In world politics it is evident that some countries are more powerful than others and that, in various ways, the powerful dominate the weak. However, this is not as simplistically true as it at first seems. In my lifetime I have seen Vietnam, one of the weakest nations, defeat the USA. Dominance is not automatic and much depends upon the strength of motivation of opponents. The British empire was substantially made possible by the ability of the colonial power to recruit sections of the local population in countries that were colonised. Every ruler needs at least some friends.

It can be advanced as a reasonable hypothesis that an empire will persist for a length of time that is inversely proportional to the selfishness of the imperial power. When the dominant country is solely concerned about its own interests and sees the dominated countries simply as resources to be plundered, then the motivation of those who oppose it will become strong. When, on the other hand, the imperial power has some ethos of service toward its vassals, at least some of the population of those vassal countries will see it as a privilege to be associated with the dominant country. Some hegemonies last longer than others.

In the postwar period I think we have seen a gradual change - with some exceptions - in the attitude expressed by the leaders of the currently most dominant country. There was a time when America regarded itself as having a responsibility toward the rest of the world. More recently, the strongest note has been that America must look after itself and only be concerned with its own best interest.

The basic drama of world politics in the current century is bound to revolve around the question of whether America can manage to retain its position as the most powerful country on the planet. It seems to me that there is no single country that has the capacity alone to challenge that position, but that American dominance could come to an end if it found itself faced with a consortium of opposition from other countries acting in concert.

Insofar as America becomes more and more blatantly self-seeking, the likelihood of other countries overtly or tacitly uniting against it must become greater. The new regime now taking office is unprecedentedly strident in its America-first attitude. This has already been enough to bring cries of alarm even from some long standing allies and one can imagine that, behind closed doors, leading politicians in many countries are now making contingency plans.

It is a Buddhist principle and even more so a Taoist one that the person who just thinks of himself is least likely to get what he wants in the long run, and sometimes even in the short one. America will be judged by its actions more than its words, but words are not nothing. It is possible that the days of American dominance are numbered. It is impossible to tell exactly how the downfall will work out. Much depends upon adventitious circumstances that cannot be foreseen. However, on the basis of first principles, it is not unreasonable to imagine that some large scale changes are not that far away.

When we think in a purely utilitarian manner, we are liable to be blind to the factors that really move people's hearts and minds. The single action that probably most tellingly accounted for America losing in Vietnam was the decision of Lindon Johnson to bomb Hanoi. One might think - probably LBJ did think - that increasing pressure on the enemy will advance one's cause. However, what it did do was to harden the resolve of the Vietnamese to get rid of the foreign power. Penalising European industries that want to do business with Mexico might go down well with certain sections of American home opinion, but, as a German industrialist commented, Europe also has ways of putting pressure on America. When your former friends start to talk like your enemies, it is time to worry. We are not yet in a trade war, but it might be on the way and if it happens it is certainly not obvious that America would win it.

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It is worrying to see how doors are getting closed just because you are different, or because you happened to be born in a “non powerful” country. It has nothing to do with being proud of your nationality, but if you knew you would be subject of discrimination, just because of what your passport says, would you choose to be born in a different place?

I agree with you, just today I was thinking about the ideas people have about power. Seems that the trend is to think that you have to be selfish and self-centered to have and hold the power. Many people think that repression is the key and if “you” don’t like something, then “get rid of it”, strip people off their citizenship (as purposed by someone, even if they are not immigrants), take away their right to speak freely or their social media accounts. The only thing they get with this is enemies, discomfort and hate.

It’s been proved that “close economies” don’t work. A country is not alone in this planet and because of that, they don’t own it either (is like dealing with roommates). Decisions one country makes, will affect all of us, no matter how far we are from each other.

I think and from what I’ve read I feel that yes, other countries are not happy with the whole deal of what’s going on with the USA. From my point of view, American leader is someone that hates Mexico, it’s not Latin America, but unfortunately just one country. USA is behaving like a big bully… “If you talk to him, I will stop talking to you”… “Ohhh you gave him half of your sandwich! Shame on you!!”. This is like a tantrum and a personal vendetta, but why?

The world is not blind to what’s going on, many countries have stepped up and defended their investments and their deals. They know (many of them from personal experience) that a close economy is not healthy. They also know that this much hate will bring nothing good not in the long run nor in the short. Maybe, countries will come together (as some of them are starting to), maybe some good will come from this. At least, we have seen how many people can demonstrate all over the world, together, without any casualties or dramas.

