A letter to author of ‘Mindful Politics’

29Aug07

Following is the peice wrote sometime back a letter was written by Atrcoitynews Columnist  to the author of the paper ‘ Mindfil Politics’. This question is still challenging  as “what’s that got to do with you and me and the situation that we find ourselves today?”. Imposing our views on others is not proper method and therefore we all must individually think, speak and act to realise the democratic goals that Dr Ambedkal set for billions. Talking about goal will also be too pompous, but examining our lives deeply and really whether we are treading the path he has shown.

(No color, all colors by Gaylon Ferguson in Mindful Politics, published by Wisdom Publications)

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This is the end of one of the papers that figure in the book titled as ” Mindful Politics”. This is in my opinion, time to continue dialogue about Dr. Ambedkar. The silence in the Buddhist circle of America about Dr. Ambedkar is not only surprising but also mind boggling given the fact that great intellectual of America, W.E.B . Du Bois was aware of this great man in their common fight against the discrimination. The reason can be attributed to lack of information about his life and mission and also to “conspiracy of silence” over his great work and mission. This is surprising though there has been interaction between those lived in India and communicated with American Buddhists regularly.

mind politics
Pic01: Mind Colors

He was born in the untouchable class in India in 1891. He was a highly educated person. Modern world has perhaps not seen such a man of accomplishment in the field of knowledge. He studied in Columbia University and London School of Economics. He came back to India to serve millions of his people who were treated less than human beings by the Hindu caste system. Though he was trained in pragmatist and humanistic values of the west, all his life, he used the Buddhist methods to counter discrimination and promote democratic values in Indian society. His relentless struggle of 40 years which was based on methods that the Buddha used led to great awakening among his followers. He is the most important personality in Modern India, surpassing popularity of Gandhi, who is known to the western world as a messiah of peace. In fact, Dr. Ambedkar criticised Gandhi’s attitude of patronising the untouchables and supporting the Hindu caste system.

Dr. Ambedkar was well ahead of his time and also aware of important developments in Buddhism all over the world including America. Buddhism died in India in 1400 AD, partly due to Muslim Invasion and partly due to Bramhanical sabotage of the message of equality of the Buddha. There was a dark period. Dr. Ambedkar brought Buddhism back in India, formally in 1956. However he was living Buddhism since he came in contact with the personality of the Buddha when he was young. He not only brought Buddhism in India, but also demonstrated how Buddhism can be used to solve human problems. In 1941, when India was still a British colony, Dr. Ambedkar pointed out to the path of Buddha. Only Buddha can promote the democracy in India, he said.

If we follow his footsteps, we can see clearly that it was nothing but Buddhism in action. In his numerous speeches and writings, we can find reference to Buddhism. One of his important statement as early as 1927 is that lasting progress can only be achieved by purification of body, speech and mind. This is the traditional way of expressing the Buddha’s path to enlighetned societies. He gave the concept of enlightened society even before the modern Buddhists started talking about it. In fact he named one of his news papers as ” Enlightened India”.

Study of his life and mission is a must for the Buddhists who are aspiring to transform the world. He was educated in the west and embodied the best of western thinking. This is reflected in his pragmatic and humanistic attitude, but he found a complete path in the Buddha’s teaching, which can transform minds and societies. He clearly knew that there is no individual liberation, the freedom of human beings depend on free societies and free structures. The human minds are capable of training on the higher levels, but the context will always be social. There is no liberation of individual mind without having it trained in working for the welfare of the humanity.

He therefore commented: The Dhamma is social, its fundamentally social. The same message is echoed in the philosophical traditions of America when the process philosophers talk of reality having social content. He just did not talk about ” Mindful politics”, but he demonstrated the possibility of it in India. His life and mission is an unfolding of Buddha’s vision. Words dont cook the rice and mindful politics can’t be reality if we dont live it. For the humanity, the role model is Dr. Ambedkar who lived not only mindful politics, but also economics, social transformation and above all “individual” who was free from entrapments in the fancy words and imageries, without action. It is worth noting that Dr. Ambedkar drafted the constitution of India in 1950, which can be looked at as the “Buddhist constitution”. He gave very deep and spiritual meaning to the enlightenment values of liberty, equality and fraternity. He affirmed that though legal changes are important, more important is to train human minds in liberty, equality and fraternity. There is so much in life and literature that humanity can be raised to the higher plane of existence, if it is practicised.

Source: BuddistCircle



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