What is engaged Buddhism?

A discussion on all aspects of Engaged Buddhism
chownah
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by chownah »

When you say "only a consensus of half a dozen DWE members" you are in effect diluting the meaning of consensus to simply mean 'agreement'.....if a few people agree to something it does not constitute a consensus I think. To really have a real consensus (in my opinion) you must start with a well defined group and then propose some idea or action which many support and with which no one disagrees to the point of stopping group action or group acceptance of the idea.....to group together all the members of a group which agree to something does not mean there is a consensus in my view.
I guess I'm off topic but don't know for sure....but it might be instructive to consider why anyone would want consensus.....for what purpose: consensus?
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

chownah wrote: Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:50 am When you say "only a consensus of half a dozen DWE members" you are in effect diluting the meaning of consensus ...
I said it was a very weak consensus. You have have agreed. That's enough.

:focus:

:thanks:
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Leeuwenhoek
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Leeuwenhoek »

Dhammanando suggests a distinction between dhamma practice per se and the social arrangements that support the practice of it/are optimal for it.

Maintaining (un-collapsing) and collapsing this distinction seems to explain a portion of the debate. Things look different when one un-collapses the distinction!
It's an interpretive frame for understanding engaged Buddhism that makes sense of the Pali cannon and later suttas.
Dhammanando wrote: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:54 pm The politically relevant Pali texts are not for the most part concerned with Dhamma practice per se, but rather with outlining the sort of social arrangements that are optimal for it.
This distinction seems to parallel the Mahayana frame of ultimate truth (dharma practice) and relative truth (practice and action that supports ultimate truth)?
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Leeuwenhoek wrote: Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:18 pm Dhammanando suggests a distinction between dhamma practice per se and the social arrangements that support the practice of it/are optimal for it.
Dhammanando wrote: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:54 pm The politically relevant Pali texts are not for the most part concerned with Dhamma practice per se, but rather with outlining the sort of social arrangements that are optimal for it.
Yes, you're right - and I'm sure Dhammanando is right.
Leeuwenhoek wrote: Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:18 pm Maintaining (un-collapsing) and collapsing this distinction seems to explain a portion of the debate. Things look different when one un-collapses the distinction!
It's an interpretive frame for understanding engaged Buddhism that makes sense of the Pali cannon and later suttas.
Not really. Engaged Buddhism is all about "Dhamma practice per se" and not at all about "the sort of social arrangements that are optimal for it." One could even argue that the sort of social arrangements that are optimal for (monastic) Dhamma practice offer fewer opportunities for (lay) Engaged Buddhism because there are fewer social ills to engage with.
Leeuwenhoek wrote: Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:18 pm This distinction seems to parallel the Mahayana frame of ultimate truth (dharma practice) and relative truth (practice and action that supports ultimate truth)?
Not in any way that I can see.

:namaste:
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chownah
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by chownah »

What some people see as "politically relevant pali texts" (political relevance is a function of personal political perspective I think) are not nearly so relevant to buddhists who do not accept the pali texts as being the most important thing in their practice.....that is to say that engaged buddhists might be more strongly influenced by other things....some of these influences may be from buddhist texts other than the pali and some of these influences may come from places other than buddhist texts.
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Dharmasherab
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Dharmasherab »

Here is my take on this question taken from a previous post I made -

"Engaged Buddhism is the extension of core principles within the Buddha Dharma into non-spiritual domains such as human rights, global politics, animal rights, pacifism, diet etc. The idea is not only to limit one’s involvement with Buddhism to the practices mentioned in texts but also to apply those same principles to all different aspects of life as well as for the progressive improvement of society.
Please do notice that Engaged Buddhism is not a homogenous movement where those who are ‘engaged’ have to conform to the ideals in all different domains covered by Engaged Buddhism. For example, an Engaged Buddhist who is a pacifist may not have strong opinions on animal rights while another Engaged Buddhist may be active in expressing concern for the environment but may not hold strong political beliefs. Therefore, Engaged Buddhism should be seen as more of a fluid concept where individuals are engaged in various domains rather than a concrete definition where individuals have to meet all the expectations according to the ideals implied by the idea of Engaged Buddhism. Engaged Buddhists can be found in any type of Buddhist school (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana)"
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

:goodpost:

...although, of course, alternative descriptions and definitions will also be valid, since "Engaged Buddhism is not a homogenous movement," as you say.

