Buddhist teachings on civic engagement without attachment to outcome
  • Why Are Myanmar Nuns Not Granted the Same Respect as Monks? Paid Member

    A young Buddhist nun rides Yangon's circular train in June 2015. Born of Buddhist parents and raised in a Buddhist environment, I grew up as a typical Myanmar Buddhist girl. Under the care of my grandmother, it was hammered into my brain that we should worship and pay the utmost respect to Buddhist monks in all circumstances. My grandmother instructed me, for example, to never sit on the same level as monks, but place myself at their feet. Yet in all the years of my childhood she never said a word about how to behave in front of Buddhist women who had become nuns. More »
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    After the Future Paid Member

    A commonplace of Buddhist history holds that wherever the dharma goes—from Mongolia to Thailand, from Afghanistan to Vietnam—it adapts to the local scene in a spirit of accommodation. But there is another way to explain the dharma’s ability to take root in very different societies. At crucial turning points, Buddhism has arrived in the nick of time to save its hosts from cultural paralysis. A good example comes from the Tang dynasty, where for centuries Buddhism was confined to urban enclaves. Then a catastrophe, the An Lushan rebellion, forced many ordinary Chinese to rethink their fundamental values. Crisis alone, it’s important to see, wasn’t enough to generate the necessary change; the Chinese had to use new tools supplied from outside the cultural mainstream—that is, by the dharma. More »
  • Tricycle Community 5 comments

    Capitalism vs. the Climate Paid Member

    Everything changes. As Buddhists, we know this. But perhaps too often we’re content to let things be. In her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, the Canadian journalist and social activist Naomi Klein makes a compelling case for all of us—Buddhists and otherwise—to join arms and demand the changes we need to make before we reach the point of no return. For Klein, climate change is a symptom of an even bigger problem: global capitalism. Thus, healing the earth, she says, will also mean healing the wounds of slavery and colonialism to create a more racially and economically just world. More »
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    No Male, No Female Paid Member

    In the Agganna Sutta (Digha Nikaya 3.80–98), the Buddha explains the origins of the existing social order, describing it as a fall from a golden age in which bodiless beings are self-radiant and live on delight. This state, in which there is no duality whether in terms of matter, space, or time, is also nondual in terms of gender: “no male or female are known,” and beings (satta) are “called (or defined as) only beings.” As time passes, a substance appears and a greedy being tastes it (it is not explained why this particular being is greedy). As the being develops a liking for the substance, it develops craving (tanha), a clear reference to the second noble truth of the origin of suffering (dukkha) taught by the Buddha. Other beings follow suit and also develop craving. As they eat the substance, their self-radiance disappears, causing the appearance of the moon and sun and night and day, as well as the calendar and seasonal divisions. More »
  • Tricycle Community 5 comments

    Shining a Light Paid Member

    The Buddha offers more than a dozen convincing arguments against racism in a conversation with the brahmins of his day who saw themselves as superior to others. These arguments focus on the lack of any real biological or psychological distinction between people of different castes, and point to social convention as the more obvious source of prejudice. You can read about this in the Assalayana Sutta (Middle Length Discourse 93), but most people these days hardly need convincing of something so evident. More »
  • The Rise of Political Buddhism in Myanmar Paid Member

    A Buddhist monk adjusts his robe at a monastery affiliated with the Ma Ba Tha (Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion) on the outskirts of Yangon. The Ma Ba Tha organization, mainly active in Yangon and the northern city of Mandalay, promotes hardline Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar. The Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion, known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, is gaining ground in Myanmar. It has also been receiving increased international attention—last month for its proposal to ban Muslim headscarves in public schools.  More »