Social Justice

Buddhism teaches that we are noble by our actions, not by birth or circumstance
  • 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 »
  • Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist Paid Member

    OAKLAND, Calif. (RNS) When Zenju Earthlyn Manuel goes to teach somewhere for the first time, she often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced. She doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white. And getting them to acknowledge that her body—her “manifestation,” as she calls it—is different and a part of her experience is crucial to her teaching. If our bodies are sources of suffering, then we ignore them at our peril. “When I have held and embraced who I am, how I am embodied, it has become a source of enlightenment, of freedom,” she said from a sunny corner window seat in her living room. Draped in a black monk’s jacket, she is a stark contrast to the white walls and white upholstery of the rest of the room. 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 »
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    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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    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 »
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    Q&A with Kritee Paid Member

    Age: 36Profession: Environmental scientist and advocateLocation: Boulder, Colorado  More »