What is modern Buddhism for?

I watched 13th recently. And “I Am Not Your Negro”. (You can get them on Netflix and Amazon, respectively.) They are both such well observed and eye-popping documentaries that I now want everyone to watch them – well, especially if you are anything like me and have been living in a bubble of privilege, uncomprehending and shocked as to why the USA “suddenly” seems to be so racist and mean, suddenly seems to be going “backwards” (when perhaps it was never progressing quite as forwardly as some of us thought.)


The questions stirring my mind these days are how I, as a modern Buddhist, can help bring an end to racism and all other forms of discrimination, selfishness, and intolerance – and not just in some distant, delayed Pure Land, but here and now in this world, given that we are all in this together. I know Buddhism has the ideas. I know some of these ideas, such as love and fairness, are of course shared by other traditions too. My questions are how to share these ideas wider, most effectively and appropriately.

It is a work in progress and I welcome your comments on how you are doing it – some of you have already shared some useful observations on the last two articles.  For me, I will contribute by chatting on this blog and to anyone else who may be interested. I have been listening most recently to people, both lay and ordained, who have brought Buddha’s insights into prisons, to great effect, and into the favelas in Rio and townships in Cape Town, and into film-making, and into brave new visions for renewing our broken social systems.


Modern Buddhism is surely not about escapism; it cannot be about navel-gazing. I think we need to gain gradual experience of these teachings while sharing them in as many practical ways as we can. I know Buddhist software developers, social activists, doctors, healers, artists, directors, performers, prison officers, entrepreneurs, and so on, who are increasingly bringing these ideas into play to change their professions and their own and others’ lives, to change society, to reimagine our world.


This may sound obvious — that there are Buddhist practitioners appearing in all fields — but it was not always so. When I first got involved with the Kadampa Buddhist tradition 36 years ago, it had just come out of Tibet, not surprisingly dragging along the cultural accretions of a monastic-oriented and somewhat archaic values of a very static society. I hate to say this, but there was a view for a few years back in the day that if you were not a monk or a nun, you were not a full or proper Buddhist. If you were not living in a Buddhist center, you were not a proper Buddhist. If you had a regular day job, you were not a proper Buddhist. And if you had children, goodness me, you had pretty much thrown your precious human life away.

Those anachronistic basically Tibetan notions all went out of the window a very long time ago and surprisingly rapidly, thanks in large part to the vision, skill, and courage of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Working closely with his students, he has modernized the presentation of Buddhism in umpteen far-reaching and radical ways, all while managing to keep the meaning of the teachings intact and flourishing the lay and ordained community. This means that there is an ever increasing number of good examples of how to be a Buddhist, Bodhisattva, and Tantric Yogi.

As a result, this tradition has exploded in size and relevance. And I believe this modern Buddhism is still evolving to catch up with Geshe Kelsang’s vision!

planet earth

Which of Buddha’s insights could be of benefit to help our modern world? If you ask me, all of them! They are all methods for purifying and transforming our minds and actions, and thereby purifying and transforming our actual world, including everyone in it. And they boil down to wisdom and compassion, as explained in this last excellent guest article. As Geshe Kelsang says:

Developing compassion and wisdom and helping those in need is the true meaning of life.

For example, wisdom can be seen to range from an understanding that happiness and suffering are states of mind whose main causes depend upon the mind, right through to an understanding that everything, even the tiniest atom, depends upon our minds. The things we normally see, vis a vis things outside the mind or independent of the mind, do not exist — everything is mere name, mere projection. Everything is dream-like, everything is illusion. Our ignorance veils the truth; we need to pull that veil aside. We need to help ourselves and everyone else overcome their ignorance on every level because ignorance is what keeps us trapped in systems that have never worked and never will.

Compassion ranges from an understanding that we are all equal and interconnected, breaking down the pernicious “us and them” mentality, through to a universal empathy that finds the suffering of all living beings more unbearable than our own and seeks to permanently dispel it.

