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Thread: Socially Engaged Buddhism

  1. #101

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    I don't mean to be offensive, so sorry if I came off as such.
    Not at all, man. I just meant, how are we supposed to bring peace to
    the world when we can't even bring it to this forum? Chett is just an
    example. I don't mean it in poor taste. Nor do I mean to dig up bones.
    I just mean, so long as peace is just a concept, is it really peace? I've
    had alot of religious nutts and organizations force their concept of peace
    on my life...all of them failed. I failed too. Peace is what's left when
    resistance is dropped. "You will be peaceful if you will accept my definition
    of peace for your life..." this is what most of us do to others. Be it
    Christianity, Buddhism, Humanism, whatever. Even the Buddha sat out
    innitially in search for his own self. He left his family, man. What he
    found benefited all of us. But at first it was all about him. What the hell
    is peace anyway? A webiste? A creed? Nope. Just doing what needs to
    be done to ease another person's suffering, moment by moment.

    gassho
    Greg

  2. #102

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    So, in response to your question...

    [quote="JohnsonCM"]What kind of things would you suggest to make Buddhism more visible in the West?"

    I would say, make it disappear. Along with every other religion. Let's stop
    pushing drugs and just start helping.

    gassho
    Greg

  3. #103
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Greg,

    I find your tone and voice rather offensive and provocative. Do you need to get unpleasant? If you hate religions or religious practice, why are you hanging aroud here? Can you learn to make a positive contribution without digging the old bones?

    What the hell
    is peace anyway? A webiste? A creed? Nope. Just doing what needs to
    be done to ease another person's suffering, moment by moment.
    Thank you also for these words. Very true. And yet not totally true.

    gassho


    Taigu

  4. #104

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    A Gassho on entrance,

    I must agree, doing what need be done is always good. But, I can't discount religion as a positive force now and then. Before Buddhism I was completely unconcerned with charity, more concerned with ME ME ME ME ME. Selfish, angry, spiteful. Not to say I don't have those moments, in fact they pop up at least a few times a day. But, the flames are no longer flamed as they used to.

    Religion isn't a necessity for life, I know of many who are more giving than anyone and exist without a foundation of religion. So really, couldn't it be said more so that taking a look ourselves, whether prompted by the mirror of religion or the mirror of life or the mirror of life as religion or the mirror of religion as life, is vital?

    I'm cautious to fall to either side, necessity or uselessness. So I end with "to each their own, by my own is through this".

    Gassho on exit,
    Taylor

  5. #105

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    by Taigu on Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:43 pm
    Greg,

    I find your tone and voice rather offensive and provocative. Do you need to get unpleasant? If you hate religions or religious practice, why are you hanging aroud here? Can you learn to make a positive contribution?
    I am here to learn. I am here to speak. I am here to be corrected.
    I didn't mean to be offensive. But how many fingers pointing at the
    moon have done any good? Buddha is dead. War is raging. Can you
    really say that you are any closer to the truth than you were when you
    began practicing buddhism? If you were you would be out in the street
    and not on the internet. I don't mean to sound offensive. I want a
    breakthrough. I am so tired of being let down. I want help. I want
    to help. I want Treeleaf to be the last place I look. I want too much
    maybe. But every group seems concerned with just "their group."
    "How can we make the world Christian?" "How can we make Americans
    Buddhist?" Bullcrap. Right now, there is snow on the ground. Single
    digit temperatures are on the way. There are homeless people sleeping
    on the sidewalk tonight. Meanwhile, I sit in warmth in front of a computer
    talking ABOUT religion. What's wrong here? Buddha is just a raft. Don't be
    afraid to let the air out of it. That's all I'm trying to do. I just want to get
    to the other side.

    gassho
    Gretg

  6. #106

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Buddhism was accidental. Another product of people clinging
    to something to ease their suffering. Yet how much suffering
    exists in countries which are predominately Buddhist? See?
    Buddha said, "Be a light unto yourself." I feel more like a
    moth at times, seeking whatever light I can find. Yet He said
    to do this. Not follow, but find. And where? Within. Myself?
    Yes, but other creatures too. Zen has gotten awful pretty in
    the West. What I want to know is, HOW DOES MY LIFE
    REFELCT MY BELIEF, MY PRACTICE? That is why I keep
    coming back to Treeleaf. When I doubt myself, I have Jundo
    and Taigu to fall back on. When they fail me, and they will
    and do, I have the response of the Sangha to rely on. There
    is a wonderful oneness here. I am a part of it. Even when
    I am bitching. If the journey is real, then it ain't always
    pretty.

    gassho
    Greg

  7. #107
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Point Taken Greg,

    this is my reply: I work as a teacher spending almost all my time working with the people that will make the world tomorrow. I have been on the streets helping and being helped (almost), I did spend 5 years of my life in London schools with nothing but daily abuse and violence to deal with. The big narrative, religious and political have proven to be illusions, we now live in a world where we have to find a way which is adequate to help. Sometimes just practice. Sometimes not helping is a form of helping. Sometimes doing what is needed where it is needed.
    You are right, the journey is not always pretty, far from it, but it is the way it is. Suchness. The other side is exactly who you are where you are with all this, computer, home, homeless people, peace and war. And yet, we have got some work to do.
    I like this picture of a moth. This is true for many people. I am now a sitting moth. Fo many people an idle insect, lazy and unproductive. Fors others, a flying thing doing the Backward step and reflecting light. Like you, I don't buy what politician say or religious leaders. I just try to work out of my practice and into the world.
    Thank you for this voice, your voice. And Buddha is not just a raft. It is the river, the boat, the landscape and the guy in it. To make a buddha it takes the countless buddhas, find one and you will get to the many. Embrace the many and find yourself back to a single one. YOU.

    gassho

    Taigu

  8. #108

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Like you, I don't buy what politician say or religious leaders. I just try to work out of my practice and into the world.
    Thank you for this voice, your voice. And Buddha is not just a raft. It is the river, the boat, the landscape and the guy in it. To make a buddha it takes the countless buddhas, find one and you will get to the many. Embrace the many and find yourself back to a single one. YOU.
    Taigu,

    Thank you for your voice. I am here out of respect. Here to learn.
    From you, Jundo, and others. And myself.
    Thank you for being big enough to see through my confusion.
    Part of our finding the light is our finding the darkness first, right?
    deep, deep bows

    gassho
    Greg

  9. #109

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I also have followed Zen PeaceMakers & their work. Have you thought of may be going that route where you are at?

  10. #110
    Stephanie
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hello all,

    I think one of the reasons that people can get tetchy about this topic is that whether or not we feel helpful and good is tied to so many deep seated emotions. Guilt, resentment, anger. This is one reason why I am wary of "help" efforts that bring a lot of attention to those doing the helping. I've learned in my personal and professional life that guilt actually prevents effective action, not promotes it.

    Funnily enough, this article by Ezra Bayda on "The Helper Syndrome" showed up on my Facebook feed this morning:
    http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/helper-syndrome

    I think it speaks well to the discussion here.

    I think it is important that we do not wait to try to do right action until we are fully wise, else little change would happen in the world, even when and where it is sorely needed. I remember listening to a talk by John Daido Loori where he said just that, that we must be willing to risk being wrong and foolish sometimes. That said, I think wisdom and clear examination of causes and effects is important in creating true change.

    Chris, you seem to me like a humble and thoughtful person. I respect that you revisit and re-examine your ideas. I am sorry if any of my words have seemed harsh, I have meant no disrespect. I just want to challenge some of these notions being thrown around here because I think they are counterproductive to what you seem to want to do.

    Stephanie

  11. #111

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Hello all,

    I think one of the reasons that people can get tetchy about this topic is that whether or not we feel helpful and good is tied to so many deep seated emotions. Guilt, resentment, anger. This is one reason why I am wary of "help" efforts that bring a lot of attention to those doing the helping. I've learned in my personal and professional life that guilt actually prevents effective action, not promotes it.

    Funnily enough, this article by Ezra Bayda on "The Helper Syndrome" showed up on my Facebook feed this morning:
    http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/helper-syndrome

    I think it speaks well to the discussion here.

    I think it is important that we do not wait to try to do right action until we are fully wise, else little change would happen in the world, even when and where it is sorely needed. I remember listening to a talk by John Daido Loori where he said just that, that we must be willing to risk being wrong and foolish sometimes. That said, I think wisdom and clear examination of causes and effects is important in creating true change.

    Chris, you seem to me like a humble and thoughtful person. I respect that you revisit and re-examine your ideas. I am sorry if any of my words have seemed harsh, I have meant no disrespect. I just want to challenge some of these notions being thrown around here because I think they are counterproductive to what you seem to want to do.

    Stephanie
    Stephanie,

    I appreciate your view point on this and I think that you couldn't be more right about the emotional ties to this topic, in fact, I think that is exactly the case on this (though admittedly you delivered it with much more tact than I was able to muster). I do, however think I've got that "not affraid to be wrong and foolish" thing down pat ops: . I respect your opinion, and I don't think I've ever taken offense to anything you've said. I respect it more when people like you feel strongly enough to challange my view point (or straight tell me to shut up! That's right, I'm looking at you Alan ) because I am not immune to the possibility of being deluded about my motivations. My point was to also challenge some of the ideas I've seen, because we should all be very careful that we are making decisions from a place of clarity, and there is just as much possibility that I am fooled into believing that my motivations here are pure, as there is that the other side of this conversation is jumping at shadows. But that's what's so great about this medium of conversation. We can see all sides of the conversation, and revisit it as many times as we want, to get a clearer perspective.

    I kind of thought about this today as I was walking into work. I've a hole in my shoe and some snow got in there and made my sock wet. I was frustrated with that, and a little put out, because I'm not a big fan of being wet and cold. But then it hit me, that somewhere, probably not far from where I was right then, someone was trying to sleep in that. Someone was trying to huddle into themselves to keep warm or was walking around with no where to go, simply so that their body would keep warm, because they had no where to go. That, I believe, is the sum total of my motivation here. I just don't want to see something like this fall to the way side because there was a misconception surrounding my motive.

    P.S. I will try to live up to being humble and thoughtful, I am a work in progress on that front.

  12. #112

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    But then it hit me, that somewhere, probably not far from where I was right then, someone was trying to sleep in that. Someone was trying to huddle into themselves to keep warm or was walking around with no where to go, simply so that their body would keep warm, because they had no where to go.

    Near my home is a homeless shelter. The folks staying there are not allowed to remain in the building during the day... They're also NOT permitted to leave their stuff... they have to carry all their belongings out with them.
    They're expected to be finding work, getting educated, whatever, doing things to improve their lives. But the reality is that a lot of them can do neither, for a million reasons, so, they simply spend their days in the Morristown Green, a park. Now, the thing is this: the Churches on and around the Green (except one,) lock their doors in the daytime... they don't want the guys sleeping in the pews, smoking in the bathrooms or drinking in the basement. (All of which, I'm told, happened ans are the reason these people aren't allowed in Christ's house any more.) Most of the local businesses are loath to allow them, unless they're paying customers. So, there are thirty or more people wandering around the Green, trying to get by until the Shelter reopens at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. As I sit here, it's 19 degrees (f) out, and very windy. there's over a foot of snow on the ground, and ice clings to everything. These are people out there NOW. So, I certainly feel where you're coming from with the urge to do something for someone.
    Nondualism tells me that the freezing guy looking for a dry spot to sit isn't anyone or anything different from myself. But if I see a sign for a coat drive, if I see someone freezing and have an extra hat in the car, if I see a guy standing outside the coffee shop while I'm on my way in for my morning coffee, I don't NEED a religion, or a movement, or a program to tell me what the right thing to do is. In fact, if I did, I'd be unworthy of that religion, movement or program, even an unworthy human being, wouldn't I?
    But it strikes me: I CAN do the right thing in someone else's name... or in the name of my Sangha... and maybe doing so will help take some more of the "self" and ego out of the equation... maybe being part of something bigger ought to be made of smaller, simpler things. Maybe knowing there's more than one of us out there could provide a support structure and network of thought and ideas to lean on for the giver, and let the reciever know there're a lot more out there willing to help.
    Just my own ideas and thoughts. Hope I haven't offended.

  13. #113

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Actually, you are very much speaking about the same thing that I am. I have never advocated that we create some huge movement to do anything, nor do we NEED any religion or movement to do the right thing. But, if we were all together on something, many hands makes the load lighter. Plus, we can both agree that there are people out there who do nothing, who blatanly walk by the freezing man or woman, and wouldn't even think to stop and get them a hot cup of coffee or give them a scarf. Maybe if they had the opportunity to look into the Teachings, and they took that opportunity, they might act differently, they might also realize that they and that unfortunate man are not two.

  14. #114

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    With respect, I don't think someone who'd walk past a cold homeless person (or anyone in genuine need,) without a thought is likely to be of a mindset or at a point in life where they'd seek (or be interested in) the Dharma. However, it's likely that the person who is HELPED would, even if it had nothing to do with reading sutras or participating in meditation. THAT person might just commit their own act of charitable or compassionate kindness... and that is what interests me.

  15. #115

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    You may be right, but that seems a tad.....judgmental. You never know, and either way someone's heart was touched.

  16. #116

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    You may be right, but that seems a tad.....judgmental. You never know, and either way someone's heart was touched.

    Nah, no judgement. Just reporting what I've seen. But you're right... you never know.

  17. #117

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    im really interested in begging, and the fact that buddha was a beggar; when he visited his father's city and his father told him it was shameful to beg and that he should go back to the palace, buddha refused.

    begging is asking for something in exchange for nothing, buddha seems to have made it a big part of his practice and sangha.

    i have walked by and avoided every single beggar and homeless person i've seen for many years. they can be drunk, high, dangerous and violent. i had one who was high screaming and muttering that he was going to kill me walking right alongside me for a while as i was trying to get myself and my wife away from him. scary.

    somewhere i read that buddha instructed his disciples not to avoid begging even at the poorest person's house, since even the poorest person may gain some happiness by giving to the disciple, if not today then on another day.

    i think homeless beggars are perhaps in some ways closer to buddhahood than i could be; they have no chance of learning zazen, they may die soon of diseases like AIDS and what not, they have infinite vulnerability and suffering, they have no respect from others nor themselves, nothing to be attached to, one step east is the same as one step west for them. like buddha they depend on begging; whereas the only thing i beg from them is for them to leave me alone, and like a buddha might, that they give me, for the most part.

    perhaps in some philosophical way it is condescending to think of us "helping the homeless": i havent seen "social engagement" on the part of the sangha written in buddhist scripture. indeed ive also often thought it odd that so many of us awakening buddhists seem to be, or have been, quite satisfactorily close to middle class, whereas buddha's sangha were all evidently beggars, including some who had even left aristocracy like buddha. the laity giving to the sanga is the only mention of social engagement in the scripture that i've read; perhaps before we get around to social engagement and giving, we may try to see them as the buddhas and teachers and us as the laity..

    but practically i wonder how it matters. perhaps next time i see one i might throw a coin in thinking of this post?

  18. #118

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    somewhere i read that buddha instructed his disciples not to avoid begging even at the poorest person's house, since even the poorest person may gain some happiness by giving to the disciple, if not today then on another day.


