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America: Whither Now? Politics, the Buddha, and the People
What's missing from our politics is a deep concern for the people.
The welfare of the people is way down on the agenda of politicians. Money rules. Influence rules.
Our politicians today, with few exceptions, govern for the sake of power and money. Those are the guideposts.
People sense this deeply, and are frustrated and angry. It seems no one cares.
Someone once asked E. F. Schumacher, the author of the landmark book "Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered", who also wrote an essay titled "Buddhist Economics", what Buddhism had to do with economics. To which Schumacher replied:
"Economics without Buddhism - without spiritual, human, and ecological values - is like sex without love."
The same applies to politics. We have politics without love.
James Hilgendorf's new book, "The Buddha and the Dream of America", is his fourth book on Buddhism and its relation to history, politics, religion, economics, psychology, and the future of America and the American Dream.
"At the heart of Buddhism, and of all the Buddha's teachings, was compassion. The Buddha himself was a human being above all, concerned with the happiness of all people, with no distinctions regarding race or gender or age or even religion. It was the peoples' deepest happiness that mattered.
"This spirit was - still is today - not something to be shut off from daily life, not sequestered somewhere on a mountain top, but, rather, meant to penetrate every aspect of worldly affairs, politics included.
"What is going to change all of this? It is nothing but a transformation of the mind and heart. And this transformation begins with a revolution in the mind and heart of just a single person - you and I and other individuals. There is no other way.
"Structural changes will come to naught. Changes in social systems will come to naught. Changes in political systems will come to naught.
"If the individual changes, everything else will change. This is Buddhism."
The author is a practicing member of the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International, the largest lay Buddhist organization in the world today, with 13,000,000 members in 192 countries.
Besides "The Buddha and the Dream of America", his books include "The New Superpower"; "Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective";
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The Tribute Series is the producer of a series of highly-acclaimed travel videos. The company also produces corporate videos for domestic and international sales. The company also publishes the book of James Hilgendorf. The website is http://www.tributeseries.com.