Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Engaged Buddhism
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Dhammanando
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Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:58 am

In the latest issue of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.

Abstract:
Disengaged Buddhism

Amod Lele, Boston University

Contemporary engaged Buddhist scholars typically claim either that Buddhism always endorsed social activism, or that its non-endorsement of such activism represented an unwitting lack of progress. This article examines several classical South Asian Buddhist texts that explicitly reject social and political activism. These texts argue for this rejection on the grounds that the most important sources of suffering are not something that activism can fix, and that political involvement interferes with the tranquility required for liberation. The article then examines the history of engaged Buddhism in order to identify why this rejection of activism has not yet been taken sufficiently seriously.
It's 53 pages and I've only just started it, but I thought the article might interest some posters here, if only to serve as a foil.

http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethi ... d-buddhism

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fwiw
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Re: Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

Post by fwiw » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:32 am

Bhante, if I may ask, would you say that the Cakkavatti is not an engaged Buddhist?

Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engaged_Buddhism
... in my opinion

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Dhammanando
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Re: Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:10 pm

fwiw wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:32 am
Bhante, if I may ask, would you say that the Cakkavatti is not an engaged Buddhist?
I'm afraid I don't at the moment have any opinion on the matter. It just isn't something that I've ever thought about. However, I've just got to the part where Lele discusses the cakkavatti rājā, so I may have an opinion later.

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fwiw
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Re: Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

Post by fwiw » Wed Nov 20, 2019 4:04 pm

I think what this text makes clear is that social engagement is a lesser form of practice that indeed can lead one astray and is not very suitable for monastics

But why pointing the finger at those who are still moving towards the goal, although at a slower pace? The important thing is that they do not lose sight of the goal. Maybe that's all they can manage for various reasons.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four? The one who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others. The one who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own. The one who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others. The one who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others.

"Just as a firebrand from a funeral pyre — burning at both ends, covered with excrement in the middle — is used as fuel neither in a village nor in the wilderness: I tell you that this is a simile for the individual who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others. The individual who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own is the higher & more refined of these two. The individual who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others is the highest & most refined of these three. The individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others is, of these four, the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme. Just as from a cow comes milk; from milk, curds; from curds, butter; from butter, ghee; from ghee, the skimmings of ghee; and of these, the skimmings of ghee are reckoned the foremost — in the same way, of these four, the individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others is the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme.

"These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in the world."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four? The one who practices for his own benefit but not for that of others. The one who practices for the benefit of others but not for his own. The one who practices neither for his own benefit nor for that of others. The one who practices for his own benefit and for that of others.

"And how is one an individual who practices for his own benefit but not for that of others? There is the case where a certain individual himself abstains from the taking of life but doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from the taking of life. He himself abstains from stealing but doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from stealing. He himself abstains from sexual misconduct but doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from sexual misconduct. He himself abstains from lying but doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from lying. He himself abstains from intoxicants that cause heedlessness but doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Such is the individual who practices for his own benefit but not for that of others.

"And how is one an individual who practices for the benefit of others but not for his own? There is the case where a certain individual himself doesn't abstain from the taking of life but encourages others in undertaking abstinence from the taking of life. He himself doesn't abstain from stealing but encourages others in undertaking abstinence from stealing. He himself doesn't abstain from sexual misconduct but encourages others in undertaking abstinence from sexual misconduct. He himself doesn't abstain from lying but encourages others in undertaking abstinence from lying. He himself doesn't abstain from intoxicants that cause heedlessness but encourages others in undertaking abstinence from intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Such is the individual who practices for the benefit of others but not for his own.

"And how is one an individual who practices neither for his own benefit nor for that of others? There is the case where a certain individual himself doesn't abstain from the taking of life and doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from the taking of life. He himself doesn't abstain from stealing and doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from stealing. He himself doesn't abstain from sexual misconduct and doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from sexual misconduct. He himself doesn't abstain from lying and doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from lying. He himself doesn't abstain from intoxicants that cause heedlessness and doesn't encourage others in undertaking abstinence from intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Such is the individual who practices neither for his own benefit nor for that of others.

"And how is one an individual who practices for his own benefit and for that of others? There is the case where a certain individual himself abstains from the taking of life and encourages others in undertaking abstinence from the taking of life. He himself abstains from stealing and encourages others in undertaking abstinence from stealing. He himself abstains from sexual misconduct and encourages others in undertaking abstinence from sexual misconduct. He himself abstains from lying and encourages others in undertaking abstinence from lying. He himself abstains from intoxicants that cause heedlessness and encourages others in undertaking abstinence from intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Such is the individual who practices for his own benefit and for that of others.

"These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in the world."

It seems that from these core texts, encouraging people in society to value the five precepts (through art, politics, a youtube channel...), can be a worthy form of practice, all the more if one observes those five.

I think the author of the article went a little overboard in failing to present his ideas as subjective assessments open to debate and in presenting them instead as absolute truths.
... in my opinion

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SethRich
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Re: Amod Lele on Disengaged Buddhism

Post by SethRich » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:29 pm

Greetings bhante,

Thanks for sharing. It's always useful to know about the pro, cons, and potential pitfalls of any endeavour.

I look forward to having the opportunity to read this properly in due course.

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

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

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