Ideals: Either Partial or Impotent

Ajahn Sucitto

Ideals: Either Partial or Impotent

The drawback with the Romantic and Transcendental movements is that, like the Western tradition in general, they referred to the Ideal, and neither nature nor humans are ideal. They interpreted a principle rather than establishing a way of life from living in the natural world.

The principle of equality doesn’t fit with unbridled individuality; relational balance is required. And even wonderful abstract principles don’t fit into how experience happens.

Nineteenth-century Evangelical Christianity had some great principles and campaigned to make slavery illegal; but, although it supported a kinder version of the Supreme God, it also held the notion that theirs was the only way to access Him. Indigenous people were heathens and savages.

Then, even though terms like ‘God’, ‘freedom’, ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ could be coined, any one of the native peoples who were displaced and/or decimated might very well ask ‘what freedom?’ and ‘whose justice?’ And the entire biosphere could rightly insist: ‘If we’re part of God’s creation, when do we get equal rights?’

What people find difficult to accept is the fact that ideals prove to be either partial or impotent because they issued from the minds of humans.

This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, Buddha Nature, Human Nature, (pdf) p. 225.