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I would really like to practice Buddhism but will I be faced with leftist loons?

I am very politically conservative, however religion is the one area of my life were I am liberal. I am afraid however that if I go to an American Buddhist center, I will be surrounded by tree-hugging obamabots. Are there any conservative Buddhist out there?


  1. Let’s see… you’re afraid of doing something that might enrich your life because you don’t want to be in close proximity to people whose political opinions you disagree with?
    Yep. Too many things wrong with this picture to address in under 5,000 words.

  2. Buddhist practises vary from simple gathering to learn about Yoga, meditation, Zen styling, etc… to sects and cults.
    Buddhism isn’t like the religions you’re used to. They aren’t as organized as you think. There are traditions that go from philosophical (non religious) to deep polytheism.
    Just google it or make a quick search on Wikipedia.
    This site might also help you: http://www.buddhanet.net/
    I’ve only just started and learning the basics… and I’m doing it at home!
    If you’re afraid of tree-huggers (join the club!), books are a nice way to start. You’ll learn in advance what to expect from a tradition.
    Books by Ringu Tulku Rimpotche are very good. I also strongly recommend “Buddhism for dummies”… seriously!
    If you don’t even want to go there, keep your eyes open for meditation and yoga classes… they have those pretty much everywhere and it’s a nice way to start.
    Keep the link I gave you, it has an extensive address book…

  3. When you start to practise what the Buddha taught, you will realise that leftist loons etc. are people exactly like you. You will learn not to judge others and eliminate your prejudices. And yes-there are some conservative buddhists out here-the middle classes are the ones looking for answers these days.

  4. Oh yeah, like some of the rightest loons you might leave behind are any better.
    Aren’t Buddhists more about peace and keeping out of others business instead of “be just like us!” attitudes? Guess you just aren’t used to that kind of concept.

  5. Wow, you sound more than a little prejudiced. Do you judge everyone based on their potential political views? What a tiny bubble to live in. Expand your horizons. Go to the Buddhist center. And who knows, maybe (GASP) no body will even bring up politics. I know, unheard of, right?

  6. There is a group for everyone to feel their best – I wish you all the best in your quest.
    Shrek is not the only person with layers, you know – every human has them.
    If I may be bold to suggest not caring or talk about politics in a setting where human desires do not belong.
    Keep these two sides of yourself separate. Focus on the path you are journeying on.

  7. You aren’t required to become a “leftist loon” as you call them, but there are several lifestyle changes that you would have to make in order to live fully in harmony with the teachings of Buddhism. For example, having respect for the Earth and not exploiting it or any living creatures is a fundamental part of a Buddhist lifestyle, because these come from the recognition of the oneness of all existence. You will also be required to question your political beliefs, like other types of beliefs, not because they are wrong, but because you must recognize the limitations of every idea you may have because the real truth lies beyond all such limitations. So there is no room for dogma or dogmatic attachment to any political ideas.
    So you can keep many of your political views, but you must also live the proper lifestyle and cultivate an attitude of questioning and seeing beyond limited ideas.

  8. Most likely in Asia, there are conservative Buddhists.
    The ones out here(which convert)are the ones who tend to be “tree huggers.”

  9. if this isn’t a total troll, it seems you aren’t even close to being ready to be buddhist.
    good luck though on at least seeing theres something better there… its a start anyway.

    • I’m really curious. How do I have to think to be ready to be a Buddhist? Do I have to think like you? Will I be ready then? Will you give me your permission?

  10. Most American Buddhists will tend to be more liberal than not. However, are you really so insecure in your views that you can’t even be around people who might disagree with you? Your views must be shaky if you can’t uphold them around others.

  11. Hmm
    Have you thought of giving the Dalai Lama a ring He has a liking for Merc’s The odd Rolex Watch Top of the range Apple Mac and although this has been well pulled down now but two years ago there was a very interesting Vid on the Net showing very clearly Him exchanging Masonic hand shakes with Chairman Mao Tse Tung on His last visit to China I have seen Him myself giving the nod to known Masons in recent years Do you think He may fit the bill for you

  12. Conservatives generally want to keep all things the same and usually resist most inevitable change. They want to CONSERVE what they think they own and what they think they possess, especially when it comes to anything financial, self-righteously moralistic, or a rifle. This flies in complete contradiction to buddhist philosophy, which embraces all change (within and without) flexibly and thoughtfully. If you want to truly find any enlightenment in your meditations, you will HAVE TO continually LET GO of all your delusional, fear-based conservative opinions and stubborn, pig-headed beliefs. These conservative beliefs are just harming you anyway, and they are insidious obstacles in your path toward freedom and liberation of your mind, body and spirit. Remember, LET GO first, and you will clearly see the disturbing error of your ways. Good luck and find love in you soul, and maybe give a tree a hug some day! Some trees are truly beautiful and very worthy of such awe and respect. You have to SEE it to believe it.

    • No, liberals don’t believe they should LET GO of anything. They believe someone else should let go of THEIR possessions/earnings by being forced to give them away.

    • Brian G, don’t forget everything you said applies to you too. Conservative Buddhists, Liberal Buddhists, both should question their beliefs and be prepared to LET GO as you said. Unfortunately, some people DO bully others who don’t share their views. Have you thought maybe the OP had experienced that sort of bullying and trolling before? It goes both ways, not just one way. You sound just as prejudiced and biased as you accuse OP of being. Remember “right speech” is to avoid harsh speech and speech that causes others to quarrel. You are Buddhist?

