[Buddha-l] Re: One Buddhist's perspective on Zionism

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Sat May 21 17:54:28 MDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-05-21 at 19:07 -0400, Dan Lusthaus wrote:

> I am no expert on Buddhist Socialism, and am not even sure it refers to a
> single phenomenon. Perhaps others can flesh this out a bit. 

A place to start might be Russell F. Sizemore and Donald K. Swearer, ed.
<i>Ethics, Wealth and Salvation: A Study in Buddhist Social Ethics.</i>
(University of South Carolina Press, 1990). It has been quite a while
since I read through that volume, and I can't recall how much there is
on Bhikkhu Buddhadasa, many of whose essays Swearer published in 1989 in
the book <i>Me and Mine: Selected Essays of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa.</i>
Buddhadasa argued that socialism is the most natural expression of
Buddhist social theories. Needless to say, as a Buddhist, Buddhadasa
renounced the violent revolutionary aspects of the various flavors of
Marxism, but he seems to have felt that the basic Marxist goal of a
classless society without private property is, of all social systems now
available on earth, the most consistent with the Buddha's teachings as
found in the Pali canon. Charles Hallisey has written interesting
critiques of Buddhadasa's positions.

By the way, how many of you recall reading Ernst Benz's classic
<i>Buddhism or communism: which holds the future of Asia?</i> back in
the now-legendary 1960s? At the time I recall that book having a big
impact on my thinking. But so did Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan,
for pity sakes. Vonnegut now seems hopelessly puerile (which is not
really a criticism, since I happen to like hopeless puerility), and
Brautigan now seems hopelessly dead (success at suicide does that to
people). I wonder how Ernst Benz would now seem to my senescent
mentality. Maybe I'll go blow the dust of the copy in the library and
reread it.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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