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Thread: Socially Engaged Buddhism

  1. #51
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Thanks for your post Keishin

    Nishijima Roshi has talked about buddhism as being not a religion but a philosophy of action.
    Perhaps it is best to 'polish the tile' first, knowing that the polishing polishes everything.

    I have always had a nagging doubt that any extra ventures can distract from the central practices, particularly since work and family takes up a lot of time.

    Back to polishing

    Gassho Nigel.

  2. #52

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I don't think there is anything wrong with Socially Engaged Buddhism per se, but the act is best done anonymously as possible as part of your everyday life. The Diamond Sutra talks linked here recently reminded me that to think you have gained merit by helping others is just another hindrance to being here now so you can truly help others and btw you are the others also.

    I'm trying to do more for the people I have direct contact with rather than just give money to organizations. Volunteering - giving your time and energy and resources is the best social engagement.

    Just thinking.

  3. #53
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    As far as wanting buddhism to be more accessible to others which Christopher raised (this is a perennial topic--as raised in multiple past posts) ; well in this day of google and internet, it couldn't be more accessible or more easy to find a group to sit with, locate books about various sects, etc. Accessible, it is; but finding it, or stumbling across it, is not the same as sticking with it.

    I would never urge someone to take up this practice (zen buddhism) nor would I suggest that anyone 'become' buddhist. I offer my support of anyone who has taken up this practice.
    There is a difference.
    Agree.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    I don't think there is anything wrong with Socially Engaged Buddhism per se, but the act is best done anonymously as possible as part of your everyday life. The Diamond Sutra talks linked here recently reminded me that to think you have gained merit by helping others is just another hindrance to being here now so you can truly help others and btw you are the others also.

    I'm trying to do more for the people I have direct contact with rather than just give money to organizations. Volunteering - giving your time and energy and resources is the best social engagement.
    Totally, totally agree. I have picked up a volunteer gig, and I make efforts every day to be kinder to the people I come in contact with, to really listen to them speak, and to be more compassionate with my mother :wink: . And I'm not going to wear a Buddha around my neck, if you know what I mean.

    Also, it occurs to me throughout all this that . . . well . . . socially isolated people? Dude, I fit that category! I've always been slow to join things, very solitary. I'm trying to be a bit more socially engaged, accepting invitations to outings with friends and family, stuff like that. 8)

  4. #54

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I, would not agree. The internet has made many things accessible, true. For instance there are many people in the world that find collecting skunks to be a valuable and rewarding past time. And, for all I know, it may be. But I would almost certainly never know about it, even though it is available on the internet, unless someone said, "Hey Chris, I know this may sound a little different, but....." and then told me WHY it might be rewarding to collect skunks. I, again, must disagree with "urging" someone to follow this path. I personally believe that the more the merrier, and certainly that this is one path to enlightenment. I would never try to convert someone, in the sense of trying to be a missionary, but certainly I would want people to know about the misconceptions around Buddhism, and perhaps shed what poor and dim light I may have on some of it.

    Why on earth did Bodhidharma travel to China from India? Why did Dogen go to China and then bring the teachings back to Japan? Why have others like Aitken Roshi, Goddard, Deshimaru Roshi, bring the teachings to Europe and America? Have you read the English translation of what comes in the Rakusu envelope? The last few sentences are "You should receive them in deep faith and not permit them to be discontinued. For this I earnestly pray."

    There is a difference between forcing a person to follow a religion or making it so that one cannot possibly turn away from it if they are not interested in it, and simply making it accessible and available. That's really what the internet did, it made it available, but not accessible. Offering your support, of course, a laudable thing, but not the only way, and there is nothing in our Way against saying, "Hey, here are some things about Zen, you can check it out, or not, whichever you choose." But at least you started them thinking about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    The Diamond Sutra talks linked here recently reminded me that to think you have gained merit by helping others is just another hindrance to being here now so you can truly help others and btw you are the others also.
    I agree, helping others because you feel that you gain merit, even if that merit is devoted to others is not in keeping with our Way. Such a thought would be delusion. However, that having been said, believing that going out into this world and bringing the teachings with you, and actively telling others about them (much like our Ancestors did) would be wrong, or trying to force our Way on others, may be just as much of a delusion.

    I can respect that many don't want to do anything that will disparage the Three Treasures or cheapen the Way, but do not mistake the finger for the moon.

    I would like to suggest that we think about sitting in a public place (warm months) and pick something in our own community. A food bank, the homeless population, pollution, something that causes suffering. And make up something that gives information on how people can help or participate, and sit. Just make a sign, give the info away, and sit. Or we can all pick a cause together, and whomever wants to participate can simply pick a month where they sit somewhere for this cause, with Treeleaf approved information on how to help, and sit for an hour or two on a weekend.

    Thoughts?

  5. #55

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hello friends,

    Just a thought: since this thread is about

    A.) Doing good works, and
    B.) Making Buddhism more visible and accessible...

    ...why don't we continue with what we're each doing individually in our communities, and also work as a group to raise money for struggling temples and centers?

    Just a thought. Any comments?

    Metta,

    Perry

  6. #56
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    The problem I have with a lot of "socially engaged Buddhism" is that it's very self-righteous. I think that misses the point. People are by nature cooperative beings who, for the most part, are motivated to help others. It's not that grandiose, people without any grand religious mission help each other out all of the time.

    That said, it's also very easy to talk and analyze endlessly, rather than go out there and actually make someone else's life a little easier.

    As for that project I suggested, it was at Jundo's invitation. I understood that the project would be collaborative from the get-go--collaborative with Jundo and the entire sangha in planning and execution. I have no interest in that being a solo project.

    I think it would be valuable for Treeleaf sangha members to collaborate on a project rather than just everyone go out and do their own things. I've just started reading a book called Unlearning the Basics and the author brings attention to how much the Buddha emphasized the importance of a cohesive sangha in spiritual health and development.

    I've found the Skype "tea parties" essential in keeping me connected with Treeleaf and supporting my practice. Without that, I might not have stuck with Treeleaf, whereas now, I feel a tangible connection with people here, a friendship and support and inspiration that couldn't have happened reading messages alone. So I think some sort of community project would serve a dual function of fulfilling our bodhisattva vows and creating more cohesion and community among Treeleafers.

    If folks like my idea and want to bring it back up to work on it some more, cool. I think it would need a lot of analysis and planning to be successful. That said, if anyone else has an idea for a different community project, I would be interested in participating in that also.

    But I'm not going to make much of all this talk back and forth about social engagement until I actually see Treeleafers do something. I really got a feel for the disconnect between speech and action when I posted that thread. People acted enthusiastic until it was actually time to do something. Everyone liked the part of coming up with independent ideas but not so much collaborating to bring one idea into life and action. So let's either do something or shut up, in my opinion.

  7. #57

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hi.

    For those interested in the Teaparty, here's the thread.
    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2540&start=0

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  8. #58

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    As for that project I suggested, it was at Jundo's invitation. I understood that the project would be collaborative from the get-go--collaborative with Jundo and the entire sangha in planning and execution. I have no interest in that being a solo project.

    I think it would be valuable for Treeleaf sangha members to collaborate on a project rather than just everyone go out and do their own things. I've just started reading a book called Unlearning the Basics and the author brings attention to how much the Buddha emphasized the importance of a cohesive sangha in spiritual health and development.

    If folks like my idea and want to bring it back up to work on it some more, cool. I think it would need a lot of analysis and planning to be successful. That said, if anyone else has an idea for a different community project, I would be interested in participating in that also.

    But I'm not going to make much of all this talk back and forth about social engagement until I actually see Treeleafers do something. I really got a feel for the disconnect between speech and action when I posted that thread. People acted enthusiastic until it was actually time to do something. Everyone liked the part of coming up with independent ideas but not so much collaborating to bring one idea into life and action. So let's either do something or shut up, in my opinion.
    Good morning friends,

    Stephanie, if I may: I stopped responding to the "Web of Interconnection" thread because it seemed to me, after a few days, that you already had the plan fully formed very early on, and that it was just a matter of waiting for implementation. I sensed that no input was wanted, and so I withheld any comments I had at that time. Perhaps I was incorrect, and if so I apologize.

    That having been said, I think that it is a good idea, although a maybe a difficult one. Perhaps something that we can all do "on our own, together" would be a better starting ground; something such as a multiplicity of small projects, with small groups working on them that could ultimately lead to the "Web of Interconnection" master-plan?

    I know that I am, as a rule, a very eremitic individual, and haven't done much on a larger scale (which is not to say that I am opposed to such an endeavor). I suspect that I am not the only one in our sangha in this, or a similar, position.

    For example: we could have a group design a pamphlet about the project, explaining the project as detailed in the other thread. Another could perhaps coordinate willing members in different time zones and locales to implement the above-mentioned "placard sitting" sessions to distribute said pamphlet, while a third monitors and processes any inquiries or applications for the project (I'm not sure that's the correct word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment. My apologies).

    I'm just spit-balling, and I'm sure that there are better ideas out there than this. Perhaps we could set up another thread, or a group-chat, or a special edition of the Tea Party (if our Rev. Fugen would be so inclined) to discuss this?

    Metta,

    Perry

  9. #59

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    For example: we could have a group design a pamphlet about the project, explaining the project as detailed in the other thread. Another could perhaps coordinate willing members in different time zones and locales to implement the above-mentioned "placard sitting" sessions to distribute said pamphlet, while a third monitors and processes any inquiries or applications for the project (I'm not sure that's the correct word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment. My apologies).
    This is, I think, the perfect starting point for this. I think that we should come up with a list of things that motivate us, things that really touch us, select one, and sit publicly for it.

    Some Ideas:

    1. Peace in the Sudan
    2. A free Tibet
    3. Homlessness in our individual areas
    4. Children orphaned by AIDS in Africa
    5. Cancer Research - Especially cancer affecting children (or any sickness where children are at particular risk)
    6. Domestic violence
    7. Peace in the Middle East - perhaps some sort of multi-culture understanding program or an inter-faith solution type thing (that's the technical term)

  10. #60
    Stephanie
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    So we're interested in "social engagement" but not if it involves, um, socially engaging with members of the Treeleaf community?

    If we can't support, connect to, or work with members of our own community, what good are we going to do anyone else?

    I'll be patiently waiting for that moment when Treeleafers come together to work on a shared project...

  11. #61

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Perhaps we could set up another thread, or a group-chat, or a special edition of the Tea Party (if our Rev. Fugen would be so inclined) to discuss this?
    Hi.

    First, thanks for calling me revered, but im noone special really... :roll:

    Secondly, sure, we can do that, as the teaparty is open for everyone and everything to be discussed.
    You are free to submit any questions you want me (or Shohei) to bring up or bring them up yourself.

    Third, in the end, no matter how big project we get rolling, its what you do that matters.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  12. #62

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    So we're interested in "social engagement" but not if it involves, um, socially engaging with members of the Treeleaf community?

    If we can't support, connect to, or work with members of our own community, what good are we going to do anyone else?

    I'll be patiently waiting for that moment when Treeleafers come together to work on a shared project...
    Hello Stephanie,

    May I ask where in the above you got the impression that we're discounting working with each other on this project? If it is the "public sitting" option, do you not think that even something small, if it engages any number of us in a common project, is a good start?

    I believe that in the last posts by Fugen, Chris, and myself, we are all offering to work together in order to put into place the conditions for a project to succeed in the long-run.

    Metta,

    Perry

  13. #63
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Well, upon re-reading, I seem to have gotten the wrong impression: I thought people were discussing doing individual projects but it seems it was more about doing small group projects. I would still like to see a sangha-wide project, but small projects are good too.

  14. #64

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Well, upon re-reading, I seem to have gotten the wrong impression: I thought people were discussing doing individual projects but it seems it was more about doing small group projects. I would still like to see a sangha-wide project, but small projects are good too.
    Well, if the public sitting option is what we go with, we could still all come together on it, even if we don't all sit publicly. We could all weigh in on what cause we could choose, how best to support it, the creation, editing, research of materials and groups or organizations that people could contribute to or volunteer with. We can all interact on how best to represent Treeleaf while doing this. It could be supported by the entire sangha, even if only a few of us decide to sit publicly.

  15. #65
    Stephanie
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Honestly, I'm not into public sittings. I don't think they accomplish anything. Protest about "big ticket causes" doesn't seem to do much these days, at least not for the causes. It seems to be more about stoking the self-righteousness of the protesters. Making other people feel guilty, to the extent they don't automatically feel indifferent about causes that seem so far removed from their lives. I'm more interested in direct action that effects immediate change.

  16. #66

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Honestly, I'm not into public sittings. I don't think they accomplish anything. Protest about "big ticket causes" doesn't seem to do much these days, at least not for the causes. It seems to be more about stoking the self-righteousness of the protesters. Making other people feel guilty, to the extent they don't automatically feel indifferent about causes that seem so far removed from their lives. I'm more interested in direct action that effects immediate change.
    I would agree, Stephanie, about the "big ticket causes" referenced above. I would much rather work to strengthen the local network of food pantries and maybe help a group create a full-fledged homeless shelter. However, if this is going to be a Sangha-wide project, it needs to be big enough, ultimately, for all of us to be able to contribute from where we are.

    Also, I can think of very few ways to "get the message out," as it were, that do not seem like either selling something or proselytizing to the public. Plus it would, in order to satisfy the requirement of "engaging with members of our own Sangha," need to be something that we could all participate in. Sitting seems to me to be the best option. Visible and available, but not flashy, pushy, or preachy.

    I honestly can't think of a better option than this. It seems like it would be relatively easy to set up, the costs would be very low, and it would be open to whomever wished to participate. However, I'm completely open to any other suggestions. Indeed, it seems that there are only a few people talking on this thread--maybe the wider Sangha could post ideas for either a first project, or a first cause?

    Metta,

    Perry

  17. #67
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I agree with your general principles, Perry, about how to make this project workable.

    I still contend that a great direction to go with this project would be to utilize the Internet. The truth is that very few of us live in close proximity with other Treeleafers. I think a project that utilized our Internet base as a strength and resource rather than an obstacle would be excellent. The "Web of Interconnection" project was just one idea of how to do this, but there are others.

    Just as people have experienced on Treeleaf that an Internet based sangha can be a true support to practice and create a true experience of sangha, I think people can experience that the Internet can be used as a tool for positive change. And not just in the sense of making donations on charity websites or bringing attention to issues. I suspect most of us who have found our way here have been helped in one way or another through our use of the Internet. It has helped me connect to people, learn about my area, fend off loneliness, and access resources.

    So my first idea was using the Internet as a way to reach out to socially isolated individuals and serve them in some way. I still think this idea is in keeping with the spirit of Treeleaf. But maybe it could benefit from a more tangible goal. Many people have expressed an interest in issues of hunger and homelessness. I think the Internet could be used well to address these issues. To help locate housing options or support resources for individuals who are homeless. To aid in location of areas where people are affected by hunger and to facilitate food delivery to them.

    And what about the fact we have many members who are bilingual or multilingual? So many people struggle with the challenges presented by trying to communicate with others who literally don't speak their language. What a service that would be, to help foster communication between people who are divided by language.

    These are all just ideas. I personally would love to see a project that met a few criteria: (1) a sangha-wide project that facilitates deeper interaction and bonding among sangha members; (2) a project that utilizes the Internet; and (3) a 'hands-on' project that effects immediate results and fosters direct interaction with those whom we seek to serve.

    Those are my thoughts.

  18. #68

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I agree with your general principles, Perry, about how to make this project workable.

    I still contend that a great direction to go with this project would be to utilize the Internet. The truth is that very few of us live in close proximity with other Treeleafers. I think a project that utilized our Internet base as a strength and resource rather than an obstacle would be excellent. The "Web of Interconnection" project was just one idea of how to do this, but there are others.

    Just as people have experienced on Treeleaf that an Internet based sangha can be a true support to practice and create a true experience of sangha, I think people can experience that the Internet can be used as a tool for positive change. And not just in the sense of making donations on charity websites or bringing attention to issues. I suspect most of us who have found our way here have been helped in one way or another through our use of the Internet. It has helped me connect to people, learn about my area, fend off loneliness, and access resources.

    So my first idea was using the Internet as a way to reach out to socially isolated individuals and serve them in some way. I still think this idea is in keeping with the spirit of Treeleaf. But maybe it could benefit from a more tangible goal. Many people have expressed an interest in issues of hunger and homelessness. I think the Internet could be used well to address these issues. To help locate housing options or support resources for individuals who are homeless. To aid in location of areas where people are affected by hunger and to facilitate food delivery to them.

    These are all just ideas. I personally would love to see a project that met a few criteria: (1) a sangha-wide project that facilitates deeper interaction and bonding among sangha members; (2) a project that utilizes the Internet; and (3) a 'hands-on' project that effects immediate results and fosters direct interaction with those whom we seek to serve.

    Those are my thoughts.
    Hm...what *if*:

    1.) There was a separate section of this site (or an entirely new site) set up as a sort of virtual resource-center, to be continually updated, on our cause. This could include things such as:
    - Who we are
    - What we're doing
    - How to help
    - Resources for setting up a similar project in another location

    2.) We print fliers/business cards and distribute them to employment agencies, unemployment offices, food pantries, and homeless centers with contact information for the local...let's call them "agents." (NOTE: I'm not suggesting giving out a personal phone number, per-se. When I was instructing on Anapanasati, I had a pre-paid "bat-phone" who's number I would give out as a contact for that purpose)

    3.) We network with other similar local groups to find options that may be hitherto unknown to our..."clients?" (maybe?)

    4.) Most importantly: We meet with said clients on a regular basis, and provide ongoing support and information in order to help them out of the difficulties they find themselves in.

    Just a musing. I think that this would meet all of the necessary criteria. However, I would still like to leave the 'sitting' option open to those who are so inclined.

    What do you all thinK?

  19. #69
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I like your ideas. Networking with other established groups is always a good thing.

    There's no reason there can only be one project. The sitting project may be meaningful and appealing to some, and perhaps I am too cynical about it.

    One of my "pet causes" is alternatives to incarceration, and I have worked professionally in this capacity. I know many inmates have found Buddhism helpful while incarcerated. And many have some, or limited, Internet access. That could be another project, setting up a forum for incarcerated Buddhists to seek knowledge and feedback.

    I like the idea of having a particular area of the site where people post ideas. I think perhaps you are right that getting several small projects started would be more likely to get the ball rolling than one huge project that may not appeal to all.

  20. #70

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I like your ideas. Networking with other established groups is always a good thing.

    There's no reason there can only be one project. The sitting project may be meaningful and appealing to some, and perhaps I am too cynical about it.

    One of my "pet causes" is alternatives to incarceration, and I have worked professionally in this capacity. I know many inmates have found Buddhism helpful while incarcerated. And many have some, or limited, Internet access. That could be another project, setting up a forum for incarcerated Buddhists to seek knowledge and feedback.

    I like the idea of having a particular area of the site where people post ideas. I think perhaps you are right that getting several small projects started would be more likely to get the ball rolling than one huge project that may not appeal to all.
    ...which brings us back to the question of funding. Someone pays for this site, and I think it unfair to saddle him/her/them with an additional cost. Does anyone have any thoughts as to how to make this self-sufficient? I'm willing to donate what I've got, but I doubt that would cover the expenses.

    Metta,

    Perry

  21. #71

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Well, we can always go back to the Treeleaf beanie idea. Maybe something like a black beanie with the broken pine needle on the front in green and on the back "Treeleaf.org" in white stiching? Maybe have a bowl when sitting?

  22. #72

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Well, we can always go back to the Treeleaf beanie idea. Maybe something like a black beanie with the broken pine needle on the front in green and on the back "Treeleaf.org" in white stiching? Maybe have a bowl when sitting?
    Hello Chris,

    I could get everything set up re: clothing, but I'm going to wait until our esteemed teachers weigh in first. I must admit that I'm still a little uneasy with merchandise, but I'm sure we could make it work. I have family in the digital-printing business, or we could go the cafe-press route.

    In any case, I would say that we have a group to oversee any monies gained in this project, instead of just one individual. Being a banker, I've seen too many sad situations to be completely comfortable with one individual having sole-control of the funds. Maybe a weekly/monthly report with detailed records for income and expenses?

    Metta,

    Perry

  23. #73

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Well, we can always go back to the Treeleaf beanie idea. Maybe something like a black beanie with the broken pine needle on the front in green and on the back "Treeleaf.org" in white stiching? Maybe have a bowl when sitting?
    Hello Chris,

    I could get everything set up re: clothing, but I'm going to wait until our esteemed teachers weigh in first. I must admit that I'm still a little uneasy with merchandise, but I'm sure we could make it work. I have family in the digital-printing business, or we could go the cafe-press route.

    In any case, I would say that we have a group to oversee any monies gained in this project, instead of just one individual. Being a banker, I've seen too many sad situations to be completely comfortable with one individual having sole-control of the funds. Maybe a weekly/monthly report with detailed records for income and expenses?

    Metta,

    Perry
    That would be awesome. I completely agree with the unease. I don't want to start something that gets us off the track of what we wanted to start this for, giving real help to real people who really need it. I would be more then happy to work with you on this, I have also been in the financial field for some time and am currently the internal auditor for a credit union, so we should be able to put something like that together, if that's where this thing goes.

