August 28, 2007

Navel Gazers & Firebrands

Ajahn Punnadhammo asks: "Is there a doctrinal aspect of Buddhism that hinders action in the world?" In his most recent post, the Theravada monk goes on to offer an answer of his own:

Possibly. There is the underlying sense that this conditioned realm is inherently flawed and will always be so. However, there is also a very great emphasis on compassion for all beings caught in it. And there are plenty of scriptural references to the Buddha advising on how to live a comfortable and decent life within this world, and even commenting on what we would relate to as social or political questions.

The ajahn's post was inspired by Bhikkhu Bodhi's article appearing in the current issue of Buddhadharma, published by the Shambhala Sun, the Canadian bimonthly founded by the late Chogyam Trungpa Rincpoche.

I'm sure Ajahn Punnadhammo's will not be the only attempt to wrestle with this provocative question. Somewhere between navel gazers and firebrands lies the Middle Way, if only we could find it. Bhikkhu Bodhi's opening salvo is bound to spawn many like discussions, and Ajahn Punnadhammo's post is an apt opener.

- James Shaheen, editor


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