El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller

Posts tagged ‘Nationalism’

The Oxymoron That Is “Buddhist Nationalism”

“Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.” – The Buddha

Buddhism and Nationalism cannot sit side-by-side. Nationalism is by nature the propagation and attempted sustaining of myths of identity.  Those who choose to be attached to such notions, do so in disregard of the true, absolute reality that everything is transient, impermanent and in constant flux, whether it be the individual, society, culture, traditions and even ethnicity. Everything changes in time.

Old myths get replaced by new myths, so what is the point in fighting against the inevitable? To do so is like trying to paint all the autumn leaves green, in the hope of deluding oneself that summer has not gone.

In contrast, a core part of the Buddha’s teachings is to accept impermanence. By doing so, we surrender ourselves to the natural processes, no longer grasping onto the unreal, which creates the friction that produces suffering. We should accept the impermanence of all phenomena, including the fleeting breath that is our own existence. There is nothing to grasp onto, and if we do, we are not grasping truth, just merely illusory phantoms of fancy, including our sense of self.

Instead of standing against the winds of change in all our delusional, egocentric glory, fighting for this or that ideology and national identity, it is far better to let go of all that, and become the wind itself, rather than be separated from it.  If we choose not to, we only postpone the inevitable.  The wind will always conquer in time.

Buddha As An Ascetic
Buddha As An Ascetic, Japan
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Nomadic Species

The world is not one of exactitudes of ethnicity, but rather one of fuzziness and blurring between groups of people, especially those living on the borders of countries.

Borders are illusions that have no geographical reality, but are constructed out of fear and perceived cultural biases/similarities. However, the truth is that humans have always been a nomadic species, transmigrating across the globe and intermingling, long before there were laws, visas and passports. This is most certain to continue, whilst we remain guests on our planet. Indeed, there is every likelihood that humans may one day migrate to Mars and beyond.

There are two ways to respond to this reality. The first is to take the response of Nationalists, who fear that there will be some sort of cultural/ethnic dilution of their group, if there is an influx of people with customs and ethnicity different to their own. And, most certainly, this is a two-way state of affairs, that can manifest on both sides, bringing with it racism, violence, segregation and hate.

The second and more preferable option, and the one that seems to wholly embrace the inevitable, is to just appreciate that everything is in a natural state of flux, including culture. Accept that nothing remains the same forever, including ethnic identity. Embrace diversity and look for common humanity in all.

A Camel In The Gobi
A Nomad Of The Mongolian Gobi Desert
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Problem With Nationalism

Nationalism is a choice to live in a fantasy land, where colours on a piece of fabric are considered worthy of loyalty. That the myth is even worth dying for.

Such dedication to tribalism is paramount to all that is wrong in the world. Once we move beyond concepts of separation, the sooner we will be unified to take action to save the world that supports us to thrive.

I have no problem with national identity. Indeed, the world is a far more an interesting place for the myriad of cultural flavours that abound across the globe. However, in this festival of cultures, we must be careful not to forget what unifies us as a species, in our celebration of difference. We simply should not get carried away by the mythology of anthems, flags and other constructs of fantasy, to the point where we start to forget what we have in common with those who do not share our anthems, flags and other constructs of fantasy.

To clarify, I am also not naive enough to ignore the cries of those under siege from nationalistic fervour, for which there are many around the world, whose traditions seem desperately under threat. I understand that when nationalism rubs against nationalism, just like when religion rubs against religion, friction occurs.

I am an unashamed idealist that believes we can move beyond base celebrations of tribe.  My blood is no different than yours.

– El-Branden Brazil