All these ideas are rooted in the idea of our potential for change — our innate compassion and wisdom — a potential that is enormous, infinite, and that can start functioning right now if we let it. And if we add the transcendent vision of Tantra, we are able to bring about results very quickly indeed.  prism

It also seems to me that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso — in many ways the modern Buddhist master for our time – has been pointing for a long time to the possibility of Buddha’s teachings bringing about actual world peace. In his Buddha Maitreya teachings of 2009, for example, he said, as I quoted earlier:

If everybody followed this view — sincerely believe there is no enemy other than our delusions — all our problems that come from fighting and war will be ceased permanently. Following this view is the best method to make world peace. Unfortunately, everybody denies or neglects Buddha’s view, his intention. So we want world peace, everybody says, “World peace, world peace!”; but no-one understands how to do this.

My feeling is that it is on us to help people understand, alongside gaining experience ourselves. How? Through our own practice, example, conversations, and social engagement. Through not hiding away these ideas or ourselves out of modesty or a fear of offending, but engaging our bodhichitta into the world around us, sharing any experience far and wide in as many contexts as we can.

Not trying to make everyone into a Buddhist either — most people will not become Buddhists but they are still welcome to apply these ideas.

To finish, here is some food for thought from a comment on this last article:

Compassion that is based in wisdom is the only effective way to change this dreamlike world. Geshe Kelsang explains why so eloquently at the end of the Great Compassion chapter in How to Transform Your Life. Changing our mind directly changes the experience of the world because there is no world outside of our experience of it! With wisdom and faith, we can experience that change directly and others will experience it through our example and influence. World peace is possible if we change our mind today.

Summer Festival.jpg

More to come, including hopefully some of your comments and/or guest articles. Also, the Kadampa Summer Festival is about to start, meaning that thousands of lay and ordained practitioners from around the world will be sitting around chatting in cafes … maybe see you there.

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Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

41 thoughts on “What is modern Buddhism for?”

  1. For most of us, we automatically discriminate ourselves with others- you’re male/ female/ Middle eastern/ Arabic/ Chinese/ Indian/ African…. you don’t speak the same language, nor have the same culture etc.. When we focus on our differences, of course the differences are magnified and we feel further apart from each other.
    There are prejudices going around all over the world for centuries.. Higher caste vs Lower caste..Indians against Pakistanis- Arabic against each other.. Western world vs Middle Eastern etc.. Perhaps it take a BLM movement to get people including these vaster subjects as well and not just limit to black vs white. Since we’re trying to develop our compassion for ALL living beings, starting with humans…

    So how to overcome our prejudices when we see a person who is not like us, not living in the same country, not eating the same food, not speaking the same language and not think: “Well it’s not relevant to me, cos I’m not in it..”

    I received a really good advice once “Relate to other’s similarities instead of their differences.” ; and I believe this is what the balance mind of equanimity is. When we think “others happiness is important, their freedom is important. Equally.’ And stop thinking it’s black/white/ brown/ yellow/ red/ fragility/ superiority etc… & all the labels that separate us but start focusing of all the ways that UNITE us.

    Ultimately, we can try to make Samsara abit more comfortable for everyone.. but its only when we get out of it completely that all our problems can be solved.

  2. In the article, the question was raised: “How can I as a practitioner of Modern Buddhism overcome racial prejudice”.

    A reflection….many people think this is a political issue. Actually, it is not. If it was political, a political solution would have been found years ago. It is simply not a political issue, plain and simple.

    Growing up, I was relentlessly teased by my friends for not being white. 10 year old kids are not political! The pain I felt was also not political. And the fact that I have a dark skin is also not political. And I ask myself the question “Where did those 10 year old kids learn about engaging in racist behavior”? They picked it up unconsciously, from their parents, and society — both of which regard themselves as non-racist. I ponder another question — if both of these (parents and society) consider themselves to be non-racist, yet still transmit racist behavior UNCONSCIOUSLY …. are we really aware of our unconscious racial bias?

    The answer is NO. We probably all have unconscious racist attitudes. Both black and white people. We all need to unite, and have the courage to look into the darker areas of our mind …. particularly those layers of mind we are normally not aware of. And then replace it with Buddha’s views. (Buddha is also a person of color, btw).

    Please, please, let’s unite behind this endeavor, instead of quarreling about whether it is political or not.

  3. ‘I believe this modern Buddhism is still evolving to catch up with Geshe Kelsang’s vision!’ I completely agree with profound comment. The longer you are on this path the more you realise it’s vastness. I think this must be like travelling into space and only then being able to grasp its infinite quality. From earth we can only see a small portion and use our imagination to comprehend. I believe the teachings of Buddha that we receive through Geshe La have unlimited potential to change not just this present world but future worlds, The web of kindness, we are all connected but we don’t yet know it, that is our tragedy.

  4. I Facebooked the FBI warning of a new threat of “black identity extremism”, which I found a Kafkaesque response to the shooting of unarmed black people by police officers, the rise of white supremacists, and the fact that most mass murders in public places are by extreme white males with an arsenal of weapons at their disposal (as are most foiled domestic terrorism plots). Here were some replies from Buddhist friends, and please feel free to continue adding to this discussion.

    KP: In a system based on white supremacy, anything that threatens white supremacy is labeled “extremist.” The FBI jailed and killed an entire generation of black leadership and organizers with the goal that their children, growing up without parents, would never be able to carry on the black empowerment movement of the 60s. It used to be considered radical and extreme to simply say “black is beautiful.” Today, merely affirming the right of black people to live upsets the majority of white America. Black Lives Matter.
    LK: I hope people are waking up to this … I didn’t know the extent of it until pretty recently (I was European, but even so.) I am late to this party, but I now add my wish that every relatively non-deluded white person in this nation is prepared to say this systemic racism has no place in any decent society, and what can I do to stop it.
    KP: Part of the problem is that most white people are unaware of facts and so when black people try to educate them, it’s sounds far fetched and surreal and so far outside white experience that it gets dismissed. I deeply appreciate that you have been talking about these things. I was blocked by an Australian Kadampa and rebuked by a nun for posting a video (on my own page) in 2015 of young black men and women explaining how scared they felt and how strange it is that people get upset when they say “black lives matter.” It showed me that I better keep posting if I didn’t want to leave my friends wallowing in callous, dismissive ignorance instead of helping them develop compassion. There is still a stark difference between the likes and interest shown to my selfies versus articles about the suffering experienced by black Americans. Since compassion IS THE path, I will keep posting.
    TG: Facts don’t change people minds. Mostly experience does and people developing empathy, and understanding often comes from a shared experience. I don’t think we can force people to understand. The best we can do is to set an example. All around samsara sucks. Racism is just one of the many sufferings in our world. With that said, thank you both for being compassionate and open hearted and for speaking up.
    NK: I’ve been rebuked by and ‘threatened’ to be unfriended by white Kadampas for posting about these things on my own page as well. The level of ignorance and apathy is staggering even in the most ‘enlightened’ of communities. Please don’t stop spreading awareness and trying to wake those still asleep but don’t even realize it.
    LK: TG, no, we can’t force them, i take your point. And i totally take your point about suffering — this is just the tip of the iceburg of samsaric suffering. However, speaking as a white ignoramus, I find that basic facts have helped 🙂 I am glad to be more aware of what is going on — it is not making me mad, it is making me want to do something good to stop it. Also, i really hope we can think of ways to increase the diversity at our Centers because Buddhism really is about equality and could help so much if people were prepared to give it a try.
    TG: LK, I love you! You are wise and have a beautiful heart that’s why facts helped you to understand. So we continue with facts because they will speak to some. On diversity at the centers, almost twenty years ago I posed the same question to Gen Sangye and his response was that things will change. I believe that, too.🙂
    LK: TG, Yes, it will, I agree. I’d like to figure out how we can speed it up though.
    JS: TG, I feel like we still have a long way to go with Kadampa Buddhism being truly diverse. For one thing where are the Centres being put. I know in Sheffield and the many centres I have been to they are usually situated in white middle class areas. Then that is who they attract. The centres are then filled with white people. On numerous occasions I have been the only person of color present in class. How many Kadampa teachers are black? how many ordained are black? As James Baldwin says, the changes are not moving fast enough…It’s very rare I can have an honest talk to a white person about racism, from their side there has always been too much guilt, denial about their own part in it…until white people look inwards at there own racism and admit to themselves what is really going on inwardly then there can never be a true conversation. It’s the same with reaching enlightenment, if we don’t recognise our delusions then how are we to abandon them?
    MH: TG, I think that facts can help to change people’s minds. Establishing if something is a fact is a different matter. Which is why the media is so powerful. Don’t you think? But I agree, experience is far more powerful.
    MH: JS, I agree. It is very hard to accept one’s own prejudices. And that has to be the first step.
    TG: JS, true, but also many blacks at least in the South have a strong tie to Christianity. Buddhism is an inner belief. I find amongst my black community sometimes I have to keep quiet because my Buddhist beliefs are the outlier. Racism is just one of the many, many sufferings of samsara. At least the good thing is we are talking about it. MH, yes, when a person is open, facts can change their mind. But, sometimes when people are holding onto beliefs, even when presented with logic and facts they can’t see the truth. The issue is so many people are grasping onto their views. Self-grasping then becomes the issue–racism is just a manifestation.
    JS: I am talking about access to Buddha’s teachings. I wouldn’t have known if I was a Buddhist or not if I hadn’t had access to the teachings. In Sheffield where I live, middle class white people have greatest access, in the poorer part of Sheffield black or white there are no teachings available so how would they know if it’s an inner belief if they have no opportunity to find out.
