Buddhism and Political Theory

Discussion in 'Political Theory & Philosophy' started by Bast, 30 January 2019.

  1. Bast

    Bast Member Sustaining Member

    There's an Oxford Press tome out there by the name. Now I don't know anything substantial about Buddhism, but I know its more of a philosophy than religion. What are the must-read scriptures or histories on political buddhism? What's New Age, what's radical? Do I need to start from the beginning and reread The Dao De Ching, or is there a good entry level book? Or maybe you've read this book, and you can comment regarding buddhism in politics. I'll have questions if you know something.
  2. Azaeroe

    Azaeroe Senior Member

    Surely the basis of Buddhism is Vedanta, not the Dao.
  3. Praetor

    Praetor Senior Member

    Despite the prevalence of left-wing politics and social justice discourse in so-called Western Buddhism, Buddhism is quite normative when it comes to politics and social engagement. The following short sutras/suttas make this quite clear:


    This page has some further details: https://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/229.htm

    For a slightly later take, Nagarjuna's famous Letter to a Friend is worth examining. Here are two translations with commentary:

    All of these texts are quite short and are worth examining carefully.
  4. Manu

    Manu Señor Member Sustaining Member
    1. Norden
    2. Knights of the Iron Cross

    The Tipitaka is what you are after.

    If you are martially inclined, also take a look at The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Sōhō. I have been into Zen for a long time now, but that one is really brilliant.
  5. Praetor

    Praetor Senior Member

    Well, now that is a tall order: the Tipitaka in its English translation consists of 57 volumes, most of which have little or nothing to do with the subject mentioned in the first post.

    For a condensation of those parts of the Buddhist canon applicable to lay people, the volume "The Buddha's Teachings on Prosperity" is very good.
  6. Bast

    Bast Member Sustaining Member

    Thanks all. Buddhism is new to me, I wouldn't know where to begin. I know Beach Boys Buddhists were a dime a dozen for years, but instead of maturing after crossing the Pacific, buddhism became really retarded.
  7. Praetor

    Praetor Senior Member

    My advice would be to go straight to the original texts - they are short and relatively easy to read. Naturally there is a lot to think about.
    Then, you could consult some of the more Buddhist-oriented secondary works such as the one I listed above.

    Finally, if you take a deeper interest in the subject, you could look at more academic works on the political implications of Buddhist teachings, and how they may have been applied historically. There are quite a few works on related topics, but without an understanding of the tenets of Buddhism, reading these won't be of much use.
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