    I'm reminded of a part of Fr. Girzone's beautiful book, "Joshua," a Christian parable about what might happen in a small community if the kind guy who moved into the empty house at the end of the block were actually Jesus... in it, "Joshua" is invited into the home of a very poor family, and he leaves with gifts from their already meager stores of food. Ignoring his protests, they joyfully give what they have. "Joshua" thinks, emotionally, "The poor... they never have enough for themselves, but they always have enough to share."

    I also find it fascinating that both Judaeo-Christian writings and Buddhist scriptures contain stories and ideas (be they parables or not,) regarding oil lasting without end, inextinguishable flames, and the gift of a penny from a poor widow being more valuable than any other gift because she was giving all she had.

  19. #119
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Gongli, I think what you say is fascinating in a way.But i do have to disagree with you on some points.

    I think our views of socially engaged buddhism may differ a bit. Looking a bit beyond the definition, I see it as a way to reach out and assist the community (not two! ). To learn how to share and teach others through actions to do the same.

    In the common usage of the term it's more of a group activity for sure. But it doesn't have to be. It's mainly about carrying the Dharma out into the open, no flag waving neccessary. Sometimes it is easier to accomplish one's goals as a group of likeminded individuals. But i don't feel that it has to be a team event, tho in many cases it may be easier as a group to be accepted to help. Aot of places ask you to fill out an application just to volunteer and work for free. So having a group to back you up ,expecially one who is a bit recognized, may in fact expediate the helping in some cases.

    For myself, when i think of socially engaged buddhism i lump in the generous acts we all do as individuals too. In my view, simply giving a single homeless person a small offering of food or money I am taking part in socially engaged buddhism. I take part when I donate to a charity be it local or otherwise. And I do it without hesitation as I can (overall i'm a broke ass ninja and it still hurts my heart when i can't give to help others).

    Buddha may not have used the term socially engaged buddhism. But he did practice and teach giving and helpin others..even as a beggar. Sure on the outside begging is taking without giving. But i feel in this case begging was used as a modality to not live materialistic. The coin or food was used by the monk or temple to help them perpetuate the Dharma. There is a story I read once that i don't remember the exact details so will paraphrase and try to keep it succint ( not my strong suit).

    There was a zen priest looking to start a new monastery/temple etc in the village where he lived. He wandered around the countryside taking donations to help him achieve his goal. He spent years collecting this money and when he was ready to start on his project a great tragedy of some sort occurred within the village. So instead he gave all the money to the people to help them recover. He then sets out again to ask donations for his project. Collects the money and as he is ready to star BEHOLD! another tragedy occurs in the village. And he uses all his money again to help the village.

  20. #120
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Whooops part 2 thanks to comp flub.

    I'm sure i flubbed some bit of the lil story. So someone can feel free to correct me, but i made the point i was trying to.

    I remember there used to be a group of homeless guys that always had the signs going near a former emplyer of mine. I would walk by them almost every day as i went to get lunch. It started as the basic " Hey, man can ya spare some change. Maybe a few dollars." Overtime I offered them help as a could. Few dollars here, got extra food at Taco Bell so i had something to give them. They left me alone and eventually just said "hey,Dave" and introduced themselves. I still helped them as i could. One day there was a new guy who was getting all irrate at me over not being able to give. The rest of them casually told him to be nice because i helped them as i could even when i didn't have much for myself.

    So homeless folks do come in various forms. At one point in TX there was some fucked up methead harrassing me and starting to get pretty loud over a few quarters i needed for my laundry( as this was outside the laundromat).

    But i don't let the one obviously severely problemed tweeker keep me from giving to others.So, yes, it is reasonable to fear given certain circumstances. But remember they are people too.

    In general it is best to give things like food and water not money.

  21. #121

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hi
    I was just wondering if we're going to revisit this idea vis-a-vis Treeleaf.

  22. #122

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Hi
    I was just wondering if we're going to revisit this idea vis-a-vis Treeleaf.
    The wheels of getting things done around here sometimes turn slowly. I am sorry for that. There will be news on this very soon.

    Gassho, J

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