    TG: Well, sometimes I feel like Dharma found me instead of me finding it. Karma will ripen when it’s time. Twice I moved very near the center (once near the Center around the time Geshe-la was here. The center moved from that location and I moved near it again) before actually going…eventually went because of a magazine advertisement seen at a bookstore. Y’all come to KMC Texas. We have a very diverse community! And teachers who are of color!
    PR: Keep creating causes …we can do it. Coming from Birmingham UK, the centre was in Erdington and not a wealthy area. We had the opposite where people were not really prepared to come into the area to access the teachings. It is now in the city centre. My mum (not a Buddhist) said the centre is for everyone- everyone welcome. Geshe-la has set up a brilliant set of programmes. It is up us to carry his wishes and help spread it. When doing publicity go into the areas where you wouldn’t normally go – break down the barriers.
    LK: Yes. Geshe-la’s wish to get us into city centers is to enable us to make the teachings accessible to absolutely everyone. Where I live, we have more diversity now we are in a city center location as opposed to up the hill near the park, for example.
    SG: It IS mind-bogglingly Kafkaesque … still, all the craziness and turbulence have at least shaken up American complacency a bit (and maybe it took this level of insanity to do it). As racism has penetrated to the highest levels of government, it has become more difficult for most people to ignore the extent of it here. And isn’t complacency/lack of honesty our enemy, as Buddhists and as citizens? (In the meantime, of course, more people are getting hurt.)
    LK: Yes, I agree. We can learn a lot from the insanity unfurling — not least our part, or at least our (my) complacency, in allowing it to happen due to being blissfully, privilegedly unaware.
    SG: Yes, we have a role to play, a responsibility. And you are right, we need to look at our own complacency first of all…
    LK: and it starts with Facebook posts 😀 And thinking of ways to lay out the welcome mat at our Centers …
    JS: SG, complacency and racism. We have to be really honest about what’s in our own mind. I say racism because that is where the complacency comes from. It’s easier to say complacency than racism. I know this sounds harsh but we HAVE to look at it, like we have to look at our own delusions and identify them correctly.
    LK: JS, I think we have to distinguish in the US between prejudice and systemic racism, says a good friend of mine. They’re not always the same.
    SG: It’s true, complacency is an easier word. And it’s easy right now to rail against all the terrible racists with their banners and feel righteous…There’s such resistance to admitting to racism, the kind of automatic defensiveness which always means there’s a cover-up.
    JS: LK, prejudice and racism are different and a person would still have to look in their own mind and still be really honest. Where does systematic racism come from if it isn’t created out of one’s own mind of racism.
    SG: JS, to look, one needs to step out of privilege. To admit that the privilege itself comes from racism, is racist. We are so attached to this privilege and ease we have carried with us for so long. We easily give up things we don’t care about, but our stolen privilege is dear to us in ways we hardly understand. There’s no choice though but to try to understand and to realize that we will probably get it wrong.
    JS: Better to try and get it wrong than to hang onto stolen privilege and status quo …. exchanging self with others is one of the best methods for understanding…
    LK: Not sure if this is what you are saying, but i suppose i am wary of assuming all white people are prejudiced — that seems too blanket and doesn’t hold up with my experience. But where i find i have fallen short is in being complicit to a racist system due to complacency with a privileged status quo. It is not a color thing — i can imagine being complicit in other systems of economic etc disparity. JS, I will read those articles you sent me and think more on it. Just to say i am really happy that we are all talking about this, especially as i agree wholeheartedly that the teachings on exchanging self with others are capable of healing this, whatever exactly this is – whether prejudice, racism, or both 🙂
    TM:I watched a very powerful and excellent documentary by Ava DuVernay called 13th that I hope everyone finds the opportunity to see. It’s about mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S., and its long history. As a white person who thought she was pretty enlightened to the suffering of people of color in U.S. society, I didn’t know the half of it, in terms of how systemic the oppression has been *at the highest levels* in this country for decades. Our current leadership’s opinions aren’t necessarily new, they’re just more blatant, and I think that’s what has activated so many people to see and learn about the injustice that has taken place for a long, long time.
    KP: Slavery by Another Name is also a very well done and engaging documentary available for free on PBS.
    SL: 13th lays it out very clearly. We have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners and yet we say this is the land of the free. It very much isn’t. Either we are simply more criminally inclined in this country (which when one looks at the sheer volume of guns is quite possible) or we have a system, as you say, of systemic racism. In fact, one could easily make the case of slavery. I’ve recently heard that there are now more slaves than ever before in human history. America is certainly doing it’s part. And honestly prior to knowing these facts/truths I was complacent/complicit. Thank you so much for your courage as a Dharma teacher in bringing this up. May your courage and example be followed so people know that Dharma is a safe haven for all! 🙂
    LK: Thank you, SL. I bring it up simply as someone who is only just now learning the sobering extent of this systemic racism. I guess I want everyone to watch 13th and even more, you are right, it would be so great if we can find ways of letting everyone know that Dharma is a safe haven.

