Monday, March 19, 2012

The Buddhist and Libertarian Connection


What do libertarians and Buddhist have in common?

My conversion to libertarian values was a smooth ride. But if there is a word that's more appropriate, I can't really call it as a conversion. I can't recall a time wherein I was following a different set of social values apart from what I already now know as libertarianism. I know I am already a libertarian since the beginning, only that knowing it as such came a little late.

As to the Buddha part, I am no Buddhist like the skinhead monks following a strict regimen. I am more of a free-style Buddhist. I used the term Buddhist for no other reason but to convey easily what kind of spirituality, if it is to be called as a kind, I have. People are familiar with the word "Buddha" or "Buddhist" that is why I found it beneficial to use it. It would me much more cumbersome to relate my message if I am going to use the terms like Advaita Vedanta, Self, Now-ness, etc. or perhaps the more mind-intriguing concept of Non-duality. So, for the sake of easy conversation, the title Libertarian Buddhist is adapted for me to use more often.

Why Am I Libertarian? 

My understanding is that all men are equal. Individual freedom or liberty makes it so. For if it is not, it would be a contradiction to my own intuition. The intuition of this self-owned freedom must also be existing in others. Self-ownership must be a common feeling among individuals. In freedom, everybody must be seen as equal. But self-ownership which entails the freedom to do whatever I pleases to do doesn't come without the inseparable pair of my personal responsibility. Since the sense of self-ownership is also the same with every person and out of this feeling arises the need of self-protection, therefore everybody must be accorded with respect as  the same as the respect I want others accord to me. No man, group or government shall violate my liberty instead everyone must move to protect this freedom.

There can only be either liberty for everybody or no liberty at all. Libertarians cherish the idea that every man has his own liberty, thus the name. Libertarians appreciates the morality of individual freedom.

Why Am I Buddhist?

I have been a spiritual seeker for several years. And I came to understand the essence of Golden Rule. At first Golden Rule may necessarily be fulfilled through an effort by having the self-restraint from doing untoward actions to others. I call it "through an effort" for it is indeed an effort to constantly remind the mind not to be reckless. But beyond making an effort there is an understanding. When that kind of understanding comes, the effort to constantly remind the self of Golden Rule is no longer necessary. Everything would be spontaneous. However, I will not expand this discussion on that respect.

Spiritual seekers, which I may call Buddhists for the sake of discussion, eventually come to the realization  that compassion and love is all there is. The understanding that everyone is part of everything will forever diminish the seemingly powerful motivation to advance one's own self-interest at the expense of others. Abiding as the wholeness itself will render each man as not existentially separate from anything. There is only one existence and it is called in popular term, Oneness.

Why Am I Libertarian Buddhist?

The connection between libertarians and Buddhists can never be simpler. Libertarian values are centered on individual freedom thus the aim is to use freedom to let everyone flourish towards self-perfection. But because this advancement of self-perfection and freedom must not come as such it may lay prejudice and destruction to the same freedom held by others, there must be an unfailing consciousness that such realization can only be maximized when and only when at the same time the inter-wind relationships with everything and everyone is well understood.  Also, while libertarians appreciates equality and freedom in moral perspective, Buddhist comes in terms of spiritual connections. The two can't be separated I believe. Thus, I am a libertarian Buddhist.

Read Related Articles :


  1. Good for you, try to be the best you possibly can, but please lets be clear; I know the Buddha says figure everything out for yourself and don't inherently trust ANYONE, but... still listen to Buddhas advice (the Sutras), they can be extremely helpful in speeding up the progress of mental training.

    1. I too feel the Libertarian/Buddhist mix is appropriate.

    2. Buddha would never have condoned the welfare state as we know it, with tens of millions of people living for generations on the government dole. Hard work and effort is the core of Buddha's teachings. Not dependancy.

  2. Love this. Thank you.

  3. I am glad to read about others thinking about and writing about the libertarianism inherent in Buddhism. However, I find your writing style very and structure not very helpful.

  4. Essence of libertarianism: private property

    One of the foundational principles of Buddhism: "This is not mine, this is not me, this is not myself" (said of every phenomenon that can be observed, including all material and mental phenomena.


    "Libertarian buddhist" is perhaps one of the most perfect examples of an oxymoron for those interested in such things.

    1. Nice "Texas Sharp Shooter" fallacy. Both of your statements are off base. You cherry picked two lesser principles to make your point. Think of liberty as free will and you may have an idea of how they are similar.

    2. you've been out-foxed - liberty at the barrel of an economic gun is slavery.

      Right wing corporate libertarian dogma is the very essence of Orwellian double think.

      You've also given your ability to think over to Reverend Sri Koch. He planned this as far back as 1980, and owes more to Murray Rothbard and Herbert Spencer (you recall Spencer's idea of liberty? If you can't make ends meet, you have the liberty to die).

      Hardly the compassion of the Buddha.

      Think of Rush Limbaugh and imagine what he'd say about the Metta Sutra (think of Rush's fake "gay" voice): Imagine a woman who had five children, and four had died, and imagine how she would feel about that lone surviving child - now extend your compassion to feel that way about every living being.

      Seriously, can you imagine Ron Paul, Rush, Glenn and the rest thinking that's anything but socialism?

    3. Again, nice try but no. You are regurgitating and not actually doing the work yourself. Exclude the media and rhetoric. Read the tenets of what real Libertarianism is.

