Social Justice

Buddhism teaches that we are noble by our actions, not by birth or circumstance
  • Tricycle Community 23 comments

    Buddhist Nationalism in Burma Paid Member

    For those outside Burma, the broadcast images of the Theravada monks of the “Saffron Revolution” of 2007 are still fresh. Backed by the devout Buddhist population, these monks were seen chanting metta and the Lovingkindness Sutta on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay, and Pakhoke-ku, calling for an improvement in public well-being in the face of the growing economic hardships afflicting Burma’s Buddhists. The barefooted monks’ brave protests against the rule of the country’s junta represented a fine example of engaged Buddhism, a version of Buddhist activism that resonates with the age-old Orientalist, decontextualized view of what Buddhists are like: lovable, smiley, hospitable people who lead their lives mindfully and have much to offer the non-Buddhist world in the ways of fostering peace. More »
  • Tricycle Community 7 comments

    A Change of Heart Paid Member

    For many years we’ve heard the same slogan called out again and again, a cry for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine: “Peace in the Middle East!” In October, this call will be heard once again, but this time it will not be shouted out or scrawled on posters. It will be cried out another way: by the silent presence of peace walkers. More »
  • Tricycle Community 32 comments

    Buying Wisdom Paid Member

    Outside a conference on mindfulness for the Silicon Valley crowd stood a corkboard and a pad of yellow Post-it Notes. There, in keeping with the conference’s “Wisdom 2.0” name and theme, attendees were invited to write down their thoughts on creating a “global wisdom culture.” There were 50 or 60 suggestions on the board, mostly for things like online platforms to encourage “lateral communication.” But something was missing, I thought. I grabbed a pen, tore off a Post-it, and added a word that was conspicuously absent from the board: Wisdom. More »
  • Tricycle Community 6 comments

    Conserving the Inner Ecology Paid Member

    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (1906-1993), one of the modern Thai sangha's most provocative interpreters of Buddhist thought, formed a wilderness tradition all his own. He was ordained as a monk in 1928, but two years later, fed up with the prevailing monastic system, he founded Wat Suan Mokkhabalarama—the Garden of Empowering Liberation Monastery—in the forest near Chaiya in southern Thailand. For Buddhadasa, the city represented the imposition of artifice on the natural. To conform with nature meant to let go of our defilements—wild nature, he taught, must be conserved in order for beings to attain nirvana. And society, by extension, must be reformed before human beings will have the wisdom to conserve and unite with nature. This approach has made Buddhadasa the inspiration for social and environmental protest worldwide, and the engaged Buddhists of today such as Thailand's Sulak Sivaraksa have modeled their activism on his teachings. While Buddhadasa is known as a "forest monk," and insisted that his monks live in the forest, his view departed from that of the monks in Ajaan Mun's tradition, and his teachings were decidedly less orthodox. The Kammatthana monks view the wilderness as an indispensably good teacher, but essentially dangerous—part of samsara and something to be transcended—whereas Buddhadasa saw nature as dharmic perfection. He promoted the integration of the scholarly and practice aspects of the Buddhist path, and during his twenties retired to the jungle for six years armed with Buddhist scriptures. Moreover, unlike the Kammatthana monks, Buddhadasa believed practitioners had to hone right understanding before any successful attempt at meditation practice could be undertaken. Ajaan Mun, by contrast, insisted on practice over study. Whereas Kammatthana monks entered the forest in search of personal teachers, Buddhadasa sought no teacher: the transcriptions of his hundreds of dharma talks are his legacy, and while several monasteries in Thailand and around the world align themselves with his teachings, he has no formal lineage. In an excerpt from a dharma talk on conservation, Buddhadasa lays out his notion of nature as dharma, the fundamental goodness of the wilderness, and explains how, through right view and conforming ourselves to nature, we can end suffering. More »
  • Tricycle Community 14 comments

    Aren’t We Right to be Angry? Paid Member

    In May 2011, at the Newark Peace Education Summit in New Jersey, the Dalai Lama and Jody Williams—both Nobel Peace Prize winners—debated the role of anger in social action work. The Dalai Lama held that people must have inner peace in order to promote peace in the world. “Too much emotion, attachment, anger, or fear, that kind of mental state, you can’t investigate objectively,” he said. Williams respectfully disagreed. “It’s anger at injustice which fires many of us,” she argued. As Buddhists, we may tend to agree with the Dalai Lama. But after listening to Williams, a powerful activist for social change, a compelling question emerged: Is anger ever a good thing? More »
  • Tricycle Community 18 comments

    Upsurge Paid Member