Staying away from activism?

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Staying away from activism?

Postby Virgo » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:50 am

kirtu wrote:
Virgo wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Music, what you describe is a way to rationalise an unwillingness to help.

As Josef explained there is no greater activism than seaking enlightenment. A Buddha can manifest limitless forms to help sentient beings. The yogi in the cave does as much for others as the volunterr in the Peace Corps.


The yogi in the cave is a long way from Buddhahood. Has Jamgon Kongtrul manifested Buddhahood for example? He has done great things over lifetimes but people are still hungry, hopeless, being killed, being destroyed. The Peace Corps volunteer might have done some positive things and helped change some people's lives. Some bodhisattvas are actually helping people and then showing them Dharma in a form appropriate for them.

Our world is drowning in poverty and the results of that poverty. While samsara can't be fixed, we can still save beings from abject misery and guide them to Dharma. Instead we write them off my neglecting their very real material needs.

Kirt

The majority of peoples that don't have anything are in that situation because governments, and powers that be in general supress them. This is true on every continent. The psy-op is that they are impoverished because foreign or local folks didn't do enough for them.

These powers that be keep us all pitted against each other, addicted to the products produced and services given to the point that we can't or don't even help out those in need in our local communities by sharing food with them, or taking care of them if they can't take care of themselves for whatever reasons, and so forth.

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Re: Staying away from activism?

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:25 am

kirtu wrote:
Virgo wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Music, what you describe is a way to rationalise an unwillingness to help.

As Josef explained there is no greater activism than seaking enlightenment. A Buddha can manifest limitless forms to help sentient beings. The yogi in the cave does as much for others as the volunterr in the Peace Corps.


The yogi in the cave is a long way from Buddhahood. Has Jamgon Kongtrul manifested Buddhahood for example? He has done great things over lifetimes but people are still hungry, hopeless, being killed, being destroyed. The Peace Corps volunteer might have done some positive things and helped change some people's lives. Some bodhisattvas are actually helping people and then showing them Dharma in a form appropriate for them.

Our world is drowning in poverty and the results of that poverty. While samsara can't be fixed, we can still save beings from abject misery and guide them to Dharma. Instead we write them off my neglecting their very real material needs.

Kirt


:good:
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .
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Re: Staying away from activism?

Postby catmoon » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:03 am

The Buddha has come and gone. Yet still there is suffering. If one can figure out why this is, a good approach to activism becomes clear.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: Staying away from activism?

Postby Luke » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:38 pm

Music wrote:Must Buddhists stay away from activism lest we develop attachment to the world?

Clearly not. If your practice is to do a long solitary retreat, then by all means do it, but if you are just a lay Buddhist, then invevitably you will encounter other people and it makes sense to try and benefit them somehow.

"Activism" is a very political word. There are activists who accomplish great things and then there are activists who are just angry, noisy, and immature and who create more problems than they solve. So I don't think that "activism" is necessarily needed, but I think it would be great if more Buddhists got involved in some simple types of community service or simply found small ways to be kinder and more helpful to the people around them.

I am always in awe of people who are good parents because I don't have any kids and I can't imagine such a huge responsibility, but the example of good parents is an inspiring one for me, and Mahayana Buddism teaches that we should try to care about other beings as if there are our own children. Once you have that view, it's not a matter of "Should I do something to help people?" it's more a matter of "What should I do next to help people?"

Music wrote: I am not saying we must be cold and uncaring, but must we practice holy indifference with respect to the world? I will give an example. There are the poor and sick. Many NGOs and charities are already doing what they can, plus there are rich philanthropists who also do their bit. In this context, our so-called activism is practically redundant, useless. Others, who are more powerful and richer, are doing a better job already and our contributions won't be missed.

Buddhists don't always have to work on such a large scale. Just cheering someone up or introducing a receptive person to the Dharma can be great things by themselves.

Music wrote:So my point is: must people like us, who are living normal lives and not from privileged backgrounds, ignore the world completely and focus only on our salvation (not because one is uncaring and selfish but because there are other privileged folks who are in a position to care).

The more you observe your "self," the more you'll see that it's interconnected with everything else and both affects and is affected by other beings.
And even if you are doing a long solitary retreat, if you are a Mahayana Buddhist, you will keep the desire to benefit all beings foremost in your mind during that time.
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Re: Staying away from activism?

Postby nilakantha » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:41 am

When I think about the positive duties of a bodhisattva in the world, the vows made by Queen Śrīmāla come to mind:
(6) "Lord, from now on, and until I attain enlightenment, I hold to this sixth vow, that I shall not accumulate wealth for my own use, but shall deal with it to assist the poor and friendless.
(7) "Lord, from now on, and until I attain enlightenment, I hold to this seventh vow, that with the four articles of conversion I shall benefit the sentient beings and not convert them for my own sake; indeed, I shall seek to convert the sentient beings with my mind unoccupied with material things, ever unsatisfied, and not retreating.
(8) "Lord, from now on, and until I attain enlightenment, I hold to this eighth vow, that when in the future I observe sentient beings who are friendless, trapped and bound, diseased, troubled, poor and miserable, I shall not forsake them for a single moment until they are restored. Lord, seeing them afflicted by suffering, I shall liberate them from each of those sufferings; having conferred goods upon them, I shall leave them.
(9) "Lord, from now on, and until I attain enlightenment, I hold to this ninth vow, that when I see persons with sinful occupations such as dealing in pigs, and those who violate the Doctrine and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, I shall not take it lightly; and wherever my residence in towns, villages, cities, districts, and capitals, I shall destroy what should be destroyed and shall foster what should be fostered. Why so? Lord, by destroying and by fostering, the Illustrious Doctrine will long remain in the world, the bodies of gods and men will thrive, and evil destinies will fade. And the Lord, having turned the Wheel of the Doctrine, will continue to turn the Wheel of the Doctrine.
May I be a poet in birth after birth, a devotee of the feet of Lord Avalokiteśvara,
with elevated heart, spontaneously directed towards his Refuge,
wholly occupied with the solemn duty of saving others.

--Lokeshvarashatakam of Vajradatta
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