The Buddha Was Not on the Left (or the Right)

As two the prominent SJI frameworks of Intersectionality Theory and Critical Race Theory have become increasingly influential in Western religions, including their formal adoption by the American Southern Baptist Convention and by various schools of Buddhism in the West, this essay offers additional insights that can balance perspectives and practices related to group identity, oppression narratives, personal responsibility, and open inquiry.

The essay also explores the theme of what the ancients called “idiot compassion”, which wisdom traditions have rejected as sentimental and lacking in insight into the unadorned and sometimes harsh realities of life and human nature. Victimhood culture, the demand for purity and perfect “goodness” from ourselves and others, and the constant striving to impose control on society to eradicate the inevitable pain, discomfort, suffering, loss, and ambiguities of living are increasingly valued by the Social Justice Ideology (SJI) that has been embraced by the modern left.

The writer of this essay explores why the Buddha and the ancient teachers from other non-dual wisdom traditions - would have questioned this.