Social Justice

Buddhism teaches that we are noble by our actions, not by birth or circumstance
  • Tricycle Community 30 comments

    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 »
  • Tricycle Community 1 comment

    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 »
  • Tricycle Community 8 comments

    The Heartful Dodger Paid Member

    One bitter night, in the rough end of New Haven, Connecticut, fifteen-year-old Vinny Ferraro and his friends were hanging out as usual by the projects, near the corner where Ferraro sold drugs—mostly coke, but also heroin, hash, and LSD. His father, a junkie and career criminal, had schooled Ferraro in the trade. “You’re the man of the house now,” he had told Ferraro over the phone from prison—meaning he was expected to sell drugs to support his mother, also an addict, and two sisters. In fact, Ferraro couldn’t remember a time before drugs or the constant, gut-gnawing menace and paranoia that came with the game: He’d first smuggled heroin into jail for his old man when he was ten. More »
  • Tricycle Community 1 comment

    Good Work Paid Member

    When Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in May 2008, it took the lives of nearly 150,000 people and left at least a million homeless. While relief organizations waited at the country’s borders to deliver aid, the Foundation for the People of Burma (FPB) was already there. Working with partners in Rangoon, the San Francisco–based foundation provided immediate relief in the form of food, water, construction, and equipment to thousands in need. More »
  • Tricycle Community 4 comments

    She's Got the Beat Paid Member

      There’s a story Cheri Maples tells about the first time she saw her Buddhist practice in action. The year was 1991, and Maples, then a patrol cop on the Madison, Wisconsin police force, was responding to a domestic violence call. A divorced dad was holding his young daughter hostage, refusing to hand her over to his ex-wife after a weekend visit. When Maples interceded, he threatened her. Ordinarily, she would have slapped handcuffs on the guy and hauled him off to jail. But she had just sat her first retreat with the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and the experience “had broken open my heart,” Maples says. She persuaded the father to release his daughter and then, instead of arresting him, spoke to him from her heart. Within minutes, he was in tears. More »
  • Tricycle Community 6 comments

    Silence in the Pagoda Paid Member