Buddhism and Anarchism: Exploring the Unlikely Compatibility of Two Distinct Traditions

By Nico Armin

In the summer of 2018 I was at a movie night event with newly acquainted classmates from grad school. We were all still getting to know each other and one of them asked me something about my personal beliefs. I don’t remember the details but I remember admitting I was a Buddhist anarchist. I think the reason I put it in those terms had to do with the context of our discussion. Mind you, he is a Japanese classmate whom is fluent in English. But his response was something to the effect of, “How does that even make sense?” And his response filled me with the urge to lecture to him then and there about how Buddhism and anarchism are actually compatible if you really think about it. I was tempted to mention the Japanese Buddhist anarchist monk, Uchiyama Gudō (May 17, 1874 – January 24, 1911), and Emma Goldman’s personal friend from India, Har Dayal (14 October 1884 – 4 March 1939), but I resisted the urge. Instead I promised myself that I would write an essay expounding on this compatibility. So this essay is the result of that urge.


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