Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

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Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:56 pm

What is Engaged Buddhism? What are it's aims, and how should Buddhists engage, generally speaking?



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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:43 am

tellyontellyon wrote:What is Engaged Buddhism? What are it's aims, and how should Buddhists engage, generally speaking?


The term was coined by Thich Nhat Hahn. You can read his precepts of Engaged Buddhism here. You will particularly like precept 5:

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.

http://viewonbuddhism.org/resources/14_precepts.html

Joanna Macy is another person who has written about this quite a bit:

http://www.joannamacy.net/engaged-buddhism.html

Engaged Buddhism is basically Deep Ecology with a Buddhist perspective.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:47 am

Thanks for the links M. will check them out. :namaste:
“Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:58 am

I was going to point tellyontellyon towards http://www.ecobuddhism.org but it seems to have been taken down. Does anyone know why, or whether it has just moved?

TIA,

Kim :namaste:
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:17 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I was going to point tellyontellyon towards http://www.ecobuddhism.org but it seems to have been taken down. Does anyone know why, or whether it has just moved?

TIA,

Kim :namaste:



It loads for me.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:48 am

Malcolm wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I was going to point tellyontellyon towards http://www.ecobuddhism.org but it seems to have been taken down. Does anyone know why, or whether it has just moved?

TIA,

Kim :namaste:


It loads for me.

Still not for me - and I have tried three times in five hours. Each time I get ...
Web Server's Default Page

This page is generated by Parallels Plesk Panel, the leading hosting automation software. You see this page because there is no Web site at this address.
You can do the following:
Create domains and set up Web hosting using Parallels Plesk Panel.

Beats me! :shrug:

:namaste:
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:22 am

tellyontellyon wrote:What is Engaged Buddhism? What are it's aims, and how should Buddhists engage, generally speaking?



:heart:


In Taiwan and the Chinese Buddhist world it is called Humanistic Buddhism, and is a reaction to perceived past failures of earlier generations coupled with an attempt at emulating the Catholic church, often by their own admission. Zhengyan, the founder of Tzu Chi, for instance, was unable to reply when Catholic nuns asked her what Buddhists did for the downtrodden.

Humanistic Buddhism as an ideology was formulated especially by Yinshun, who was a teacher of not just Zhengyan, but also Bhikkhu Bodhi, the present champion of Engaged Buddhism in America.

There are various approaches to the idea, but basically the notion is that Buddhists should not be cloistered up in mountains or forests away from society. They should be actively engaged in charity work and fighting for social rights. The parallels with other religious movements, particularly liberal Christianity, should not be surprising at all, as the Buddhists got these ideas from them when Buddhism had taken a serious hit from the wars in Asia and communism.

Personally I think the ideology is often misused. At one level, as a pauper you can't help others with their debt. Likewise, as a common being with little wisdom, you can't teach others even the beginnings of the path to liberation. Nevertheless, it is often said that work is practice, and working for your Buddhist organization is meritorious. People often believe that doing mundane tasks for your Buddhist organization, perhaps for free too, is equal if not superior to study and meditation.

This actually ends up being a kind of salvation through good works and faith, rather than being oriented around practice.

You find this in some areas of Theravada as well. I have met bhikkhus from eastern India who insist that if they build clinics, the locals will stop converting to Hinduism. Likewise, in Sri Lanka the bhikkhus are increasingly trying to justify their existence by opening and operating clinics and other such facilities which will aid the locals and perhaps ensure their loyalty to the sangha.

The parallels with Catholicism should be evident.
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:57 am

Kim's link is working for me. Perhaps it's the website itself that was the problem? Seems fine now.
Thanks for posting.
:good:
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:58 pm

Indrajala wrote:
tellyontellyon wrote:What is Engaged Buddhism? What are it's aims, and how should Buddhists engage, generally speaking?



:heart:


In Taiwan and the Chinese Buddhist world it is called Humanistic Buddhism, and is a reaction to perceived past failures of earlier generations coupled with an attempt at emulating the Catholic church, often by their own admission. Zhengyan, the founder of Tzu Chi, for instance, was unable to reply when Catholic nuns asked her what Buddhists did for the downtrodden.

Humanistic Buddhism as an ideology was formulated especially by Yinshun, who was a teacher of not just Zhengyan, but also Bhikkhu Bodhi, the present champion of Engaged Buddhism in America.

There are various approaches to the idea, but basically the notion is that Buddhists should not be cloistered up in mountains or forests away from society. They should be actively engaged in charity work and fighting for social rights. The parallels with other religious movements, particularly liberal Christianity, should not be surprising at all, as the Buddhists got these ideas from them when Buddhism had taken a serious hit from the wars in Asia and communism.

