August 30, 2011

The Need of the Hour: Religion's role in solving the world's critical problems

In the current issue of Tricycle, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi argues that a new vision and scale of values are necessary measures for taking care of the world today. From "The Need of the Hour":


The critical problems that loom over us—economic, political, and ecological—can be dealt with in either of two ways. One is the symptomatic approach favored by policy wonks and conventional liberal politicians, who view each problem as distinct and propose tackling them through more finely tuned policies. The other approach is holistic. It looks at these problems as interwoven and mutually reinforcing, seeing them as objectifications of our subjective propensities mirroring back to us the distorted ways we relate to ourselves, other people, and the natural world. From this angle, any effective solution requires that we make fundamental changes in ourselves—in our views, attitudes, and intentions. These can then ripple out, coalesce, and inspire transformative action.

I suggest that it is the task of religion—understood broadly as comprising forms of spirituality that don’t necessarily constitute an organized faith—to offer us guidance in making those redemptive changes. In trying to implement them we can expect to meet hardened resistance both from mainstream culture and our own entrenched habits. To understand the necessity of change, we must consider not only our short-term personal advantage but also the long-range impact our choices have on others we will never know or see: on people living in remote lands, on generations as yet unborn, and on the other species that share our planet.


This is certainly a call to action, but what exactly should you do? The scale of problems can make it difficult to know where to start. Bhikkhu Bodhi goes on to outline a meditation practice that you can use to find your own, personal "sacred calling." Read the rest of "The Need of the Hour" here.

 

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