Social Justice

Buddhism teaches that we are noble by our actions, not by birth or circumstance
  • In the News: Summer 1995 Paid Member

    On March 3 a Vietnamese Buddhist monk was stabbed to death by a homeless man whom he had taken into his temple in Philadelphia. Thich Hanh Man, 43, had served only three months as resident monk at Philadelphia’s first Vietnamese Buddhist temple when the attack occurred. Though other members of the temple had warned him about Lan-Ngoc Nguyen, a Vietnamese homeless man whose past, they said, included arrests and a history of mental illness, Man felt that it was his duty as a monk to offer help. Police said they saw evidence of a struggle in the temple kitchen. Members of the temple who knew Man, however, said that the turned-over tables and chairs were evidence not of a fight, but of a chase. Man, they said, who outweighed his attacker by twenty pounds, would have been trying to escape when he was stabbed nine times. More »
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    Meditation 101: Less is More Paid Member

    My instructions to first-time meditators are becoming more and more minimalist. These days, it’s something like “Sit quietly and notice what’s going on.” It used to take longer—when I was the meditation instructor at a Soto Zen sangha in Mountain View, California, I would spend thirty to forty minutes telling newbies how to sit, how to breathe, how to bow—not to mention how to enter and leave the zendo, how to ask a question, and (talk about setting them up!) what to expect. More »
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    Journey Through Holy Lands Paid Member

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    Who's Zoomin' Who? The Commodification of Buddhism in the American Marketplace Paid Member

    After the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, he walked the dusty roads to the Deer Park in Sarnath, where he delivered his first sermon, The Sutra of the Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. Here for the first time he described life’s conditions in terms of the Four Noble Truths, declaring desire, craving, “thirst” as the driving force that keeps us stuck in the mire of suffering called samsara. More »
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    The First Noble Truth of Cyberspace Paid Member

    In a course I teach at MIT on democracy and the Internet, we were talking about the social impact of migrations in cyberspace (i.e., the capacity to move freely into networks and services that had previously existed as unconnected, self-contained islands). For example, America Online (AOL) had been a self-contained cyberspace continent whose users were confined within its borders. However, with the immense growth in popularity of the Internet, service providers have hastily constructed bridges…In a course I teach at MIT on democracy and the Internet, we were talking about the social impact of migrations in cyberspace (i.e., the capacity to move freely into networks and services that had previously existed as unconnected, self-contained islands). For example, America Online (AOL) had been a self-contained cyberspace continent whose users were confined within its borders. More »
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    Bombs and Baby Bears: Toys "R" Us Paid Member

    Sifting through the images of Oklahoma City for signs of continuity and renewal, the most poignant to emerge—the saddest and the most disturbing—is that of a city whose grief came to be symbolized by the sudden presence of teddy bears. Men, women, and children alike seemed to clutch these comfort toys to their chests as if, without the softness and the innocence the toys symbolized, their broken hearts might collapse into the graves of…Sifting through the images of Oklahoma City for signs of continuity and renewal, the most poignant to emerge—the saddest and the most disturbing—is that of a city whose grief came to be symbolized by the sudden presence of teddy bears. More »