  5. Perhaps we need to check our attachment to outcomes re: modern society. It is the very nature of impermanence and Buddha tells us this particular collective appearance of samsara won’t last very long.

    As hard as it may be, it is perhaps more beneficial to invest our energy solving the problems of our future lives, equally for the benefit of ourselves and all sentient beings.

    Samsara can’t be fixed. We can create the causes for better worldly conditions, but every moment we are expending more of our precious human life arranging present conditions is a moment we are neglecting the importance of ALL of our future selves.

  6. Thank you for this article! <3

    Exchanging self with others is a magical practice. Changing the object of my cherishing from my own limited self to another's self. This practice of empathy will completely transform my experience and my world.
    Our precious Spiritual Guide has shared with us everything Buddha taught to recognize, reduce, and abandon all our delusions. It would be so sad if we do not use the precious mirror of Holy Dharma in modern times to see racism in its gross aspect (deluded pride) and subtle aspect (ignorance, self-cherishing) in our own minds.
    Those of us who have enjoyed privileges in our life solely because of being born white are a bit like the fish who says, "Water? What is water? I'm afraid I have no idea what you are talking about." Ignorance. Self-cherishing. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

    Peace. <3

  7. I am so grateful to you that you posted this writing on the condition of racism in our country. The documentary “13th” shook my world! It was painful to watch and to comprehend how our government has purposely failed the Black communities since the Civil War! As a Dharma practitioner for eleven years, I can understand how to cultivate compassion for both the victims and the perpetrators. But I question how much compassionate love does it take to change the karma of this racist environment in our country? Maybe that means my faith isn’t strong enough or I’m grasping for changes and results that may take a long time! I’m still thinking about this, and about what I can do to bring about change! Meditation, prayer, dedication, conversation!!!

  8. I love this article, it feels important and needed. I was talking with a Buddhist friend recently about how there is a vast, discernible difference between putting politics into Dharma and putting Dharma into politics. We have already witnessed the degeneration of some Buddhist traditions when politics is mixed with dharma. But what about putting Dharma into politics? What does this mean?

