongly believe that human rights organizations (“good guys”) have done more damage to human rights than any other group. In some cases as extreme as Red Cross handing over intelligence on military to criminals have lead to deaths of hundreds of officers. Too bad the extremist media behind a smoke screen don’t publish such things in the West.
Capitalists verses Environment
This is also true for Environmentalists. The other extreme end of Capitalism is no longer the Socialism, but rather Environmentalism. In the name of environment, not only we have terrorist organizations, but also scientists who willing to fight to death for whatever the reason. One side demands vigorous environment protection and the other side demands far too relaxed regulations on the environment. Too much of regulations will lead to job loss while too little of regulations will lead to decline of civilization. Even with regulations in place, I think most of our “environmentally friendly” products are nothing more than a smoke screen to feel good. It takes more energy to create “environmentally friendly” hydrogen fuel than to produce conventional fuel. How many of you heard that majority of hydrogen fuel in North America created using coal burning? The solution itself is a problem isn’t it? None of the Conservative and Liberals ever promoted the moderation of environment regulations. If we as people to advance our civilization, we should promote more neutral usage of natural resources rather than over using them and/or completely stop using them.
Religion verses Atheism
The definition of “irony” can’t get any better than this! I consider myself an atheist, but I do not want to associate myself with any atheist organizations. Why do you ask? The Internet is full of hate towards each other. Let’s face it… Most Atheists are young and technologically savvy people. This is why I am not surprised that the debate between the religious groups and the atheist have gone overboard on the Internet. Specially the American atheists argue that they have the right to be critical of all religions because religions are critical of critical thinking like science. To me, this is like saying “you kill my family and I am going to kill yours”. What makes Atheists any better than the groups they are fighting against? Atheism has went from having a no beliefs or agendas to a highly unpredictable extremism. Instead of calling religions cults and joining the atheist cult, I rather be a peaceful person by observing my own values personally.
Without religious, cultural or political prejudice, it is very clear to me that “the midst of abundance” is the best approach to life. To sustain a meaningful and happy life, we should always avoid one extreme ends. Even Buddhism at extreme can lead to suffering. In other words, the Indian Buddha, was right!
1. “Kill the Buddha,” says the old koan. “Kill Buddhism,” says Sam Harris,