Friday, 21 January 2011

Marxism and Buddhism

Buddhism and Marxism have quite a good deal in common.

On Marxmail, Greg McDonald wrote :

Buddhists have lots of good ideas, if you can
separate the wheat from the chaff.

Agreed. Both are materialist philosophies, both hold inter-personal relationships as
the material basis for causality, both downplay the role of the individual ego and
ascribe it to a nexus of factors caused by external causality, both envision
change as a complex, dialectical process.
The main difference of course, is that Buddhism, while sympathetic to Marxism,
sees a change within the relationships of production as insufficient to achieve
true "enlightenment". Buddhism focuses on the recognition by an individual that
his/her "self" does not really exist but is the result of attachment to identity brought
about by external sensory stimuli. There is no "me", there is just constant
thought brought about by external stimuli.
Marxists, while regarding this emphasis on understanding the non-existence of the ego as
irrelevant, will have nothing to object to Buddhist psychology as such.
Stimuli-like/dislike-craving/hatred-idea of "self"-reaction-new inter-personal causality which
restarts the cycle. The only way to freedom is not through God, according to Buddhists, but through
recognizing that the "self" is not static, but a process of stimuli/reaction ."Letting go of attachments" is the way to happiness according to Buddhism.
This is a very, very long process (dozens of years of arduous self-reflection), before an individual can attain "nirvana".

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