Personally I think the ideology is often misused. At one level, as a pauper you can't help others with their debt. Likewise, as a common being with little wisdom, you can't teach others even the beginnings of the path to liberation. Nevertheless, it is often said that work is practice, and working for your Buddhist organization is meritorious. People often believe that doing mundane tasks for your Buddhist organization, perhaps for free too, is equal if not superior to study and meditation.

This actually ends up being a kind of salvation through good works and faith, rather than being oriented around practice.

You find this in some areas of Theravada as well. I have met bhikkhus from eastern India who insist that if they build clinics, the locals will stop converting to Hinduism. Likewise, in Sri Lanka the bhikkhus are increasingly trying to justify their existence by opening and operating clinics and other such facilities which will aid the locals and perhaps ensure their loyalty to the sangha.

The parallels with Catholicism should be evident.

Hi, Indrajala,
There are parallels with traditional social structures in (at least) South East Asia too, since wats often provided the only schooling in their communities before westernisation encouraged a secular government-funded education system. It still happens, in fact, though I don't know how widespread it is. When I visited a wat near Phnom Penh a couple of years ago I saw a young monk teaching the village children - a social studies lesson, if I remember correctly, but certainly not a religious class.
There is also a long tradition of monks officiating at weddings and/or funerals, depending on the particular culture, e.g. shinto weddings and Buddhist funerals in Japan.
Perhaps we should be asking how much community engagement is desirable for ordained Buddhists, rather than whether there should be any at all. As for lay Buddhists, I guess we can follow the guidelines for monastics if we can work out what they are ...

:juggling:
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:21 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:As for lay Buddhists, I guess we can follow the guidelines for monastics if we can work out what they are ...
Kim


Or more simply, we can look at texts like the Ratnavali by Nāgārjuna which set out in some detail how kings are to set out social policies. .
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:36 pm

M.

Are there similar instructions for Theravadin monks?

Could you elaborate please, what part of Nagarjuna's text are you thinking of; what are the actual instructions?

We have a Queen here in the UK; however, she is a Christian and head of the Church of England. Also, there are many countries, e.g. the USA that are Republics and so don't have a king. What if you have a king that is very hostile to Buddhism? Perhaps his social policy could be damaging? So I could imagine some difficuties arising there.

What is the actual word that Nagarjuna used for 'king'? Etymology is such a tricky area for me. Perhaps it can readily be translated into other types of political/military/economic leaders; or would that be using the term in a way not intended by it's author?

Edit:
As far as I've been able to find out myself Ratnavali was written by Nagarjuna, mainly intended for his friend, king Satavahana. These are instructions for a king, rather than for everybody aren't they?
I might be wrong though, I've only skip read bits of it. I will read a bit more, but if somebody with a better mind me can explain... :namaste: Thanks!

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Nag ... avali.html

I guess what I'm really asking about is... how should ordinary Buddhist people approach social policy?

Edit2:
No. 498.
These doctrines were not just taught
Only for monarchs
But were taught with a wish to help
Other sentient beings as befits them.


It would be at the very end! Typical.

So these are instructions that both monarchs and ordinary Buddhists should follow. Everybody.
“Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:52 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:M.

Are there similar instructions for Theravadin monks?

Could you elaborate please, what part of Nagarjuna's text are you thinking of; what are the actual instructions?



You will have the read the book yourself, I am afraid, but in brief he encourages kings to eliminate capital punishment, provide healthcare, charity, etc.

We have a Queen here in the UK; however, she is a Christian and head of the Church of England. Also, there are many countries, e.g. the USA that are Republics and so don't have a king. What if you have a king that is very hostile to Buddhism? Perhaps his social policy could be damaging? So I could imagine some difficuties arising there.


Buddhism declined in India largely due to the hostilities of Hindu kings. The life stories of the Mahāsiddhas are full of such events.

What is the actual word that Nagarjuna used for 'king'?


Rājā.

He probably authored the text for this king:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satavahana ... 3102_CE.29

This person was the 23rd ruler of the Satavahana dynasty that ruled major portions of India from 230 BCE to 220 CE. You can see how large this kingdom was on the map.

So these are instructions that both monarchs and ordinary Buddhists should follow. Everybody.


Indeed they are.

Nāgārajuna advocated a lowering of excessive tax rates of previous Satavahanas, he advocated market regulation, and so on. Everything you need to conduct yourself and construct a political conscience that accords with Buddhist principles may be found in this book. Not only that, but of course by following the instructions in this book, you will become a perfect bodhisattva.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:51 pm

Nāgārajuna advocated a lowering of excessive tax rates of previous Satavahanas, he advocated market regulation, and so on. Everything you need to conduct yourself and construct a political conscience that accords with Buddhist principles may be found in this book.