:namaste:
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Cinnabar
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Cinnabar »

One of the questions I have is the extent to which "engaged Buddhism" is a private personal practice or a public collective practice?

Most of my practice and study is informed by Tibetan traditions, and many of my dharma friends will point out that Tibetan Buddhism is not engaged Buddhism. Why? Because of its emphasis on personal study, practice and even solitary retreat. Time spent on the cushion is not time spent in service to others.

A legitimate observation.

My counter is to point out the compassionate and humanitarian activities different teachers, dharma siblings, and even myself are involved with. And there many of my dharma friends will point out that these are personal choices and activities, and not a collective sangha activity-- and thus not engaged Buddhism.

A legitimate observation as well.

For me "engaged Buddhism" is a way of informing myself how to make my study and practice pragmatic and service to others. Through social and political engagement as well as simply my personal choices.

Seen in another way, "engaged Buddhism" seems to be a way of bringing traditional sanghas to forms of social engagement and justice. As an example I have seen sanghas do things like stage voters registration, teach meditation in different contexts, stage disaster relief.

And yet another way, "engaged Buddhism" seems to be a whole new form of Buddhism. As examples Angel Kyodo Williams, late Bernie Glassman, Gary Snyder... really any number...
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Dorje Shedrub
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Dorje Shedrub »

HHDL is one of the most engaged Buddhists ever, and he of course is Tibetan. He also teaches us to be engaged with both the environment and each other. I think that our practices of chod tonglen, shitro, phowa, animal release, saying mantras, etc. fall under engaged Buddhism, imo. There are also many lamas who have foundations that help support sangha, food for the hungry, educational programs, etc.

DS
"As far as social economic theory is concerned, I am Marxist. " ~ HHDL
Presto Kensho
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Presto Kensho »

What if engaged Buddhism is just an unnecessary buzz word? All religions should participate in acts of charity and justice. What makes Buddhism unique in that regard?

Today, I made a small donation to the Meher Baba Charitable Trust, which has been providing free medical care to India's poor since before engaged Buddhism was part of the popular consciousness:
https://www.meherfund.org/history/

People should do the right thing because it's the right thing, regardless of their religious affiliation.
NA Buddhist
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by NA Buddhist »

Engaged Buddhism as a matter of observation of actual behavior and beliefs as reflected by polling is a modern interpretation of Buddhism (Buddhist Modernism) that privileges a politically left wing secular ideology. It's as if a branch of early Buddhism was dominated by Brahmins who regularly overlooked the Buddha's 'inconvenient' actual practice and teaching regarding existing religions and ethnic practices.
I, personally, don’t have a problem with Buddhists who are politically engaged. But I do have a problem with politically engaged Buddhists. The trouble for me comes when the flag of Buddhism is used in the service of political causes — when monks in robes lead the political rally against Trump or Buddhists hold a “meditation for xx cause”. It is a corruption of Buddhist teachings in the service of something mundane.

In exactly the same way that fundamentalist and evangelical Christians have been usurped and corrupted by right wing politics, Buddhists are at risk of being corrupted by the politics of the left.
- comment at https://loveofallwisdom.com/blog/2018/0 ... ed-voices/
.
  • A sign of a healthy engaged practice would be a explicit recognition that view point diversity is perhaps the most important practice of diversity for social justice.
  • It would recognize that left wing politics is a privileged secular viewpoint with in engaged Buddhism in western countries.
  • Those who take White Privilege seriously would also take this ideological privilege with similar mindfulness.
  • Universities also face a systemic privileging of left wing viewpoints. The solution offered by Heterodox Academy (https://heterodoxacademy.org) is a worthy model for engaged Buddhism.
  • Yet a third healthy viewpoint would come from a Transpartisan engaged Buddhist practice.

LINKS
We believe that the best way to prevent orthodoxy from taking root within the academy is by fostering three key principles: open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement.

Rigorous, open, and responsible engagement across lines of difference is essential to separate good ideas from bad, and to make good ideas better. Scholars and students must develop the habits of heart (e.g., empathy, perspective taking) and mind (e.g., humility, curiosity) necessary to evaluate claims, sources, and evidence; and to reason carefully–and compassionately–about the world.

