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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Dalai Lama On Social Activism

Our first priority should be to prepare a long-term strategy for improving the state of the world that focuses on the coming generations.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Imagine All the People"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A,

James's Comment: This is more encouragement to become socially active to help improve the state of the world. In our modern world social activism is indeed apart of the Bodhisattva vow to help others to obtain enlightenment.

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Lans said...

What a wonderful quote and comment.

I think this social activism comes in all sizes. From world leaders needing to make plans large scale projects for improving peace and the state of the world to you or me becoming in helping the three people that live under that bridge we drive by every day. Social activism should have no limits large or small.

Gareth said...

This is something I've been wondering about recently, in many schools of Buddhism the only form of social activism is spreading the dharma - which is a wonderful thing, but I often wonder if we can't do more in the way of material social activism.

I'm not sure - teaching the dharma, does lead to the cessation of suffering - but in the short term shouldn't we be doing something about material suffering as well?

"James" said...

lans: I couldn't agree with you more.

gareth: I think that in this world which we live in that we have a duty to be engaged in social activism to help society in any way that we can. That is part of the Bodhisattva path.

Nacho said...

Hey guys, it seems that the question is not one of "whether" but "how." That still raises difficulties, since questions of how, that is, of efficiency, methods, causes, effects, etc., and some issues, will not see simple answers or resolution, and will encounter much disagreement. I agree with James on the path of the Bodhisattva. The trick is how to always walk a path that tries to do no harm, deeply cognizant about the consequences of our actions, and neither world-rejecting or world-romanticizing (not same as romancing) and losing ourselves in it.

If the dharma is everywhere (the dharmakaya) and we are all buddhas to be, then we must act in the world we have in the present in front of us. There are many ways of acting, and those may differ for people. Sometimes a wise course of action might be not to jump at "doing." Whatever the case, our humanity calls us to act, and our practice does not deter us from acting wisely or mindfully. And in my estimation, that does not mean a limp-rag, wishy washy kind of action. I think the question has no firm answer precisely because it is a question that has to be lived in practice.

Thanks for the quote, and thanks for the comments! We ought to talk more about this. : )

All the best,


Gareth said...

nacho - I think you have phrased the question well. This is part of something I'm struggling with at the moment, having reached a place in my life where I can ask what next?

There are many possibilities, and the question of how I can reconcile whatever choice I make with the bodhisattva path is a very important one.

"James" said...

Nacho: "I think the question has no firm answer precisely because it is a question that has to be lived in practice."

Well said. Each situation requires different actions or even non-action sometimes. Non-action especially when our actions would harm the environment or put others in harms way, etc.

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