As Buddhists and dhamma practitioners, I would love to see us having more conversations about what compassion and social change actually look like: locally, on the ground, in practice. Because it’s too easy for us to invoke these words — compassion, inner work, social change — and assume that everyone is on the same page.I still think engaged Buddhists could learn a lot from looking at the Christian models for solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised, incorporating social justice into spiritual practice, and the like. Just because the media coverage is dominated by the far right Christians and their fundamentalist political agendas, the greater and often less well-known efforts of other priests, religious and laity should not be neglected.
The truth is, we’re not all on the same page. And it’s not until after the event is over, on the subway ride home, when a gaggle of us start discussing in detail the relationship between inner and outer work, that these fundamental differences emerge, sharp and cold, like mountain peaks, from the soothing golden fog of Buddhist unity.
Especially in Buddhist communities that prize extended retreat time, a decade of study with a realized Asian master, and this sort of removal from everyday householder affairs, there’s a danger of trying to build our sanghas into utopias, and assuming that they will automatically radiate peace and well-being into the world. Might be true on an individual or small-group level, but why should we believe that we can scale up well-being from personal transformation to world peace, without specific strategies for tackling enormous material systems?
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The knitty gritty of "engaged" spirituality, Buddhist style
From Katie Loncke's Blog, republished at the Buddhist Channel. I have offered critiques on similar topics before, but Katie really seems to have struck a chord... or nerve: