By David R. Loy
A Buddhist interpretation of Western historical past that indicates civilization formed by means of the self's hope for groundedness.
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Additional info for A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack
Paul, however, employed the terminology of freedom to express the Christian message in a way that appealed to the many freedmen of the Roman empire. In Christ we are redeemed from the spiritual slavery of sin into spiritual freedom: “for freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). When we try to unpack the metaphor, though, it becomes difficult to work out exactly what freedom can mean in the context of our submission to God.
THE ANCIENT SIN Their Egyptian and Babylonian captivities taught the Hebrews the value of freedom, and even their allegiance to God was a voluntary contract (Abraham’s covenant, Genesis 15:18). Nevertheless, the Hebrew prophets, and later Jesus, were not very concerned about individual freedom. Instead, they emphasized obedience to God. , generated an ethical interpretation of history that traced evil back to humanity and made it our business to overcome it. This introduced a concern for social justice rather than the valuation of personal freedom.
The attraction of victimhood. Victimhood is learning how to address the problem of one’s life by discovering how one is being exploited or has been abused; then one’s anger and self-pity become justified, socially acceptable, and sometimes lucrative. From a Buddhist point of view, however, this is dangerous, since rather than pointing the way to overcome one’s sense of lack it reinforces one’s delusive sense of self as that which has been abused. For the masses totalitarianism is a temptation to surrender our freedom, yet the sense-of-self ’s sense of lack also enables us understand this authoritarianism from the autocratic side.
A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack by David R. Loy