I don't know whether to draw attention to this or not, but Peter Preston is back in the Guardian today with another pile of crap about schools, headteachers and SATs. Depressing.
What can one say that hasn't already been said? Thank goodness for CIF and all the Below The Line contributors. But why on earth does the Guardian continue to give this man space for his ludicrous views? If he's so desperate to have them published he ought to take them to the Daily Mail, which is where they belong, along with those of Melanie Phillips & Co. Which reminds me - she seems to have gone quiet lately . . .
Oh no she hasn't. Or if she's piped down a bit, she's still churning out her stuff in plenty of places. If you really want to know where - http://www.melaniephillips.com/
This Maitreya thing is really quite interesting. I found this today on Wikipedia:
Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor of the historic Śākyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Theravāda, Mahāyāna, Vajrayāna), and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when Dharma will be forgotten on Earth.
One mention of the prophecy of Maitreya is in the Sanskrit text, the Maitreyavyākaraṇa (The Prophecy of Maitreya). It implies that he is a teacher of meditative trance sadhana and states that gods, men, and other beings:
"will lose their doubts, and the torrents of their cravings will be cut off: free from all misery they will manage to cross the ocean of becoming; and, as a result of Maitreya's teachings, they will lead a holy life. No longer will they regard anything as their own, they will have no possession, no gold or silver, no home, no relatives! But they will lead the holy life of chastity under Maitreya's guidance. They will have torn the net of the passions, they will manage to enter into trances, and theirs will be an abundance of joy and happiness, for they will lead a holy life under Maitreya's guidance." (Trans. in Conze 1959:241)
This all sounds like standard mainstream Buddhism, which, to a Zennist, is . . . a little simplistic.
By the way - this guy is huge!
In Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who is striving for full enlightenment (Arahantship in Pali), whereas in Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who has already reached a very advanced state of grace or enlightenment but holds back from entering nirvana so that he may help others.
Maitreya's coming is characterized by a number of physical events. The oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. The event will also allow the unveiling of the "true" dharma to the people, in turn allowing the construction of a new world. The coming also signifies the end of the middle time in which humans currently reside (characterized as a low point of human existence between the Gautama Buddha and Maitreya.)
A low point of human existence? It certainly will be if Cameron & Co are in Downing Street by the end of this week. Or at least a low point in the sad recent history of this country - downhill all the way from Thatcher and then on through the eras of Major, Blair and Brown. If people can't see by now that neo-conservative ideology and neo-liberal economics have created the financial disasters, and they still want to elect sons of Thatch such as Cameron, Osborne and Gove, then we really are at a very low point.
The good news, however, is that the polls are still showing that solid support for the Tories is around the levels that Michael Howard achieved - the low 30%s. This is no more than their core vote - i.e. there will always be this nucleus of reactionary and self-serving opinion, come what may. In any normal distribution there will always be a hard core of about one third who don't give a shit about anyone but themselves and those who are already well off. The opposite third will tend to put the good of society as a whole above their own (financial and material) self interest. The middle third will always have a vague belief in 'fairness'.
Had New Labour done the right thing at some point during the past decade we'd already have a political system that would, through proportional representation, guarantee government by the more enlightened two thirds, keeping in check the one third who are basically either dupes and idiots or fat cats and would-be fat cats.
I used to think you couldn't really blame the wealthy for wanting to protect their own interests against those who'd like to have a more equal society, but since the publication of The Spirit Level even they should be able to see that the haves as well as the don't haves actually gain from greater equality. That's to say - they'd see if only they were looking. Enlightenment and clear vision, however, are not on their agenda.