I think there is a lot of wisdom in his words. But we have to have some caution too. There is a lot of general good advice here that is generally applicable, but some of the advice was particular to the person he was talking to and the time and situation he was talking about. He was a great philosopher and practitioner, but as Buddhists we don't accept anything as 'god given' absolute truth for all time.
Buddhism isn't a 'revealed' religion and Nagarjuna wasn't a prophet. So we can learn from Nagarjuna and all the great teachers, but we have to think and find out for ourselves too. Every day is a new day, and we can't be bound by a formulaic approach to anything.
My own teacher, Lama Rabsang (Palpung), says the Buddha gave 84'000 teachings, meaning that there are lots of ways of approaching practice, and life. For me, it is important to always keep this in mind when approaching any teachings, scripture, or teachers. It's just good sense.
I think the same must apply to engaged Buddhism.

p.s. thanks for the links.
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby AlexanderS » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:04 pm

True , Nagarjuna wasn't a prophet, he was a fully awakened bodhisattva.
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:47 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:Buddhism isn't a 'revealed' religion...

Mahāyāna Buddhism most certainly is.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:49 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:
Nāgārajuna advocated a lowering of excessive tax rates of previous Satavahanas, he advocated market regulation, and so on. Everything you need to conduct yourself and construct a political conscience that accords with Buddhist principles may be found in this book.


I think there is a lot of wisdom in his words. But we have to have some caution too. There is a lot of general good advice here that is generally applicable, but some of the advice was particular to the person he was talking to and the time and situation he was talking about. He was a great philosopher and practitioner, but as Buddhists we don't accept anything as 'god given' absolute truth for all time.
Buddhism isn't a 'revealed' religion and Nagarjuna wasn't a prophet. So we can learn from Nagarjuna and all the great teachers, but we have to think and find out for ourselves too. Every day is a new day, and we can't be bound by a formulaic approach to anything.
My own teacher, Lama Rabsang (Palpung), says the Buddha gave 84'000 teachings, meaning that there are lots of ways of approaching practice, and life. For me, it is important to always keep this in mind when approaching any teachings, scripture, or teachers. It's just good sense.
I think the same must apply to engaged Buddhism.

p.s. thanks for the links.


The meaning is that there are 21,000 Dharmas to eliminate ignorance, 21,000 Dharmas to eliminate desire, 21,000 Dharmas to eliminate hatred, and 21,000 Dharmas to eliminate the three afflictions in combination, and that's all.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:37 pm

Malcolm wrote:
tellyontellyon wrote:Buddhism isn't a 'revealed' religion...

Mahāyāna Buddhism most certainly is.


But not in the 'blind faith' sense of say Christianity or Islam, we don't have to rely on some higher authority, in the same way that say a Christian may believe 'this is good' or 'that is bad' simply because 'god says so'. We still have to test the teachings, and see how well they work in our present situation.
Like in the Kalama sutra? yes?

We don't have to rely on say the teachings of Nagarjuna, as if every Mahayana teaching has to be accepted and followed or you can't achieve realisation. I'm sure the possibility of realisation existed before, e.g., Nagarjuna.
I'm not picking Nagarjuna's teachings for any particular reason, I'm just using them as an example, this would apply to any teacher.

I mean, if Nagarjuna says put taxes up, or put taxes down or whatever, that is not some sort of creed or confession of faith that we must accept or otherwise not be 'proper' Buddhists, just because 'Nagarjuna says so'... you're not implying that are you?
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby AlexanderS » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:42 pm

I don't think anyone on this board advocates blind faith. However words and teachings that come from fully realized beings carry a lot of weight.
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:50 pm

AlexanderS wrote:I don't think anyone on this board advocates blind faith. However words and teachings that come from fully realized beings carry a lot of weight.


If you accept that he is a fully realised being. That is also a matter testing rather than faith.

Also, I'm not sure that 'fully realised' means omniscient in the sense of knowing what the tax policy should be 100's of years later, or that he would have been able to know how to work an iPod etc. etc. He was still a man of his time. I think fully realised means It means that he understood the nature of reality. Non-duality etc. (if there is an etc. to non-duality :? )
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Re: Engaged Buddhism... what is it?

Postby AlexanderS » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:37 pm

Of course, the Buddhas teach through skillfull means. The former example used before was advice given to a monarch and not to a modern day democracy. What I mean about realized beings words carrying more weight is that their teachings come from their wisdom minds and not from delusion.
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