Thread: Current media frenzy on abuse

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    Current media frenzy on abuse

    With all the media attention to the experience of abuse in daily life, it has set me to contemplating the how and why abuse of all kinds occurs. It appears to be common in all aspects of life, every type of religious organisation, police, politicians, entertainment, workplaces.

    The abuse ranges from low grade bullying to serious sexual assault, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is the male half of the population abusing the female half of the population, however, that is the current skewed media representation of the phenomena, rather than the reality.

    I believe abuse is so common that it is deeply embedded in the human psyche, in would not be so ubiquitous if it were not so, I also believe that it is not about the type of abuse, ie bullying or sexual, that is only the manifestation of the underlying use of power.

    So the problem appears to be where there is an imbalance of power, this sets up a seemingly irresistible power play where one participant uses the perceived advantage of superiority to manipulate and gain dominance over the other.The spectrum of abuse is wide, it appears that the more extreme the perception of power the subordinate has of the other, the worse the abuse.

    Basically, abusers get the feeling of entitlement to abuse from their position in a perceived power hierarchy. So what has this to do with Buddhism, or more pertinently what has Buddhism to say about power in balance? I think quite a lot. Ahimsa the doctrine of non-harming runs through all the teachings of all Buddhist schools like the spine in a skeleton, everything hangs from it.

    The Buddha did not have hidden esoteric teachings, the Hand full of leaves teaching https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....031.than.html

    There are many instances I think that shows the Buddha did not encourage a perception that there were teachings only accessible by those chosen few in an hierarchy that is only accessible by invitation, thereby setting up a power differential between the teacher and student. In all the cases I have heard of it is this power difference that it is the underlying cause.

    Perhaps I am wrong, I would be interested in hearing others thoughts?
    Particularly on how you would address the need for safeguarding

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by McKmike
    With all the media attention to the experience of abuse in daily life, it has set me to contemplating the how and why abuse of all kinds occurs. It appears to be common in all aspects of life, every type of religious organisation, police, politicians, entertainment, workplaces......
    Thank you for your post, Mike.

    I'm in the process of starting to cook an evening meal at the moment so I'd just like to very briefly make a point before others respond to the topic. Its a reminder that we're not a politics or comparative religion website (Code of Conduct no.18) just in case the discussion goes in that direction.

    I'm mentioning this because I've seen people ranting and arguing on other forums about political and religious issues happening around the world - and I really don't want that happening here.

    I'll get back to my cooking now and leave this quote from a (much younger) Ajahn Sumedho in a video with the title "The Buddhist Idea of a Perfect Society"


    We need to cultivate good qualities within ourselves rather than expecting others to behave in this way. Facing whatever manifests in our life with equanimity is a good start towards creating a perfect society.

    ....and in an essay with the same title as the video he mentions the ten virtues (rajadhammas).

    Excerpt:


    The eighth is avihimsa, or non-violence, non-oppression; not using violent means against enemies or against anyone; not being oppressive or forcing your will unmercifully on other people.

    Even high-mindedness can be oppressive, can't it? If you live with people who have very high standards and high ideals, they can push you down all the time with their ideas. It's a kind of violence, even though they might believe in non-violence and think they are not acting with violence. You can say, "I believe in avihimsa" but still be very oppressive about it. That's why we often tend to see it as hypocrisy.

    When we talk about morality now, some people get very tense, because they remember morality as being oppressive, like in Victorian times when people were intimidated and frightened by moral judgments. But that is not avihimsa. Avihimsa is non-oppression.

    After avihimsa is khanti, which is patience, forbearance, tolerance. To be non-oppressive and non-violent, not to follow anger, one needs to be patient. We need to bear with what is irritating, frustrating, unwanted, unloved, unbeautiful. We need to forbear rather than react violently to it, oppress it, annihilate it.


    http://www.purifymind.com/PerfectSociety.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    I'm mentioning this because I've seen people ranting and arguing on other forums about political and religious issues happening around the world - and I really don't want that happening here.
    Hi Aloka

    Perhaps I should clarify my thoughts a little better.

    I am curious about this idea that much abuse is founded in a power imbalance, it is not particularly aimed at any specific instances.

    I am curious about other people's take on this idea, in a general sense and what they think in our practice. that safeguards against the kind of situations that seem to lead to the problem.

    Hopefully people will keep to the general idea and not descend into specific details that can lead to the kind of problem you mention.

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    McMike: "Perhaps I am wrong, I would be interested in hearing others thoughts? "
    My focus has been upon the suta often referred to as "The Simile of The Saw". The portion of in which Buddha states that there is never "any" reason for us to respond violently.

    source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi...021x.than.html

    As you wrote, there have been many examples of violence being dealt a violent response, especially in recent situations where assailants have attacked our children in schools, which has set off an emotional storm of activism against the use of certain types of weapons designed primarily for military purposes, the "mother of all violence". Circumstances where governments and seemingly mad-despots want the ability to rain nuclear, or chemical destruction upon anyone or any entity, which challenges their supremacy is another recent issue brought to light, especially in North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

    As Buddhists we have been taught that violence leads only to more violence. In the Jataka Tales, there is a story of Buddha born as a prince, who feared what he would have to do in order to fulfill his responsibilities as a king so much that he pretended to be an idiot and a dullard so that he could never be crowned due to his pretenses of mental infirmity. The caution here being that the hell realms are a certain consequence of acting violently in any manner no matter what the justification or obligation.

    I liked what you had to say about putting on airs of moral supremacy being a form of abuse. We all know what that means, and have all suffered the effects of such behavior. I will have to keep an eye on my (mundane) self to see if there is anything going on there. Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention.
    Last edited by Olderon; 11 Mar 18 at 03:15.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post

    I liked what you had to say about putting on airs of moral supremacy being a form of abuse. We all know what that means, and have all suffered the effects of such behavior. I will have to keep an eye on my (mundane) self to see if there is anything going on there. Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention.
    Hi Olderon

    Interesting point, we are such creatures of habit and conditioning (sankara's) it is our evolutionary inheritance.

    There were some interesting experiments carried out by a psychologist Stanley Milgram the most famous was the electric shock conformity experiment https://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

    However he also did a very interesting experiment asking people to give up a public space seat for not apparent reason, the majority of people complied.

    This shows a bias toward authority, even if that authority is only a request. We are a pack animal that for the sake of social cohesion will subordinate our own interests.

    I find that very interesting, this does explain a lot of behaviour that seems puzzling to an outsider, such as Germany's Nazi period.

    I wonder if mindfulness exposes and combats this inbuilt behaviours, buddhism dhamma is know as swimming against the stream.

    What is the experience of practitioners ?

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