Buddhism and Politics: Applying the First Precept

Buddhism and Politics: Applying the First Precept November 7, 2016

A guest post by Andy Lambert

Ah, the 2016 election….

This has been a huge (or should I say YUUGE?) test of metta. Loving Kindness meditation is an important Buddhist Practice. Those of us who have spent some time in various forms of practice understand that this can be a very difficult practice in the best of times. In times such as these, it can be damned near impossible. We must cultivate compassion for all living beings, even those that we have a hard time even stomaching the site of. One of my teachers would often use Hitler as the visualization for those whom society has deemed as monsters or inhuman. It’s important to remember that this is not the case. The worst members of our race are still indisputably one of us. Hitler was reportedly nice to his dogs and at least one person, Eva Braun, loved him, presumably.

My politics have been informed by the first Precept. I undertake the training to avoid harm. I don’t interpret this as denotatively as some Buddhists, in that I see it as more akin to the Wiccan Rede:  Do what you will, so long as it harms none. It can also be related to the Golden Rule in Christianity. I believe our choices should be weighed against the minimum amount of harm your vote for a particular candidate would cause or, even better, the maximum amount of good.

With this in mind: I see no vote in this particular Presidential election other than for Hilary Clinton. I may not be a big fan of hers, but applying the principle of the First Precept she certainly is the candidate on the lowest probable harm chart, based on campaign promises and legislative history, and the greatest possible good. I have enjoyed reading the hypothetical match-ups. I voted for Bernie in the primary. I have supported him for years. I identify as a Democratic Socialist. Even so, I urge you to vote for Hilary Clinton. The more decisive this election it is the better. We need a resounding rejection of the kind of small-minded authoritarian rule that Trump says he supports.

IMG_20161103_071900Andy Lambert is Unitarian Universalist with a background in Soto Zen Practice. He originally took refuge and Bodhisattva Vows in the Taiwanese Mahayana Buddhist Tradition. Andy has written for the several blogs over the years including Bayou City Buddhist and the Bayou Buddhists Blog at Houston Belief, the Houston Chronicle’s Belief Portal. He currently blogs about Religion, Politics, and Life in general at A Turnip Looks at Life.

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