Abstract

This article examines whether the American cultural phenomena of the practice of Buddhism or the Buddhism-derived technique of mindfulness are likely to be helpful to the political left. It summarizes the central teachings of the ancient Buddhist texts, with particular focus on the issues of mindfulness and politics. It also reviews the political history of Buddhist countries. The author argues that although modern Buddhism has shed its historical embrace of absolutist monarchy in favor of republicanism, and although there is some ideological overlap between Buddhism and the American Left, Buddhism in America is too small a movement for it to be of much significance for progressive politics. Mindfulness appears to be capable of becoming a much larger phenomenon, but its separation from its Buddhist origins makes it also unlikely to be strategically important for the Left.

Disciplines

Political Science

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/poli_fac/29