      "Right wing corporate libertarian dogma is the very essence of Orwellian double think."

      This message is so convoluted it is incomprehensible.

      Beck and Limbaugh are not Libertarians not to be lumped in with Paul. I don't know who those other people you speak of, nor how it relates to anything in this discussion. Stop cherry picking bastardized philosophies you think validate your arguments and pulling inane and unrelated comparisons. Again, Libertarian tenets are easily found outside of the political machine and media of which you clearly are influenced by (CATO). Libertarians are not Right-Wing republicans or corporations. Please, educate yourself, I think you are grossly confused or uninformed.

      “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

    4. If you think Ron Paul is a libertarian then you think that libertarians are as bad or worse than neo nazis. If this is not the case, tell me what you think it means. The term "libertarian" was originally connected to a left wing movement associated with mutualists and communists in the late 19th century who were opposed to all centralized power. They originally identified with the decentrazlied classic liberals of the early 19th century and saw - as did Abraham Lincoln - that corporations would ultimately gain an oligarchic control of the United States - as they did until the Progressives, and later, FDR made a half hearted compromise which lasted until the libertarians (which everyone in the United States except you seem to understand as liberrtarians - from Rothbard to Rand and onward) actually sat down and figured out a way to convince a lot of people who aren't aware of any of this that "liberty" meant keeping the government out of corporate affairs. This is exactly the tradition that Paul is heir to, right down to the extreme right wing populist appeal to the kind of nativism which comprised most of Paul's writings up through the early 90s until he decided to do an extreme makeover.

      The New Left was a mixture of outmoded, statist neo-Marxism and a genuine attempt by people like Schumacher and Korten to get back to true liberty loving libertarianism, only this time with an explicit spiritual foundation.

      THAT is the true heir to Buddhist liberation.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.





    11. By folks, time to unsubscribe. It was educational. Seems like every libertarian I've met insists that THEIR libertarian version is the only true one.

      Sorry, correction - every right wing authoritarian libertarian. (See John Dean for a description of the psychology of right wing authoritarianism). It's so refreshing to actually talk to an anarchist/socialist leaning libertarian - suddenly you feel liberated, the person's mind is free, open, clear… Buddhist.

  5. Let's see, if basuc buddhist(classical original theravada/mahayana-rooted buddhism)concepts fit libertarian or socialist modern world-view.

    1. "Violence cannot be stopped by violence. Only by non-violence it cn be truly stopped.
    Anger cannot be stopped by anger - only by non-anger it can be stopped
    Envy cannot be stopped by envy - only by non-envious ways it can be stopped - that's the Ultimate Truth"
    (stated by Gotama Siddhartha strongly in many occasitions)

    Is that even a slightly Marxist socialist concept?
    It's obiously not. It's the opposiition to socialist base itself^ that's previous form of violence cn only be stopped by greater vilence of previouusly deprived class and that the struggle between classes are destiny of human kind - until all classes disappear and all humans will be nearly equal in term of using their goods.
    It's more connected to muslim thought that struggle between monotheistic surrended belivers and non-belivers are destiny of humanity and therefore will stop only in the Last Day of human kind.

    Libetarian view, however, goes well with non-violence Dharmic principle, but not perfectly well, becuse for vitruous hindu buddhist person Dharma is a lot more than just natural rights - it's also natural obligations to universe, that cannot be matter of a human(or even non-human - gods, demons and ghosts are also subjects of their cosmic obligations) choice.

    2. Buddha was strongly "for-charity" positioned, that's revealed in most sutras of Theravada and Mahayana buddhist branches.

    But he never also stated that stealing or forcefully taking property of a rich and prosperous person who's greedy enough is good and right thing to do by even their workers or a low-caste person.
    It's a sin regardless of circumstances.

    It's not coherent with classical libertarian point of view, neither with marxist socialist point of view.
    Libertarian though doesn't care if person are greedy or not, is person are passionate or not, is person mercy or not. Buddhist thpught is.
    Marxist socialist do not view expropriation of one's property as a good thing, buddhism is not.

    Well, it still kinda fit in Bleeding-Heart libertarian way of thinking, so it's ways can be merged and followed by a sane person.

    3. Morality code.
    Libertarin morality and socialist morality are different from each other and from buddhist point of view.
    From libertarian perspective, it's man' choice and his personal responsibility for non-harmful(directly) actions, tht's are acceptable.
    From socialist perspective, person also responsible for others sufferings becuse it's his wealth that causes other's unwealth.
    From buddhist postion, every person is responcible not just for their actions but also for their birth. Good persons born in wealthy families and bad persons are born in misery. That's not accidental, it's their karma and it's their duty to follow path of their current body's ancestors. Even if some action are non-harmful to others, they are still can be bad from buddhist point of view.
    Passions and desires are harmful even if person finds them pleasurable - becuse only suffering comes from them in a long perspective.
    Noble souls should limit themselves to only necessary things.

    It's nearer to socialist vciewpoint but very far from libertarianism.
    Still, it's not completely socialist - becase marxist socialist(especially stalinist and leninst branches) are opposed to intellectual and self-limiting philosophy, they are strongly anti-ascetic and anti-puritan.(even capitalist people are viewed by socialist as "too ascetic")

  6. For moral issues, I think Buddha and Libertarians share with some common ideas.