    • I would suggest that your understanding of Buddhism is half-right. While you drive home the “emptiness aspect” of enlightenment, it seems to me that in so doing you completely miss the “form aspect,” which is about conserving the details and distinctions that comprise the emptiness. And I would argue that harm comes from inflexible beliefs *in general*, rather than conservative beliefs per se; I know just as many liberals and leftists as conservatives and rightists whose politics come from a place that ain’t exactly mahakaruna.

  13. Buddhism is not the sort of religion you just decide to join. I mean, people do so, but they almost inevitably drop it when they find out how much work it is.
    I personally think Buddhism is just what you are, if you discover that fact. I did in my thirties, and realized I have been on all my life, at least from about age eight.
    As for conservatism, I am a conservative (read Tea Party conservative) Buddhist. Maybe the only one in my town, not sure. And you will be surrounded by peculiar people who think socialism is the answer.
    Buddhism is all about personal freedom and responsibility. And, among other things, not taking that which is not given. So, that lets socialists right out. Still, even the Dalai Lama says he is a Marxist.
    Go figure.
    But, if you truly are a free individual, and think for yourself, you won’t be daunted by the presence of soft, sensitive minds in the zendo.

  14. Awesome. I feel the same way. I found the site and thread googling the same question. And yeah – if you visit any Buddhist internet forums there are many outright Socialists and Communists on them. They tend to think that ‘Buddhism” and socialism are the same thing. I used to be a liberal Christian and now I am more of a Libertarian Buddhist. I would recommend finding a Vietnamese Buddhist center. Vietnamese refugees don’t see leftist idealism in a very favorably light…

  15. There are conservative Buddhists. Check out Rev. JB MuSsang Jaeger, a Zen teacher. He’s on Twitter at @unequaled108

  16. Yes, we are out here. I am where you are, eager to learn and grow in Buddhist thought, but hesitant to reach out to groups of other Buddhists because it seems unhelpful and unpleasant to run headlong into attitudes such as those expressed in a few of the responses you have received here. I prefer to be prompted gently to question my own beliefs and refine my thinking, not to be clobbered over the head with other people’s conclusions. I study in private.

  17. The Santa Monica Zen Center was the only conservative led zen center in the U.S that Im aware of. Im the Abbott and Co founded the center with Maezumi Roshi in 1994. Most of our membership was liberal ( santa monica ca. what do you expect ) 🙂 It made for an interesting sangha. I closed it this year after 18 years. My personal view is liberalism is a disease and has so infected buddhism it seems to simply be an extension of that political view with asian accessories and trinkets. Lipstick on the pig! I was able to make some inroads so not a total failure. Dont get me wrong wonderful people , kind and loving for the most part unless challenged politically.
    Then the alien pops out and the fun begins! enjoy goodluck

    • So are you practicing somewhere else? Was politics ultimately what killed your center? Would love the opportunity to meet more conservative Buddhists.

  18. Unfortunately, questioner, I think that your intuitions are right on the money. Buddhism in America is unfortunately a counterculture phenomena, with all the unfortunate pathologies that that entails. Many American Buddhists are not really Buddhists – their ethical deepest value system and sense of meaning is political/economic equality, and that is more important to them than actual Buddhism (ie bodhi/satori/liberation/awakening). And many Buddhist sanghas (communities) disgrace themselves by performing political activism in the name of the religion. Worst of all, many people who call themselves Buddhists express the kind of politicized, us-vs-them anger that you is evidenced in most of the answers in this thread.
    I think however that if you try out enough teachers and groups (if there is a choice in the area where you live), you will find that some are relatively more sincere in their devotion to actual Buddhist practice, ethics, and tradition.

  19. As a Zen priest, I find that a lot of my fellow clergy are a bit on the liberal side, and get involved in social and political activism more than I care to, however despite pretty heated debates, we all have a warm mutual respect for each other and share an openness that is hard to find else where. Liberal and Conservative are nothing more than words that describe a type of conditioning that one has gone though. Beneath all of that conditioning lies the true self. And that is where we will find interconnection with one another. So enjoy the diversity with an open mind, but don;t let anyone tell you what it means to be a Buddhist, just being here means that your on the path to awakening…

  20. Once you get deeper into most forms of Buddhism, you’ll discover that letting go your idea of “self” and other “others”, is one of the most important precepts. Therefore, if for you, the idea of “You” the conservative person all that entails is very important, then you are already starting off in the wrong direction.
    Are there conservative Buddhists? yes. Do most Buddhist American tend to be liberal? Yes. Will you be surrounded by treehugging Obamabots if you go to a Buddhist center? Possibly. But if they serious Buddhist practioners, and you are serious Buddhist practioner yourself, it won’t matter at all because it’s not supposed to.

  21. You’d find that most Chinese Buddhists are conservatives. It only appeared to be “left/liberal” cause the hippies just took the name but twisted teachings of the Buddha to fit their own needs.

  22. There are some of us out here, but we are a minority. Stand by your ideals always. I’ve been called all sorts of names since the election. These names are just labels that have no meaning or truth. The media has convinced the world that we are a bunch of racists. They use smear campaigns facilitate change. It is very sad. I am a Buddhist no matter if I am alone with no Sangha or not,this will not change.

  23. To answer your question honestly, yes, the vast majority of Buddhist’s are very left leaning and cannot fathom how someone can be a Buddhist and politically conservative. I have been a Buddhist since 1993, and was ordained in the lineage of Linji in 1998. The American side of my order is entirely liberal, while the Chinese side is much more conservative. I believe this is an American Phenomena, maybe even a reaction to the fact that most American conservatives are Christian. There are, however, ordained Buddhists that are very conservative politically; I include myself in that group.


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