Social Justice

Buddhism teaches that we are noble by our actions, not by birth or circumstance
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    Charities Fall 2010 Paid Member

    Despite some of the best animal protection laws in the world and a renowned heritage of reverence for life, modern India is a country where millions of animals suffer severe neglect or abuse. Help Animals India (HAI) is an all-volunteer USA nonprofit charity dedicated to supporting efficient and effective animal protection organizations in India. HAI’s principal beneficiary is the Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA) in Visakhapatnam, state of Andhra Pradesh, India. An extraordinary effort by a dedicated team, VSPCA cares for thousands of animals including birds, monkeys, ducks, dogs, cats, horses, as well as 620 cows, bulls, and buffalo.TO HELP: www.helpanimalsindia.org More »
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    The Freedom to Breathe Paid Member

    I am skinny-dipping. Stripping off my clothes, running into the water, diving down naked to disappear for a few breaths from the shouts and sounds of the world. Shedding clothes, embarrassments, care. The surface breaks as I return for air. For a few moments, I am free, opened, beyond place, beyond space.And then I am here. I breathe deeply, fully clothed in a compulsory uniform inside walls that do not vanish before half-closed eyes, seated during an officially-sanctioned time for Buddhist group meditation. My breath joins those of the women around me, travels across the walls and over the barbed wire. Freedom of breath cannot be measured, contained, or punished—as I breathe, my aliveness asserts itself, even laughs at its constraints. Yes, in this place it is an elusive joy, but I feel it now, as surely as I feel the knots of anxiety loosen in my shoulders. More »
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    The Prison Monk Paid Member

    He who puts an end to former crimes By taking up the way of peace, Illuminates the world Like the moon freed from a veil of clouds—The Buddha, Angulimala SuttaIn 1985 Fleet Maull, a Buddhist practitioner and senior student of Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), was indicted for cocaine trafficking and sentenced to a prison term of twenty-five years without parole. Despite the obvious challenges of pursuing meditation in prison—the overcrowded conditions; the violent, chaotic atmosphere; the lack of personal space—Maull committed himself to a path of Buddhist practice. While incarcerated, he ordained as a novice monk and completed the foundational practices of Tibetan Buddhism, which include over one hundred thousand prostrations. More »
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    Seven Reasons Why It's Better Not To Hate Them Paid Member

    I know how easy it is to sit around during this election year and smolder in rage. I have years of personal experience reading newspapers or listening to news while the urge to violence hijacks my mind. Getting wind of the latest degradation to decades-old environmental legislation or another slash to health care and education is sure to get me steaming. I have entertained countless fantasies of moving to another country (and that's the tame end of things). But in spite of my anger, rage, and disbelief, I have a commitment to try not to hate, or at least to try to temper my hate with a little bit of compassion and understanding. Why? Well, I think it's the sane way to be—and my dharma practice demands it. More »
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    Ten Practices to Change the World Paid Member

    1. VoteIf Buddha had added a ninth practice to the Eightfold Path, it might have been Right Voting. Voting is a manifestation of the law of interdependence: Each of our actions, no matter how small, affects the whole cosmos. Our votes count. True, more people voted for Gore than Bush in 2000, but a great many people did vote for Bush, and if just a handful more had voted for Gore, history would have unfolded differently. The law of karma is operative. There are many causes and conditions that get a person a job in the Oval Office—or the mayor's office, or the office of the superintendent of schools—but your voting is a big one. More »
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    Present Moment, Urgent Moment Paid Member

    As American Buddhists contemplate the present political moment, we may experience considerable confusion about what—if anything—we should do to make a difference. Isn’t the real work of Buddhists the individual inner work of rooting out the defilements (the kilesas) that impede our spiritual awakening? In 1992, while staying at a Thai forest monastery, I was told this by an eminent Western monk, who suggested that social work may help, but shouldn’t be confused with the heart of Buddhist practice.This view, which I have also heard from Mahayana teachers, has a basis in Buddhist tradition. The central focus of the Buddha’s teachings was on individual transformation for monastics. A clear boundary separated the monastery and "politics," which was understood (in a way very different from Western notions of politics) as related to the activities of kings. "Danger from kings" was a greater concern than danger from robbers, fire, or wild animals. More »