Donald Rothberg: Dharma and Democracy: A Talk on the Fourth of July

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(Spirit Rock Meditation Center) On the Fourth of July, we look at the relationship between the freedoms opened up by the dharma, the teachings and practices of awakening, and by the promise and actuality of democracy, at this time of peril for democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere. Can we imagine a spiritually-grounded democracy? To respond to this question, we examine the vision of democracy, remembering both some of the words of the founders and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where people of all races, all nationalities and all creeds can live together as brothers and sisters." We also explore the vision of dharma and awakening, including the Buddha's creation of a community separate from the prevailing caste system of his time. Yet we also need to look at the many "shadows" of both democracy and dharma, which obscure the vision and prevent its full realization. We end by pointing to a number of ways to renew, develop, and practice our visions of "spiritual democracy" in the different parts of our lives.

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