    Of course, I too await our teachers and their say. Wisdom before beauty after all...... :lol:

  24. #74

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I completely forgot also....

    There is a whole application already online that would work perfectly for something like this (again, if that's where it heads) called Scred, link below:

    https://www.scred.com/index

  25. #75

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Sorry, keep remembering stuff after I hit the submit button ops:


    I know of programs on the internet that, if there were a central PayPal account or something, people could do and send the money they make to that account. Like, for people with blogs that have been out there for a while, and you don't mind writing reviews of other websites and such, Blogvertise has always been pretty reliable. Of course again, in keeping with Right Vocation, I would only suggest taking assignments that you believe in after having looked at the web service or site or whatever and judged it to be of real and actual benefit to others.

  26. #76
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hi all,

    Forgive me if I missed this, but why is it important to have merchandise that says Treeleaf on it to accomplish the goals you've discussed?

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  27. #77

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Hi all,

    Forgive me if I missed this, but why is it important to have merchandise that says Treeleaf on it to accomplish the goals you've discussed?

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Hello Dosho,

    It's just an idea for how to make this project of our self-sufficient; as I mentioned above: I am more than willing to give what I can to defray any costs, but I'm sure that it won't be enough. I, for one, would like to see a support system for whatever we decide to do, so that it doesn't have to close down due to a slump in donations.

    That having been said, I'm not really comfortable with the idea of merchandise myself. Any other (practical) option would be, I'm sure, better.

    Metta,

    Perry

  28. #78

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Much of my whole stand point on this was to make Treeleaf, and therefore the Teachings of our Way more accessible and available for people in the West. I figured the web address somewhere would assist in that.

  29. #79

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Just to let everyone know, Taigu and I are not ignoring this thread ... just watching as ideas and suggestions percolate and settle, some very workable some perhaps not ...

    As soon as the ideas cook a bit more, we'll suggest a plan ... reviving some old proposals including some new touches ...

    Gassho, Jundo

  30. #80
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Much of my whole stand point on this was to make Treeleaf, and therefore the Teachings of our Way more accessible and available for people in the West. I figured the web address somewhere would assist in that.
    Chris,

    I do think spreading the word about Treeleaf is a good idea, but I just don't see myself handing out beanies or flyers telling people about what we do here in the sangha. If I'm volunteering or donating to a cause I might strike up a conversation or correspondence with some folks who may or may not ask why I chose to become involved. In that circumstance I can see bringing it up, but I'm more inclined towards what Keishin and Rich mentioned and doing so anonymously or with a low profile. I'm not out to convert anyone and any discussion I engage in would be with one person at a time. I also can't think of a way to create some kind of fund that would be free of any hint of mismanagement. It's not that I don't think folks here could do it...I'm sure they could, but I wouldn't want anyone to be put in a situation where they would have to defend certain choices or actions. It just doesn't seem like what we're about here, but I am but one voice here that carries no special weight. And whether or not we come up with something along the lines you've suggested, I'll practice the dharma as I always have...one day at a time...one moment at a time.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  31. #81

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Dosho,

    I understand what you are saying, but there seems to be, still, some misunderstanding about my intentions. I think that making Treeleaf and the Teachings more accessible, more available, and more visible in the West is an extremely important thing. I am not, however, advocating the conversion of the masses. I am not suggesting that we become the Buddhist Jesuit order, nor am I suggesting that we stand on street corners hawking Treeleaf merchandise. What I am saying is that, for many in the West, Buddhism is still thought of as some sort of eccentric Eastern philosophy / religion / thing, and the misconceptions around it might be enough that people would not really bother with looking into it further. If we were doing something that really helped people, and sort of passively but visibly represented Treeleaf while doing it, my point is that you will more than likely have the opportunity to explain why you choose to involve yourself in helping others, and the door will be open for a conversation, not a conversion, on the dharma.

    Again, I ask my fellow sangha mates not to get ahead of themselves and see demons in every shadow. I simply think that we have the ability to do real and lasting good if we work together on something, it needs to be self sufficient as much as possible, it needs to really and truly help, and it should represent the Teachings and the Way, such that an open conversation is much more likely but not forced.

  32. #82

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I would also like to reiterate





    It need not have a prohibitive cost. Publicly sitting and raising awareness is relatively inexpensive.

