Friday, November 18, 2005

The TAO of Ambedkarite Buddhism-1

I see reality almost clearly as it really is and as it can be. I have a fair understanding of the laws of cause and effect and the role of the human mind in shaping personal, social and environmental destiny. I am a reasonably well-read, self-aware balanced individual. I have some insight into what constitutes a good human life and am quite at peace with myself as I am and the universe as it is. I am constantly trying to get rid of the bad qualities in me and to improve the good qualities in me. My thoughts have grown out of me like branches, leaves and flowers grow out of trees. As I have purified myself and continue to purify myself, my thoughts have changed and continue to change. These thoughts drive my speech and my actions.

In these pages, I seek to communicate some of my understanding of the theory and practice of the true path I consciously chose, follow and which has benefitted me immensely.

I said true path just like the chinese Tao. To me the true path is a statement of a true way of life. There may be only one true way of life or there may be many true ways of life. I see debate about whether there is one or more true ways as less important than walking on any one way. The true way of life is difficult to communicate and train someone in, since it is not codifiable enough to communicate. Such tacit knowledge and skill is useful and needs to be learnt, but they are difficult to teach. So the best that a teacher can do is to show the path and provide motivation for walking on the path. The learner has to struggle and learn the path.

The path is found by pioneers. Organized religion is a social attempt to sustain the knowledge of this true way of life found by pioneers of a particular community through codification in theories and motivation/communication to further generations through books and speeches and through providing role models in the form of a priest/bhikku-like sangha. In this sense organised religions are human attempts to create composite sustainable repository of the knowledge of the true path. I follow Ambedkarite Buddhism, but I am not specifically for or against any organized religion. Different people may find different organized religions (in the above sense) easier to understand and follow. Buddhism was a statement of a true way of life, which got codified and led to the formulation of an organized religion. Unfortunately like all compound realities, organized religions over time either hide the true way of life behind ritual and beliefs thereby obscuring its visible value to living individuals or totally lose the true way of life through incremental misunderstandings. Today there are so many versions of Buddhism, that it has become difficult to discern which is the right way. If there is a true way of life or if there are multiple true ways of life, then they are the common property of humanity.

Any partitioned true way of life which claims different means and ends for each partition of humanity and offers unverifiable reconciliation of the means and ends of the partitions is likely to be a less useful way of life, because the world is so interconnected and changes so continuously that the partitions on which such ways of life are organized may change dramatically in small periods of time. Such partitioned true ways of life may be aimed to justify partitions of humanity through creation/sustenance of beliefs and practices over time to meet selfish goals of individuals and communities. In India the common example is the case of the dalit community, which is structurally (through beliefs and practices) oppressed with religious sanction. A similar attempt was made by Nazis agains jews.

While it may be best that humans switch to religions which do not advocate partitioned true ways of life, those who choose not to do so must atleast remain constantly mindful that their religion is not used by selfish individuals and communities to justify creation and sustenance of structures of exploitation, violence and violation separating partitions of humanity. Else one day they may find themselves party to direct or indirect crimes against humanity itself.

This said, I will hereon refrain from speaking anything outside Ambedkarite buddhism unless I explicitly write a separate heading.
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