I’ve made the statement that if the Ancestors wanted Zen mixed with politics they would have written about it. This blog was started because of what I perceived as the overabundance of American Zen teachers using their status as Zen teachers to discuss politics. That takes them right out of the Middle Way and Don’t Know.
Now, an argument could be made that Don’t Know is only in regards to the Ultimate, and not our Relative truth. I don’t buy that. I don’t know if I’m right and the Left is wrong about the need for stronger controls on illegal immigration. I don’t know if I’m right and the Right is wrong about the death penalty being a bad thing. I leave room. And that room has allowed me to respect other’s opinions and sometimes change my own –I used to be a card-carrying NRA member. Now I’m for stricter gun control.
But at the height of the 2016 election a lot of American Buddhist, and especially Zen teachers didn’t seem to be leaving a much room. They knew. Their cup was full. There were exceptions. One teacher that I engaged with during this time, Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler over at No Zen In The West, did not have his cup full. He listened and kept an open mind. I’m not sure he changed his mind about anything, and that’s fine. But he didn’t automatically dismiss anyone because they held different views. And then there’s Brad Warner. He often played devil’s advocate with his own views. But he tried his best to stay out of the debate as much as he could. Bodhidharma would’ve been proud.
So, here’s Brad’s latest on Zen and politics. Per usual, someone else has more eloquently stated my opinion for me.