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IdPol: An opportunity for Buddhist Practice

by Todd Green (@tsondo)
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I try to keep my Buddhist practice as simple as possible, which is sometimes easy and fun, and sometimes a real challenge. I tend to analyze quite a lot, which is a two edged sword.

On the one hand, it can help break things down into understandable components, or show relationships that might not be obvious on the surface. While I enjoy it and generally find it useful, sometimes I overindulge. I find it fun and challenging to think about what makes things work, which can be useful at work, or when studying complex ideas within Buddhism such as causality, or emptiness.

But as useful a tool as analysis is, sometimes I get caught up in it past the point where it is useful. While it can reveal relationships between causes and effects, and help apply understanding to the world of causation, it can also get pretty sticky, chasing down biased views, or delving deeply into something that is actually a logical fallacy. It can also become an excuse to avoid action when, even though the course of action is clear, “I just need to think about it a bit more!” Sometimes I can even find myself avoiding what is actually valid conclusion or logical result, due to some unacknowledged hope or fear, maybe in the form of insecurity, or a reflection of undeveloped self-esteem. Other times, I can get locked in to an idea, following it to its end out of curiosity, or a kind of obsession with knowing, even in cases where knowing is clearly not going to be possible, such as with some metaphysical conjectures.

I’m not alone in such “over thinking.” I see it happening quite a lot with political discussions, where the hopes and fears of individuals can get in the way of a more simple approach, such as listening to others, or merely observing what is needed in the here and now. There are times when love, compassion, and understanding from the heart are more important than striving for a more perfect intellectual understanding. Political discussions in particular could often benefit from this approach, especially when the discussion relates to particular groups of marginalized people, the politics of which are referred to as Identity Politics (IdPol).


Recently I’ve seen social media posts that blast IdPol as if it is something horrible, and ultimately damaging to society; the cause of much suffering. It doesn't surprise me that members of a majority group, even those who practice Buddhism, mig

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