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Podcast: Ethan Nichtern, David Loy and Michael Stone discuss Occupy Wall Street Part 01

This week ID Project founder Ethan Nicthern interviews David Loy and Michael Stone as they discuss the Occupy Wall Street Movement as it relates to Buddhist Practice and Philosophy. This is the first of a two part interview.

Ethan Nichtern is the founder and principle teacher for the Interdependence Project. His forthcoming book Your Emoticons Won't Save You will be released in January 2012.


David Loy, PhD is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher. His articles appear regularly in the Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. David lectures nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity.


Michael Stone is a psychotherapist, dharma teacher, yoga teacher, author and activist, committed to the integration of traditional teachings with contemporary psychological and philosophical understanding. He leads Centre of Gravity Sangha, a thriving community in Toronto.He also maintains a dedicated workshop and retreat schedule in communities internationally. You can visit his website at www.centreofgravity.org

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Michael Stone

crystallized some of my doubts about the Occupy Movement with his comments about Occupy Santa Fe. OSF wanted to involved the Pueblos, who said, "Where have you been? We've been protesting against the 1 percent for a hundred years?" He then says that OSF lost momentum while it pondered how to address this. He doesn't say how it was resolved -- did they "accommodate" the First Nations and their issues? Did they "embrace" them? Did they "honor" them?

In Part II, he talks about how one of the First Nations elders wanted a sacred fire and he (Stone) thought that was a mistake. Uh huh. How did that get resolved?

I feel at times that Occupy is elitist and ignorant of the world that's not college-educated people with big loans who can't get the jobs they were promised. They didn't discover the social ills. I'm glad they can bring attention to the situation -- but I wonder whether they'd stay out there if someone offered them a good-paying job. Are they really committed to change or do they just want what they think they're owed?

RE: What to "Vilify" and Problematize.

It is not necessary to criticize individuals. The System itself gives rise to all this, and it is the System that we can change. For example, Corporate Law since James I is what guides the behaviors of corporate executives. The laws about profit maximization are what drives executives and also in what drives them to select the junior executives who will become them. The work of Andrew Lobascewski or Martha Stott shows that sociopaths are often these people in institutions. This is Systemic. That sociopath was also created by a System, and never healed by a System.

Another example is our Constitution which gave political power to slave-owners through the 2 votes of every small and non-populous (i.e. rural and full of large land owners and their slaves) state specifically to neutralize the power of the mass democracy (often referred to as and immortalized as the "mob" in Federalist Papers). That neutralization of mass democracy persists to this day, was compound when Unions threatened it by new case law such as PACs and "money as speech", and represents a root cause to the problems of the 99%. Citizens' United shows that the Court is still on that trajectory set in the post-war years.

These are but a few of the deep deep structural issues that can be corrected to reduce suffering caused by hoarding and lack, leading to grasping and fear.

There are major System issues for us to focus on fixing with our Agency and Right View, Right Thought, and Right Action.

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