Chinese Communists, Vietnamese Buddhists

Liu Shao-Chi, How To be a Good Communist
Foreign Language Press, Peking 1964

Thich Nhat Hanh, Interbeing: Commentaries on the Tiep Hien Precepts
Parralax Press, Berkeley, 1987

An immature revolutionary has to go through a long process of revolutionary tempering and self-cultivation, a long process of remoulding, before he cam become a mature and seasoned revolutionary who can grasp and skillfully apply the laws of revolution. For in the first place, a comparatively immature revolutionary, born and bred in the old society, carries with him the remnants of the various ideologies of that society (including its prejudices, habits and traditions), and in the second he has not been through a long period of revolutionary activity.

Members of our Party must be clear on this point, and — particularly when the revolution is successful and victorious and when they themselves enjoy the ever greater confidence and support of the masses — they must sharpen their vigilance, intensify their self-cultivation in proletarian ideology and always preserve their pure proletarian revolutionary character so that they will not fall into the rut of earlier revolutionaries who degenerated in the hour of success. 

A person who really takes pain to cultivate himself and to be a faithful pupil of the founders of Marxism-Leninism will lay special stress on maintaining the Marxist-Leninist stand and using the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint and method to solve the problems arising in the revolutionary movement lead by the proletariat, as the founders of Marxism-Leninism did. He will give no thought whatsoever to his own position or fame in the Party, nor will he ever claim to be a Marx or a Lenin, nor require nor expect others to have the same high respect for him as for Marx or Lenin, for he does not think he has any right to do so. Yet such a person will enjoy the considered respect and support of the mass of the Party members just because he acts in this way, because he is always honest and loyal, brave and firm, and shows great ability in the revolutionary struggle.

What does ideological self-cultivation mean? Fundamentally, in my opinion, it means that every Party member should use proletarian ideology to combat whatever non-proletarian ideas he has, use the communist world outlook he has and use the principle of the supremacy of the interests of the proletariat, the people and the Party to combat his individualism.

Will the communist world be good? We all know it will be. In that world there will be no exploiters or oppressors, no landlords and capitalists, no imperialists and fascists, nor will there be any oppressed and exploited people, or any of the darkness, ignorance and backwardness resulting from the system of exploitation. In such a society the production of both material and moral values will develop and flourish mightily and will meet the varied needs of all its members. By then all humanity will consist of unselfish, intelligent, highly cultured and skilled communist workers; mutual assistance and affection will prevail among men and there will be no such irrationalities as mutual suspicion and deception, mutual injury, mutual slaughter and war.

They cherish great and sincere friendship, warmth and sympathy for other members of their own class and for all oppressed and exploited working people, towards whom they show a fine spirit of mutual help, firm unity and genuine equality. They are absolutely opposed to privileges of any kind for anyone, consider it impermissible to think in terms of privilege for themselves, and would deem it unthinkable and even a disgrace, to occupy a privileged position among the people. 


Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

Do not think that the knowledge that you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrowminded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy and material resources with those who are in need.

Do not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise, practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understand the persons who have caused anger and hatred. Learn to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion.

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