I don't remember any story of the Buddha providing for the material needs of people like Jesus with his loaves of bread.
During much of Buddha's story, he is the mendicant. Were it not for the culture in which he resided, which admired and supported spiritual seekers, he would have been in bad shape. How can we do less than was done for Buddha?
I think you may misunderstand what Buddhism actually is.
Quite an assumption....
Indeed. The times were much different, but Buddha's compassion was not so different.
Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
That is useless when people actively prevent the man from fishing...
Most places, one could not even legally be a mendicant, today, much less find free water or open land.
Viniketa, with due respect, I don't think you quite grasp the issue that is being discussed.
The Buddha being a mendicant in a society that supported mendicants is a different matter than Kirt's judgment that we fail to practice Buddhism because we do not drop everything and answer his call to justice in the limited manner he asserts is the measure of whether someone practices Buddhism. The Buddha lived in a place that enabled one to become a mendicant more easily, but as far as I know, giving is not a commandment. It is a behavior that is encouraged, but the Buddha never demanded that people give alms or that it was required. We give when we can, we give what we can. And in turn, the Buddha taught his disciples to accept what is given without judgment. In fact, one of the reasons the Buddha promulgated the Vinaya is to make the sangha admirable to lay people who would then be inspired to give to them - not because they have to, but because they want to.
What you both seem to miss is that I am not denying anything in particular asserted as "good". Some of it may be good, some may not - much of it is a matter of politics for which this is not the appropriate forum. My point is that there is more to practicing Buddhadharma, which may include some of the things Kirt calls for, but even acting otherwise can still be Buddhist practice. It can include generosity, but doesn't have to, or isn't required in any particular manner. It could be advocacy on behalf of others - I've argued that advocacy for justice could be bodhisattva practice in the past (not that anyone would necessarily know that I did this). It could be agitation for changes in laws and policy - there are many Buddhists who see their activist work as intimately related to their Buddhist practice. But Buddhist practice is not limited to any one of these things, and I don't see the justification in questioning people's Buddhist bona fides if they don't do what Kirt expects of them.
What I reject is Kirt's limitations on what defines Buddhist behavior.
Maybe most places you can't be a mendicant. Come to NYC - very easy to be a mendicant here. My panhandler acquaintances tell me they can make $100 an hour and more in the right spots and food is abundant. It would be a matter of conditioning people to recognize mendicants and to give to them here. I'm not joking at all. Its something I thought about when I was younger and had fewer attachments.
As Buddhists, we have a different approach to resolving the problems of the world.
In which sutra do you find this teaching?
This is the approach I was referring to above.
As a practicing Buddhist, my efforts begin with reforming myself and sharing the Buddhadharma with others. Sharing Buddhadharma means conducting myself with effort and aspiration toward Buddhist ideals - loving kindness, compassion, generaosity, etc., as well as actually sharing literal Buddhadharma. When I share Buddhadharma with others, I give them the opportunity to begin the long, arduous task of reforming themselves, and they then share in turn also, ad infinitum - or up to 6 Billion people. And when all six billion are reforming themselves and sharing Buddhadharma, we'll have a mutually supportive civilization where each person is concerned with the enlightenment of all others - an idealized Pure Land.
That is the Bodhisattva path, is it not? Practice for oneself and for others - the characteristic that distinguishes the Bodhisattva vehicle from the Individual Vehicle.
As for how Buddhist practice transforms the world...
In which sutra do you not find this?
According to the 4 Noble Truths, how do you cure suffering? By cutting off ignorance.
"The mind is a skilled painter" -Avatamsaka
"When sentient beings see themselves
Amidst a conflagration
At the end of a kalpa,
It is in fact my tranquil land,
Always full of devas and humans.
All the gardens and palaces
Are adorned with various gems.
The jeweled trees abound with flowers and fruits,
And the sentient beings are joyful among them.
The devas beat heavenly drums
Making constant and varied music.
They rain down māndārava flowers
Upon the Buddha and the great assembly.
Although my Pure Land never decays,
The sentient beings see it as ravaged by fire
And torn with anxiety and distress;
They believe it is filled with these things.
Because of their misdeeds
These erring sentient beings do not hear
The name of the Three Treasures
For incalculable kalpas.
But all who cultivate merit,
And are receptive and honest,
Will see me residing here,
Expounding the Dharma."
-the Lotus Sutra
“It is through the transgressions of sentient beings that they do not see the purity of the Tathāgata‟s (i.e., the Buddha land). This is not the Tathāgata‟s fault! Śāriputra, this land of mine is pure, but you do not see it."