Skip to main content

Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

'Karma' running over the ‘dogma’ of nonviolvence

February 5, 2013
michael johnson
Body paragraph

There’s a good graffiti story that goes with this title.The graffitti was "your karma ran over my dogma," but that story will have to wait for another time. The basic idea is not difficult: reality will make a mess outta of our theories, dogmas, ideologies. The 2008 meltdown is one example. Another is finding out that the other does not love me the way I think she/he should. This bubble gets busted ad infinitum.

Our worst thinking uses our intelligence 1) to grasp a for-sure truth and 2) then closes our minds around it as we would a fist around an axe-handle. Our best thinking flows from meeting the karma of a situation with our mind, ears, and heart as open as we can. Then we can respond to what is rather that to what we presume should be.

My partner reminded me of a story from the time I was very involved with Buddhism.  I found it on the web: Richard Reoch: A Buddhist Brawl. I will give you the beginning and the end of the story. They are enough to make my point, but I hope it is also enough to tease you into read the whole very short piece as it is so finely told by Richard.

The beginning:

Not so long ago a brawl broke out in a Buddhist shrine room…It all happened in a very lovely retreat center near where I live. They were having a weekend devoted to nonviolence, and had invited a guest facilitator to lead the retreat. He wasn’t a Buddhist, but knew about group dynamics.

The end:

The whole room lunged forward. The first person to reach him knocked him to the ground. The rest joined in, shouting and kicking him as he curled up on the floor to protect himself from the blows. Eventually he managed to drag himself out of the shrine room…

Yes, somewhat unusual for those of us seeking to build a better world. Unusual for sure for its physicality, but not at all for what goes on between us emotionally and socially in our groups, departments, organizations, and movements. Our karma being part and parcel of this culture.

The only way I know to work with these very real dynamics is to develop ways in which we (and our Buddhist friends) can talk with each other face-to-face about them. Talk in order to understand each other and figure out what to do about our fears, our drives to dominate and control, our willingness to go along. Very complicated, very challenging, very long term. Lots of R&D.

Not a lot happening yet around this, however.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.