Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:29 pm

1. To practice social engagement as a Buddhist without being “drummed out of Buddhism” and accused of “staining the Dharma” (Bernie Glassman).

2. To sustain a radical and internationalist Dharma vision (Alan Senauke).

3. To propagate a sense of hope (Bill Aiken).

4. To have contemplative and mindfulness practices accepted by our broader society (Mirabai Bush).

5. To establish emotional and inner strength and balance, and cultivate wisdom and compassion (Mathieu Ricard).

6. To support each other as socially engaged Buddhists (Bernie Glassman).

7. Packaging (Ari Pliskin)


Read more about each one here on the Tricycle blog:

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/?p=2171
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:06 pm

This about states it all to my opinion...


"christine ravenell - August 11, 2010
What do buddhists believe? How did the buddhists religion start and by whom?"
One of the initial comments on the tricycle blog on this issue..

about how Buddhism relates to america and americans.
It made me chuckle.

In Tibet if you told someone you meditate a lot they would think you are claiming great spiritual advancement and are totally ego driven. In the americas they would look at you strangly and think you are very very odd. Not related, but it seems there is a divide here of some sort.

Is Glassman still a Buddhist? I heard he had disavowed the religion most recently to some degree.
Someone once described the jaunts into the homeless communities his groups would entertain at times as a form of spiritual voyerism.....do you suppose that is true? I hold no opinion on that.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby Sonrisa » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:09 pm

ronnewmexico wrote:In Tibet if you told someone you meditate a lot they would think you are claiming great spiritual advancement and are totally ego driven. In the americas they would look at you strangly and think you are very very odd. Not related, but it seems there is a divide here of some sort.


That is why I keep quiet about my spiritual practice.
Namo Amitabha
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

May I continue to practice loving-kindness and compassion for sentient beings. May my friends and loved ones be free from suffering. May those who have hurt me also be free from suffering.

Hatred is like throwing cow dung at someone else. You get dirty first before throwing it to someone else.
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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:41 pm

My appologies to the intial poster for deviating from content....

but I do and don't personally. Depends on the person asking and the context. I tend towards the telling as few in america see any alternative to the theist way of doing things. We may provide such a alternative example in certain contexts and to certain peoples. And in the America's since they just think we may be quite odd, there is little chance of ego enhancement. Certainly to a temple auidence or other Buddhists I would generally not mention such a thing, they would automatically take it as ego enhancement.

Of course if you travel in certain circles in Santa Fe for instance it may be a ego enhancement thing as well. Most of my circles are strictly blue collar knowing not a bit on these things so the odd looks I don't mind. Occasionally I will get questions on these things as result. So odd looks opposeing questions...the question usually win out. I find almost without exception, no blue collar workers in american are buddhists or know anything about them. I find no buddhists (unless the person is asian) on construction job sites or some such. To a certain class of peoples this thing is totally unknown.

I'd say generally the more crass the individual portrays.....completely greedy spiteful money oriented noncompassionate....the more inclineded I am to tell/show them the exact opposite. Of course in a circumstance such as a prison that would probably not work to well. But ego...since they see those things as weaknesses(the opposites) is little involved. To show opposition to that way of thinking is to my opinion necessary in the Americas at times. So many think that way it is the norm.

To deviate a bit even more....I just very recently had a crass individual talk to me about the death of George Steinbrenner....telling me how what a ruthless businessman he was and extolling at length his successes in that field.To which I respond...how I knew this man to be spiritually very compassinate and repeated many times how compassionate he was and how he displayed this compassion in his business interactions in many many sometimes unpublic ways.

This same individual brags about killing helpless wild animals for fun. To which I respond the necessity of not doing such and its spiritual basis, and will indeed make show of taking a bug out of harms way for his viewing(though I do that silently many times a day as probably most here do).. Of course he thinks I am quite mad....but to hear only his voice and not mine, where this occurs and to keep quiet about this thing and things that comprise my personal spiritual practice...no I personally advocate usually for the inverse. The other voice must be heard. There are none others speaking that other voice...not a one(to clarify in this particular specific circumstance) . It is not I am great or any of that, but there is no one else to say these things that must be said.

Of course in prison(or temple), I may keep quite quiet if I was there as mentioned. So it is circumstantial.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:27 pm

Well in general engaged Buddhism has to do good (Ricard's statement). In terms of the US we have to be a light showing the savagery of ruthlessness, hedonism and monetary maximization as a measure of the highest good.



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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:48 pm

kirtu wrote:Well in general engaged Buddhism has to do good (Ricard's statement). In terms of the US we have to be a light showing the savagery of ruthlessness, hedonism and monetary maximization as a measure of the highest good.



Kirt


Very well spoken Kirt! I agree 100%.
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Re: Top Seven Challenges of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:57 pm

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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