BRAVE NEW WORLD
I was watching a 1980 film version of the Huxley classic, Brave New World, in pieces (it’s a 3 hour film) over the past week. This 1930's novel was required reading when I was in high school, along with its book-end , Orwell’s 1984. Both stories consider a distant future, the first in a world where blandness, ego-centricity and pleasure dominate; the other, where a different kind of blandness pervades, egos are obliterated in a grey sameness and pleasure is replaced by a devotion for the state brought to perfection in present-day North Korea.
I have frequently pondered on what the world would look like if Buddhist monastic values and structure were to predominate. I’m not convinced that the world-as-monastery would be a whole lot better than either of these literary fantasies. What the Buddha teaches us is the tendency of human beings to act out of the three kleshas, namely lust / greed, anger /aggression and stupidity /dullness. If governments and societies are composed of individuals with these values and behaviours, its hard to imagine a system which would achieve the perfection we imagine waiting for us at the end of the democratic, growth economics government experiment.
We need to recall that Shakyamuni was more of a radical than a reformer. He was not in any way proposing incremental change, guided development or anything that suggested that all we need to do is be better at what we are doing. The Dharma Way is not about being a “good person” , as so many would like it to be. The Dharma is fundamentally calling us to recognize the temporariness of all we know and believe about ourselves and our world. It calls us to open ourselves to infinite possibilities, including letting go of the mistaken clinging to this transient self and world.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu