Buddhism in society

Can modern Buddhism radically transform our society in the short-term as well as in the long-term? Along with liberation and enlightenment, can it bring about world peace here and now? What does it mean to create a pure world, a Buddha land? Here are some articles exploring this important subject.

If you believe that Buddhism is about engagement, not escapism, and if you are trying to use its ideas to actively change the society and/or world we are in, please consider contributing an article on how you are doing this.

A Buddhist way to world peace

Extract: Our modern age is a time of momentous and lightning-fast change. It seems as though a lot of things are going downhill fast, but this rapid change can also open doorways in people’s minds as they struggle to figure out another, better way to be, given that the old certainties are no longer working… Given that, I believe that Buddhism is an idea whose time has come.

What is modern Buddhism for?

Extract: Modern Buddhism is surely not about escapism; it cannot be about navel-gazing…. 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.

A vision of hope in troubled times

Extract: It starts with understanding the goal of Buddhism, which is the realization of world peace. Just as importantly, it offers methods to accomplish this vision. To explore how Buddhism offers very real and practical solutions for our troubled world, the key is to be clear about what is the biggest problem we have in the world today.

Right here, right now

Extract: In general, in the West, there’s a tendency to market an extraordinarily transcendent process, meditation, only as a solution for stress. Meditating to bring out our innate compassion and deep insight can sometimes get lost in translation. But traditional Buddhist meditation has these two main objectives — to develop universal compassion and gain insight into the true nature of reality — and by practicing these we can use this life to attain incredible joy and freedom for both ourselves and others.

Choose love

Extract: People need to know how to become happy through love. Not much else seems to be making us happy these days. Not politics as usual, anyway. The silver lining of this, though, may be that more people are starting to explore other more spiritual ways to solve problems. Loving-kindness is arguably the most important example we can show in our troubled world.

Time to rebel

It’s not a fight between good versus evil where we are on the sidelines, on tenterhooks, “Who’s going to win the ultimate battle, the dark side, the light side?!” It’s not like that — especially if we are talking about living beings versus living beings because we are all mixed bags of delusions and virtues changing all the time, and from one life to the next, so who could ever possibly win a battle like that?!

The real battle lines are wisdom versus ignorance, and finally, in that war, ignorance doesn’t stand a chance. This is because it is ignorant! It is stupid. It is also stubborn and fairly persuasive while we remain under its influence, but as soon as we start to view it from the perspective of wisdom it doesn’t stand a chance.

What’s going on?

Extract: The arc of forward progression — of tolerance, human rights, international security, climate protection, and global connectivity for example — is not an inevitability. While we let the obstructionist delusions stay in our hearts, it is a pipe dream.

What do we do now?

Extract: Can we really ignore the suffering and inhumanity, and should we remain silent? What would a Bodhisattva do? What would car-hornBuddha do?

Going wide means going deep

Extract: With compassion to liberate all living beings, we understand that everybody hurts sometimes, and we want to take the suffering away from all of them, until we feel responsible for everyone — possessing the superior intention of a Bodhisattva. But we need to learn to do this without being overwhelmed or anxious.

Worry and existential tiredness, however, do not come from the concern we have for others but from a tightness born of ignorance about our true nature, and attachment to externals, to appearances. So to go wide, I think, without spreading ourselves thin, we have to go deep.

Buddhism Lite

Extract: Mindfulness is a way of living, not a substitute for taking action. If we truly become mindful of our existence, then our recurrent anxieties become not just a wave we watch pass through our minds, not something to be mastered in order to be a better servant, but a call to take action in order to be more fully alive.

America: Reconstruction after the Civil War

Extract: Collectively, I would submit, a lack of self-respect and self-liking has led to a painful lack of respect and liking for others on a societal level. This incredible new documentary on PBS recently examines the century following America’s Civil War, and has affected me quite deeply.

Articles on other websites 

A response to Charlottesville

Extract: My conclusion is that we need these living examples of peace to be walking through our world. We need them sitting at our dining tables, walking through our supermarkets, and teaching our communities by their sheer living example. Surely this is what Martin Luther King Jr. himself was: a living example of peace whose boundless love had the power to change the world. We need to seek these people out, whatever religion or non-religion we follow, we need to make sure we find a few living examples of peace in our life, so we can start to spend more time in their presence. And my second conclusion is that we need to become these examples ourselves. To activate a kind of change that is the nature of peace itself.

Manifesto ~ Freeclarity

Extract: Is there really an argument that art, creativity and inner transformation can be intrinsic elements of meaningful lasting societal change?