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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
58 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 2 made uncomfortable by it, you’ve got a cultural problem and that’s what you need to address. BUDDHADHARMA: Say a fellow sangha member associates the Buddhist principle of bodhichitta with voting for a particular candidate or party. Is that appropriate? DAVID LOY: I don’t see this issue as significantly different from whether to take a banner to a street demonstration. Ultimately, it’s up to the members to decide what kind of boundaries they want to set around their political action. JOAN SUTHERLAND: Saying that supporting a candidate is an expression of my bodhichitta is one thing, but saying that it is therefore also an expression of everybody’s bodhichitta is a cultural problem. MUSHIM IKEDA: Such a person can always go on Facebook, where they’re with a group of like-minded people and can organize to their heart’s delight and discuss the bodhichitta- ness of any particular action. You can always find a way to organize and be politically active that’s culturally appropriate, and therefore more effective. BUDDHADHARMA: The prevalence of anger in politics scares a lot of Buddhists. How do you suggest that people work with that anger? DAVID LOY: Fundamentally, anger is a kind of energy, and the issue is whether we understand this energy and how to use it wisely. If it’s understood in a dualistic way, the self-righ- teousness of an ego that’s attacking somebody else, it’s very dangerous. But one could also understand anger within the larger context of love. Can we have a politics based not on anger but on love? That, of course, fits in well with the Bud- dhist emphasis on compassion and nonduality, and realizing that we’re not separate from other people. But there is still a role for the energy that gets expressed as anger, such as when people who should be held in a loving situation are being abused or taken advantage of. Although we in the Occupy movement may be saying, “We are the 99 percent,” it’s not We do need Buddhist theory and goals to guide us, but people’s motivation for political engagement is in direct correlation to their economic security and access to societal resources. —Mushim Ikeda PHOTO SASHA Y. KIMEL