mr. gordo wrote:
1. To practice social engagement as a Buddhist without being “drummed out of Buddhism” and accused of “staining the Dharma” (Bernie Glassman).
To whom is Mr Glassman's concern addressed? That is, who is concerned to "drum" anyone out of the Dharma world on the basis of engaged Buddhist practice? Does this comment reflect a real concern, or is this just an anxiety about critique?
2. To sustain a radical and internationalist Dharma vision (Alan Senauke).
This is a very good one. The word "radical" in its etymological sense means a return to the root. Buddhist practice aspires to do precisely that, strike at the root of suffering in an uncompromising way. It's not about accomodating to whatever social norms might make you feel better about yourself or gain you some kind of social status (see #4 on that). "Internationalist" is also important here as a reminder that global Buddhism is a consequence of globalization as such, which is itself a process that is productive of much suffering. (See Mike Davis, Planet of Slums
, or really anything by David Harvey.)
4. To have contemplative and mindfulness practices accepted by our broader society (Mirabai Bush).
I really don't see how this is necessary or even particularly useful. Who cares what anyone thinks of our contemplative practices? Who cares if anyone thinks we're swell because we meditate? Leave that for Oprah and the spirituality industry. What matters is our actions. Socially-engaged Buddhism is about doing Buddhist work in the public sphere. The quality of our public actions are the real criterion of action. I can't imagine a way to justify Ms Bush's argument here.
EDIT: ...unless she means to suggest that the task of engaged Buddhism is to popularize Buddhist meditation. The logic here would be straightforward: more meditators means less suffering in the world. OK. But isn't this simply an argument for proselytizing, as distinct from engaged Buddhist practice as such in the world? I think the best way to convince others that our practices are worthy are by doing them in earnest and then just doing our thing, and letting the fruits of our practice do the talking.
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