Letters

Can Buddhism Be Free From Politics?

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Question: Can Buddhism be absolutely free from worldly politics, without any so-called restrictions, obligations and collaborations?

Answer: Throughout history, for religions to thrive safely as big spiritual-social institutions, there is some harmonious ‘dancing’ with politics for win-win situations. We are in a defiled land (秽土) in this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期); not a Pure Land (净土) in the Right Dharma Age (正法时期). Even the ‘best’ defiled land has to be ruled by a Wheel-Turning Noble King (转轮圣王), although this is the best of rulers.

Despite maintaining of respectful harmony, Buddhist centres of worship, training and practice were suppressed and wiped out multiple times by insecure kings and such in the past, partly due to fear of the numbers that it ‘might’ rally against them. This makes it essential to be on reasonably good terms with politicians of the day.

The world has always been political in many places and forms, from simple classroom politics to complex office politics. It is thus important to abide by the precepts strictly, as we skilfully dance the ‘dances’ deemed needed. Otherwise, if integrity is easily compromised, the Right Dharma (正法) will surely be ‘destroyed.’

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