 

Es preocupante ver como cierran las puertas a personas, únicamente por ser diferentes, por pertenecer a otra nacionalidad o por haber nacido en un país pobre. Yo me pregunto, realmente cuántas personas decidirían poder nacer en otro país si esto implica no sufrir discriminación.

 A mi parecer, USA se está comportando como un gran acosador. Amenazando con cerrar puertas, destruir tratos si los demás no se comportan como él quiere. Es como cuando uno iba en la primaria y el tipo grande amenaza con “golpearte” si le hablas a quien le cae mal, solamente porque le cae mal.

Las economías cerradas no funcionan, ya se ha comprobado esto. Ningún país es capaz de romper todo vincula con el resto del mundo. Necio es el que insiste en hacer lo mismo o en repetir la historia buscando resultados diferentes, aún sabiendo que esto no va a pasar. Yo creo que las acciones que se tomen tendrán repercusiones directas (es decir, yo creo que las cosas “se le van a regresar”).

Ese es el problema de no saber dejar a un lado las cuestiones personales de las profesionales. Puede que tengas una vendetta contra un país en específico, pero ese es tu problema y tu debes arreglarlo, no arrastrar al resto del país a tu guerra personal.

Sin embargo, estoy segura de que algo positivo va a salir de todo esto.

Yes. Of course, also, there are ironies. It is not long since we were seeing huge demonstrations against globalisation and free trade. Now we have a government in America that is against globalisation and free trade and we are seeing similarly large demonstrations against that government, and, I would not find it at all surprising to learn that many of the people taking part in these demonstrations are the same ones who were taking part in the previous ones. People are tribal rather than logical.

I suppose that it has been the case for a long time that the USA has acted in a domineering manner toward other countries. Most super-powers do do so while their reign lasts. However, what seems to have changed under G W Bush and now Trump is that it is much more blatant and openly stated that that is the intention. Consequently, people who ignored the phenomenon before have more difficulty doing so now. That change of consciousness in the rest of the world is bound to have substantial repercussions.

Jimena asks why this tantrum is happening now. Tantrums go with feelings of grandiosity. The spoilt infant has tantrums. America has, due to the situation prevailing in the aftermath of the cataclysm of WWII, enjoyed a position of being relatively 'spoilt'. It still is, in theory, the richest country on the planet, though some of those 'riches' are more a function of the way economies are measured than a reflection of solid cultural assets. However, the riches that it does have are most unevenly distributed and in this election certain (not all) under privileged or declining sections of the population have struck back. The new regime will not be able to deliver all that its supporters cry for so it needs scapegoats. Mexico is close at hand.

At the same time, the USA does face a mounting demographic problem in that the ethnic group that thought that they owned the place are gradually being overtaken. Only half the under fives in USA are caucasian. I have quite enjoyed learning some Spanish, but not everybody in that country views the prospect with glee :-). In this repect, Trump is standing against a tide. Perhaps he should have listened to Canute.

Trump was a reality tv star for a number of years on American television. Observing him during that time on the show, he always did everything he could to (1) boost his own ego and image, and (2) enhance his business interests/profits. I wonder how he will reconcile his "personal" interests with "national" interests now that he is President, especially when they do not align ?

David Brazier said:

Yes. Of course, also, there are ironies. It is not long since we were seeing huge demonstrations against globalisation and free trade. Now we have a government in America that is against globalisation and free trade and we are seeing similarly large demonstrations against that government, and, I would not find it at all surprising to learn that many of the people taking part in these demonstrations are the same ones who were taking part in the previous ones. People are tribal rather than logical.

I suppose that it has been the case for a long time that the USA has acted in a domineering manner toward other countries. Most super-powers do do so while their reign lasts. However, what seems to have changed under G W Bush and now Trump is that it is much more blatant and openly stated that that is the intention. Consequently, people who ignored the phenomenon before have more difficulty doing so now. That change of consciousness in the rest of the world is bound to have substantial repercussions.

Jimena asks why this tantrum is happening now. Tantrums go with feelings of grandiosity. The spoilt infant has tantrums. America has, due to the situation prevailing in the aftermath of the cataclysm of WWII, enjoyed a position of being relatively 'spoilt'. It still is, in theory, the richest country on the planet, though some of those 'riches' are more a function of the way economies are measured than a reflection of solid cultural assets. However, the riches that it does have are most unevenly distributed and in this election certain (not all) under privileged or declining sections of the population have struck back. The new regime will not be able to deliver all that its supporters cry for so it needs scapegoats. Mexico is close at hand.

At the same time, the USA does face a mounting demographic problem in that the ethnic group that thought that they owned the place are gradually being overtaken. Only half the under fives in USA are caucasian. I have quite enjoyed learning some Spanish, but not everybody in that country views the prospect with glee :-). In this repect, Trump is standing against a tide. Perhaps he should have listened to Canute.

Thanks, Tharakesh. Yes, we shall see. Will he bring about his own downfall? Will he take us with him?

One of th first things that Trump has done - first actual concrete act on the international stage - is to withdraw the USA from the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. It may have been a bit of a miscalculation to do this while Davos was in session because it appears that the other countries involved have had the opportunity to talk to each other immediately and Australia and New Zealand are saying that they still want to go ahead without the US. This might even open up the possibility of China joining the negotiation. It is too early to say, yet, but it is exactly this kind of realignment that could change the whole balance of power in the world. If the US withdraws into protectionism, other countries will make new alliances. There still seems to be a strong link between the US and Japan, but this needs watching to see what actually happens if Abe visits America.

Scary stuff... but it's also interesting to see how self-balancing these things may be - as you say, he can't say 'we come first' for too long before other countries will start losing their fondness for the USA. If only there weren't so many big dangerous toys available for him to play with... 

Quite! The problem of human over-population could be solved quite quickly.

Fascinating discussion, everyone. The march on Saturday Jan. 21st, world wide, seemed to show a willingness to stand against Trump and his cronies, a willingness shared internationally. I wonder how many of the people who marched are really rich with money? The polarities Trump engenders wherever he appears may be much deeper than him, but he may be the one person through whom deeper issues come to fore. 

Thanks, Charlene. I think you are probably right that his advent will bring hidden issues to the surface. He does seem to face a lot of issues that other people have been ignoring, whether one agrees with his "solutions" to them or not :-) There certainly are demographic, industrial, strategic and debt problems at least that cannot continue much longer on a business as usual basis.

Maybe Holocaust denial and so on. How can we repeat exclusion, terror and bigotry/ racism again and again? Sometimes it seems we were unable to look, just look shat has been done in history.

Yes, we do find it difficult to learn. I'm sure that one of the problems in Europe now is that not many people are still alive who can remember WWII, any more. I hope we do not need to do it all over again.

Trumps' attacks upon the courts and judiciary are alarming. This looks like a precursor to a power grab. If he were able to take power away from the courts then the US would move a step closer to dictatorship. When one gets a government from either extreme of the political spectrum this is what one fears - that the established institutions will be stripped of power and a kind of tyranny instituted instead. I hope that this is not what is happening in the US, but when political leaders start this kind of rhetoric one is right to be anxious.

If one were completely Machiavellian one would say that what Trump needs now is for a major terrorist incident to occur on US soil. That would give him the leverage to ride roughshod over all opposition. What is most frightening is that it is probably not beyond the wit of hidden forces in the US to organise one. The targets that a tyrant wants to stamp on are the courts, the media, and any other organisation that has a relatively independent constituency or power base. To control decision making one needs to control information and its distribution as well as any other platforms of authority. We shall soon see whether the predictions that Trump wants to be such a tyrant are true or not.

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Posted by JAESUNG KIM on August 6, 2017 at 6:58 0 Comments

2017 여름 불교심리치료 및 상담 워크숍 3회 내용

THREE PSYCHOTHERAPY & COUNSELLING WORKSHOPS

 

WORKSHOP 1: SNOW UPON A SILVER PLATE [ 銀盌盛雪]: PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY & THEIR PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC APPLICATION

In this workshop we shall introduce and review important aspects of Buddhist psychology including the conditioned and unconditioned mind, object relatedness, skandha process, the unity of path and goal, bodhichitta,…

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Great Intentions.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on August 3, 2017 at 22:42 0 Comments

  • The power of intentions is a topic that comes up regularly for me and always provides me with food for thought. In a recent service I was struck by the gravity of the Bodhisattva vows that we sing as part of our liturgy. ”Innumerable…

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Study Group.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on July 18, 2017 at 22:41 1 Comment

We just had a study group meeting at Amida Mandala Temple. Only three of us but a very rich hour. Predictably we came round to the issue of ‘is one Nembutsu enough?’ My understanding: In a sense it is, because when we call Amida we become one with his vow and the Pure Land and thus we are saved. In another sense we have to keep calling him so that he can keep saving us. As if we’re all lost in a thick fog and Amida is a few steps ahead of us illuminating the way, we have to keep him in sight…

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SIMPOSIUM AT OASIS

Posted by David Brazier on July 11, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

On 8th July we had a meeting of six teachers at Oasis together with many visitors.

Pictures: Here

Each of the teachers gave a presentation on what they considered most significant in their practice. Then there was an extended lunch period for socialising and, finally a sessions of questions and answers.…

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