    I think it is an ongoing examination; conventionally we are ensnared within an economic system that seems to view the eight worldly concerns as deities, with racism, class injustice and environmental exploitation as natural by-products.
    While I was studying politics at Uni, I was fascinated to find out that most political Ideologies have at their heart, quite restricting beliefs with regards to human beings capacity for enrichment.
    Within a Conservative and Neo-liberal Ideological framework, for instance, there is a belief that ‘humans are naturally psychologically limited people who derive much of the comfort, safety and belonging they crave from knowing one’s place in society’! This belief denies a person’s ability to develop equanimity.
    What is the best way for me to challenge this? First, it is internal, through the practice of Dharma, then hopefully, externally I can learn a language that people from all walks of life can hear.
    When talking to oppressors (which I sometimes do), I first need to find commonalities otherwise I cannot be heard, thereby making any meaningful progress very difficult. There may also be occasions when talking is not an option and a more wrathful approach may be the answer (I’d like to hear thoughts on this.)
    When talking to people fighting oppression (which I often do), I feel it useful to have a basic political vocabulary to show that I am not some naive spiritual navel gazer, after this, its possible to have more meaningful conversations. For example, I can talk about the usefulness of separating a person from a person’s actions. This can be such a revelation for people experiencing the excruciating pain of anger towards people they view as architects of injustice.
    It’s only a small step, but I have a lot of faith in small beginnings.
    Thank you for your posts, they are so helpful.

    1. I love this comment, including this line:

      “What is the best way for me to challenge this? First, it is internal, through the practice of Dharma, then hopefully, externally I can learn a language that people from all walks of life can hear.”

      And I am in awe of this manifesto you have written: http://freeclarity.org/manifesto-2/

      So many important ideas.

  9. I’ve been a student of Geshe Kelsang and Kadam Morten for the past 18 years and I’m an African American female. When I first came in contact with these teachings they seemed very foreign to me but I hung in there. I discovered how much anger and hurt was in my heart being raised in a country that had enslaved my people and taken away our history, our names and spiritual beliefs. These teachings made me realize that I needed to heal myself and open my heart. I’ve worked on reducing my anger by opening my heart with compassion. I realized who could teach about compassion better then someone who had not had compassion given to them. I’m so grateful that Geshe Kelsang has given me the opportunity to teach Dharma and share my experiences and how I have grown on this wonderful path. These teachings have taught me that we all want to be happy, and avoid suffering, we all have the same heart wish.

    1. dear Naimah, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I’m delighted you are able to bring your experience of life and Buddhism to a hopefully wider and wider audience.

  10. Thanks for the article. I have found that many within our tradition are reluctant to bring up anything that could be interpreted as “political”, and so we rarely can have these kinds of conversations in Sangha. That, and the fact that many Sangha tend to be fairly homogenous in terms of race and socio-economic background. But racism, political hate, social injustice are things a Bodhisattva cannot ignore, as they are part of the larger-scale manifestations of samsara.

    1. Yes, thank you, well observed. To me it makes sense that people don’t want to rely on the same old political or even simply external solutions to the problems of samsara — but I think this need not preclude focusing on what is appearing to us with a view to transforming it. We need the big picture, including that useful distinction between outer and inner problems. But at the same time, we need to apply this understanding and our compassion to the world that is currently around us, even if — or especially because — it is mistaken appearance.

      As for the homogenous Sangha, I think that’s changing. (I’d like it to change a bit quicker, personally :-))

  11. What a timely article! I recently got fed up with the Secessionists demonstrating in my city with the Confederate Battle flag and sat with them this weekend with my signs so that people going by would know not everyone in our city agreed with their views (I live in a big tourist city). It was very hard not to feel anger as I sat there but I set a peaceful intention and tried to keep mantras going as I sat. However, my issue is more with the city, who allows them to demonstrate on city property without a permit or paying a fee. As I continue to deal with the city, I find myself having a very unsettled mind. Thank you for this article. I will keep it handy as a reminder to work from compassion.

    1. I’m glad it is a helpful reminder. So many ways in which to generate compassion for people influenced by ignorance, but sometimes easier to do from the comfort of our cushion — being able to be out in the thick of it and stay calm and happy, now that is the practice 🙂

  12. Thank you Claire for sharing 🙂 Yes, things are completely different now within Buddhism than they were even 20 years ago, for all of us. There is also a huge increase in collective experience and spiritual maturity, naturally, and that looks set to grow and grow, of course.

    I am very heartened by how much our tradition has evolved and modernized — it gives me great hope that we are all swiftly going to keep improving in our skill at practicing and sharing. I know this is possible because I have seen how well this tradition has already adapted with compassion and skill to the very different needs of a modern world. I see it everywhere, including in the many teachers I have been hanging out with just recently, lay and ordained, with or without kids.

