Socially Engaged Buddhism is a path dedicated to a peaceful & just society in which personal and collective liberation are thoroughly linked. For us, daily life consists of a contemplative, spiritual practice, and the commitment to wise civic engagement that has at its base the actions of the ancestors who came before us, the works of others, and our present moment intentions to plant seeds of social equality, peace, and justice for all.
The core teachings of the Buddha – Conditioned Co-Arising, Impermanence, No Separate Self, Cause & Effect – indicate that culture/society is not something that is ordained from outside. All things that are culture have been conditioned by nature and human choice. All systems of economics, politics, social structure, etc., have been co-created by the conditioned choices of human beings over time. This means that they can be unmade/remade by human choices. Cause & Effect is both an Individual and a Collective matter. Not only are we able as individuals to change our habits, transform our hearts and minds, and attain the peace of Nirvana, we are also able to affect the unjust and unequal systems of society by a wise engagement with our communities. An engagement that comes from the heart – based in mutual aid, compassion and joy.
When you look closely at the cultural milieu that the Buddha was born into, and the totality of the early teachings of what later became known as Buddhism, it is clear that his teachings were a complete system of individual and collective happiness. Not only did he offer teachings related to an individual’s ability to cut through the existential angst of being alive, he also offered a moral path that went against the grain of a very unbalanced society. A society that was stratified to maintain the power of elites, treated women as a form of property, allowed slavery and maintained power through the manipulation of sacred texts and social morays.
In our work of wise engagement with society, we have been influenced by the Work That Reconnects of Joanna Macy, the influence Thich Nhat Hanh had on engaged Buddhism when he first began to teach in the West, the practices of our teachers at Ordinary Dharma/Manzanita Village, and the Dharma Practice of Ajahn Buddhadasa as we are coming to understand it through our relationship with Liberation Park and Santikaro.
This is a work in progress. Each day is a chance to plant seeds of joy and well-being in our own hearts and minds, and the collective heart that is our community.
If you are interested in connecting with like-minded people around bringing a deep spiritual grounding to wise civic engagement, please contact us.