In an environment that is insufficiently open, facts can be corrupted or suppressed for the benefit of special interests. Important innovations can be set back or outright snuffed out. Avoidable problems can fester and spread. Personal and intellectual growth can be stunted.
-- https://heterodoxacademy.org/the-problem/
.
Transpartisan Review, a digital journal of politics, society, and culture http://www.transpartisanreview.org
https://icccr.tc.columbia.edu/resources ... nizations/
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Ceisiwr
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Progressives and socialists with a penchant for Buddhism.
Presto Kensho
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Presto Kensho »

Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:06 am Progressives and socialists with a penchant for Buddhism.
Is Thich Nhat Hanh a socialist? Didn't he flee Vietnamese socialism?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Presto Kensho wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:18 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:06 am Progressives and socialists with a penchant for Buddhism.
Is Thich Nhat Hanh a socialist? Didn't he flee Vietnamese socialism?
No idea. I have barely read his work so I'm not familiar with him.
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DNS
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by DNS »

Presto Kensho wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:18 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:06 am Progressives and socialists with a penchant for Buddhism.
Is Thich Nhat Hanh a socialist? Didn't he flee Vietnamese socialism?
He doesn't discuss politics directly in the form of left vs. right, but more in terms of nonviolence, anti-war, and social and environmental justice.

He's very anti-war and at the time of the Vietnam War protests, it was mostly the liberals and leftists who were anti-war. Today, it is much more complicated. Sometimes you see progressives advocating for war, sometimes conservatives, or most of the time both. Libertarians are mostly classified as right wing (at least in terms of economics) and they are very anti-war.

TNH's 14 mindfulness trainings provides some hints at his political positions:
https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-pra ... trainings/
The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Compassionate, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, we are determined not to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying nor to take as the aim of our life fame, power, wealth, or sensual pleasure, which can bring much suffering and despair.
There is almost no time when there are not people hungry and dying; so does he mean no one should accumulate wealth? If so, that would be far-leftist.
We are determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. We will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.
Here TNH acknowledges people's right to property, which is right wing, in terms of economics.
The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting and Nourishing the Sangha

Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal power or profit, or transform our community into a political instrument. As members of a spiritual community, we should nonetheless take a clear stand against oppression and injustice. We should strive to change the situation, without taking sides in a conflict.
This appears reasonable and mostly centrist, since it avoids taking sides.
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Nicholas
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Nicholas »

As long as billions have no belief in or understanding of rebirth & karma, foolish notions of root causes for many human distinctions will continue to proliferate.

:(
May all seek, find and follow the Path of Buddhas.
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SethRich
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by SethRich »

Greetings,
Nicholas wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:47 pm As long as billions have no belief in or understanding of karma, foolish notions of root causes for many human distinctions will continue to proliferate.
This is a good point. I was explaining to someone on the weekend, how the Dharma is about what is experienced (phenomenology) and the causality behind what is experienced, as opposed to what exists or does not exist (ontology) and the causality behind that.

When Buddhist teachers become engaged and strip that causality away from phenomenology to place it on some academic sociology, rooted in Critical Race Theory, then not only are they perpetuating harm and delusion, they're dragging Buddhism further away from the Blessed One's teaching.

:candle:
"He goes to hell, the one who asserts what didn’t take place" (Ud 4.8)
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

"Transition to greatness" (Donald J. Trump)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."
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Nicholas
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by Nicholas »

As DNS said - "a very non-PC sutta".
It is the way people live that makes them how they are, whether short-lived or long lived, sickly or healthy, ugly or lovely, insignificant or illustrious, poor or rich, in a low class or eminent family, or witless or wise. Sentient beings are the owners of their deeds and heir to their deeds. Deeds are their womb, their relative, and their refuge. It is deeds that divide beings into inferior and superior.
https://suttacentral.net/mn135/en/sujato

All buddhadharma is non-PC!
May all seek, find and follow the Path of Buddhas.
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SethRich
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Re: What is engaged Buddhism?

Post by SethRich »

Greetings,

That quote should be sufficient in itself to stop Buddhists from being Marxists and neo-Pagans, but apparently for some, secular ideologies trump the Dharma.

:toilet:

:candle:
"He goes to hell, the one who asserts what didn’t take place" (Ud 4.8)
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

"Transition to greatness" (Donald J. Trump)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."
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