    Just noticing too how much we all love having kids around these days … you are right, it wasn’t always like that 😀

  13. As a white man in England the film terrified me. I have to be honest and say it does seem hopeless to me. The whole system seems so stacked against success. I guess in effect I am saying my faith in dharma is not strong enough to imagine a solution.
    I found the dignity and courage of some of the people depicted was so inspiring and yet they made little difference or were killed.

    1. I appreciate your honesty, Mike, and it is because it can be hard to imagine an end to suffering that I am writing all this. We do need more faith.

      The current system IS stacked against success because it is a system created by deluded minds. And that is why, rather than feeling stuck in the problem, we need to keep remembering and envisioning the solution — an end to delusions through wisdom and compassion. This is possible, why not? Shut your eyes and imagine it, Mike 😉 That is where it all starts for you and those around you.

      I also think that dignity and courage are never wasted. We will not see all the results of our actions straightaway but, as Buddha taught in karma, no actions are wasted.

  14. Thank you so much Madam Luna. Your article is keeping us from ‘disappearing’ into the safe enclaves of our caste system to ask the most important question: ‘what does my faith require of me in the face of this injustice?’ Human suffering can only end when we banish our personal ignorance by planting the seed of enlightenment. But as that seed in our souls grows fruit and turns into bounty, it spills over into our actions. I would submit that if we are not moved to action for injustices because of our bounty, we must ask if that seed of love has ever really taken root.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. There are many ways of being moved to action for injustices, spiritually and practically — and to me the key is being moved in the first place. Rather than just passively observing this world go downhill, for example, thinking that everyone is in too much of a mess to be helped. Complacency, inaction, and privilege are not the way of a Bodhisattva. And, to be honest, I am talking to myself here.

      1. Dearest Luna, your very precious comments and teachings desperately need to be more ‘in the public domain ‘…..even MORE so now.( With the C virus AND all the unhappy souls demonstrating out of deep,deep desperation and thoughts of unfairness. ) WE know that EVERYTHING is karmic so if ‘they’ could possibly take that understanding on at a deep level, the ideas of injustice causing resentment could NOT come to the fore. A sense of acceptence would pervade and they would all gradually want to help others understand, which would change their karma forever….no? Please might it be possible for you to havea regular column in a ‘regular’ publication?
        With much love, thanks and constant admiration…Barbara G xx

  15. This is what comes to my mind:

    What is the actual definition of world peace? Does it mean that every person on the planet is not physically or verbally fighting with one another? Does it mean that everyone feels calm and happy and peaceful inside? Does everyone need to be a Foe Destroyer, liberated from samsara? Or does everyone need to be a fully enlightened Buddha?

    And if at one moment in time everyone on the planet is completely peaceful, what happens when all of the other new babies are born? Is there still world peace then?

    When we think of world peace, are we only talking about human beings? If animals and insects are still killing one another and experiencing suffering, then can we truly say the world is at peace?

    Does world peace only apply to worlds we can see? What about beings in other realms that we cannot see? And even if every being on planet Earth is at peace, is that really enough? What about beings on other planets, throughout our galaxy and the universe?

    A lot of questions to be sure, and to me they all revolve around the words ‘universal compassion.’ The word universal implies to me something so incredibly vast and profound-far deeper than perhaps what many people think of when they hear the words ‘world peace.’ It also shows me that complete enlightenment is something so profound, so inconceivable, so beyond our small limited self. The words ‘happiness,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘bliss’ seem to not even come close to what we will experience when we become enlightened and liberate all living beings everywhere.

    In the meantime, we can of course work towards making the world a better place and benefiting others according to their capacity and to our own level of development, by practicing the Bodhisattva’s way of life.

    Thank you for this article, it really sparked something deep inside me. And thank you for spreading the Dharma to many people through the online medium. 🙏🏻❤️

    1. I love this, and you are spot on. It is huge, what we are trying to do. And I suppose that is why we need the confidence to make sure we are getting on with it by not ignoring the world that is appearing right in front of us, but engaging with it on some level to transform it, even though, like all worlds, it is mistaken appearance. I was thinking about all these temples we are building for world peace, for example. Geshe Kelsang himself has always been clear that we need to get out there.

    2. When humans are at peace animals will be at peace and stop attacking us and each other. They eat each other because we eat them and they attack because we do. When that cause is eradicated, babies will be born into peace and a new appearance and experience will arise for mothers having babies and the baby’s experience coming into the world. Peace begets peace. Animals are slaves to the humans who have the ability to control their minds.

  16. I enjoyed your article and will look up the movies. Bringing Buddhism into the modern western world is still in its infancy but fortunately it has a foothold and a following. Wisdom to me means many things not the least of which is striving to present self in a compassionate way by my intentions, thoughts and actions every day

  17. My friend was telling me, in a bit of a stressed out way, how her mother had just been on the phone upset that someone had been rude to her. Her Mother was at the other end of the country and it struck me how our state of mind effects each person we interact with, across a country and even the world, especially now that we are so joined up electronically.  I remember Kadam Brigit pointing this out,  saying how in a day we may meet 5 people and then they each meet 5 people and so on…all the more reason to have blogs like this one to inspire us to emit love through our interactions and therefore peace each day we are in this world!  Thank you Luna 🙂

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, we are so connected. Everything we do affects others in ways we cannot even imagine a lot of the time, especially in this “joined up” age.

  18. As a black woman who practices Buddhism, I have had nothing but gratitude that you dedicated time and effort to write about racism and privilege in America. Matter of fact, it helped for me to feel a bit more connected and included within this tradition. I felt that you inspire the courage to address white privilege ( which seems to be very difficult to admit for so many people) and it’s connection to racism, discrimination and hate both overt and covert. Again, thank you so much for your heart of courage. Peace to you

  19. Thank you Luna Kadampa. What a fierce and wise article. I will take up the challenge: to examine my own modesty and reluctance to offend that keeps me from sharing the medicine of dharma wisdom with those who need it. Thanks for tackling this issue of racism and privilege head on.

  20. Brilliant! Thank you! Refreshingly honest – it particularly resonated – the ‘hate to say it’ bit. I have a feeling we may one day get as skilful as the Christians in reaching out further into ALL pockets of society to benefit others. This can’t happen soon enough as far as I’m concerned. At the same time, it’s essential we have the personal time to give our own practice strength in order to benefit others.

    1. Yes, thank you. In Buddhism, any outward action has to be nourished by our own inner authentic experience. That is why the meditation centers are so precious and need to be cherished and supported forever. At the same time as we each individually grow in spiritual strength, we can reach out further and further. And reaching out in itself, openly practicing and sharing the ideas in our hearts wherever we go and whatever we do, in and for society, will give our practice strength. Get the balance right, and I think it might be a win-win 🙂 Plus everyone is different of course, and needs to find their own ways of engaging their bodhichitta.

  21. Thank you Luna Kadampa. What a fierce and wise article. I will take up the challenge: to examine my own modesty and reluctance to offend that keeps me from sharing the medicine of dharma wisdom with those who need it. Thanks for tackling this issue of racism and privilege head on.

  22. I appreciate what you are saying. I think that the Buddha Traditions need to do much more outreach without fear. I and a friend of mind are starting a Sangha in a remote rural part of Colorado. Naturally we do this so that our friends and neighbors can come together in friendship and prayer. We Buddhist need to come out in the open. This is always a powerful experience. I spent many years attending ” Prayers for World Peace”, and in the city’, however I have since moved and are without a Sangha I feel a need to start one myself and with the help of others..

    I was at a Christian Church one day and when they called for joys and concerns, I said that I would like to include a prayers for World Peace. The pastor agreed, but the congregation dismissed this as not possible. One of great resistance to peace is fear that it is not possible. The idea that to cherish others is impossible , and that we can find peace is totally abhorrent to many people.

    Yet I see: ” With the intention to attain, The ultimate, supreme goal, That surpasses even the wish granting jewel, May I constantly cherish all living beings. ” This is often the biggest challenge for people in our country(USA) as it means giving up our tribal roots.

    1. Yes, thank you for this comment, that is true, the fear that it is not possible holds us back from attempting it, and then for sure nothing happens. That is largely why I am focusing on this at the moment.

      Do we each believe that world peace is possible?!

      Cherishing others, and equally, is good for our own individual well being as well as collectively. Buddha’s teachings on that are so helpful, allowing people to let go of cherishing those whom they perceive as “other” to them, showing that everyone is equally important for our happiness and enlightenment, and everyone is equally kind. And those teachings are not that complicated, either, and you don’t have to be a Buddhist to see the sense and freedom in them.

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