Discourse Practice Scholarship

MN 139, Part 4: On Political Discourse

Continuing to unpack MN 139, On Avoiding Conflict (Parts 1, 2, 3)… recently Ajahn Nisabho gave a bonzer talk, Culture War Pacifism: The Dhamma of Dolly Parton. He spoke about engaging skillfully in political discourse, about not being caught up in the collective papañca of the culture wars.

Might this bit in MN 139, about not speaking behind someone’s back, be useful here?

I’d never thought of it this way, but speaking about some particular politician is, in fact, speaking about a person behind their back.

My position generally is that Politician X is not actually the problem; they are merely a symptom of a greater systematic/social problem. Speaking about systems (ie, conditions) is often less inflammatory than denouncing individuals; it might be an interesting practice to explore the effect of refraining from speaking about any particular politician.

I see skillful engagement as one of the great challenges of my dhamma practice. I’ll take all the help I can get.

With friendliness!

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