  33. #83

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    In fact, if I am most honest, I think that a peaceful public sitting would be a good beginning. I would like to again propose that what we do is start a new thread or a new section on Treeleaf or even a new section in the Tea Party (though I don’t know how that works yet, unfortunately I have not checked it out yet, and I am a little slow on the technological side of this, I just got a web camera but I think I need a separate microphone because I can’t hear myself) or whatever. We then have a discussion on what issue we would most like to support, keeping in mind that it should be something that we can all be on board with, something that we can find good resources on, good charities or other support groups that make a difference in the cause we choose, perhaps offer a friendly ear to listen to others that are affected in some way (say we choose to support curing cancer, we could have a special forum or something where we can talk with or just listen and offer support to folks who have lost someone to the illness). We can make a flier with information – ie, This is what cancer is, this is how it affects people world wide, this is how many people die from it or loose a loved one to it, these are the groups and charities that do (in our opinion) the most effective work at easing the suffering caused by cancer, this is how you (the public) can help, contribute, volunteer, make a difference, etc. On the back of the flier, at the bottom, we could simply have a statement that says “Distributed by Treeleaf.org, an online Zen Buddhist sangha” or “Supported by……”, which just might provide someone with enough interest to log on and take a look. Yes they could pick up a book, but we all know the benefit of being able to speak with our teachers and have a guide on the Path, so that we don’t fall into the delusion of believing we have an understanding when we don’t.

    This seems to satisfy all our concerns. We would be active in something as a sangha, together. We could do it in our areas. It is not cost prohibitive. We aren’t running around trying to preach the Gospel According to St. Buddha and convert the masses. We are providing a way for others to find a good, reputable, helpful resource on the Teachings and the Way, with actual teachers to speak to and not just a book on a subject. We aren’t watering down the importance of the religion with chatchkies and free toasters, nor are we beating anyone over the head with our sutra books. And, best of all, it raises awareness in a multitude of areas, over a large geographical footprint, on an issue or issues that cause suffering in this world, and can generate some real and lasting interest in people to help ease that suffering. If people saw us sitting in public, with information for those who want it, I think it might make people say, “Hey, this is something that these folks care enough about to be out here doing this, maybe I can take a look at some of these charities or organizations, and see what I can do to help.”

    Yes this information is probably already out there on the internet, but honestly, the sheer amount of information out there makes it just as difficult as if there were no information out there. Only people already interested in contributing to a cause and helping others are actively looking for this sort of thing. Only people who already have an interest in some aspect of Buddhism and understanding the dharma are actively looking for it. It’s the rest of the people who are spending the vast majority of their time online doing other things, that I would like to put something in front of that would facilitate (not force) them in saying, “Hmmm. Maybe I’ll check this out next time I’m online.”

    Well, that's my thought process here. I'll get off my soap box now, and I'm going to take a seat and see what comes out in the mix.

  34. #84
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hi Chris,

    I believe I do understand what it is you are proposing. What I find hard to understand is why you feel that you need to involve Treeleaf to do the things you mentioned. Just do them. I'm not saying Treeleaf could not be involved in some way, but you are heavy on ideas and low on experience. You seem to be implying that these are things we NEED to be doing or SHOULD be doing, but aren't. For one thing, how in the world do you know that folks aren't doing things like this already? Truth is you don't, but seem to imply otherwise. I think you would be much more effective in your words and could eventually take an important leadership role here if you have actually gone out and done some of the things you propose. You can make up fliers that direct people towards general resources on buddhism and zen, even including Treeleaf as one resource among many.

    There are many ways to spread the dharma and the ideas you have discussed are merely a few of the limitless paths to doing so. We'll see what Jundo and Taigu have in mind and perhaps they are ready to involve Treeleaf more directly in the world along the lines you have suggested. However, until then I'd strongly suggest that you go out and get some experience with these matters before trying to lead others to follow. Then, you'll know much more about the realities of things like public sittings and be a leader who can inspire others.

    Just my $0.02.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  35. #85

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hi Chris,

    I believe I do understand what it is you are proposing. What I find hard to understand is why you feel that you need to involve Treeleaf to do the things you mentioned. Just do them. I'm not saying Treeleaf could not be involved in some way, but you are heavy on ideas and low on experience. You seem to be implying that these are things we NEED to be doing or SHOULD be doing, but aren't. For one thing, how in the world do you know that folks aren't doing things like this already? Truth is you don't, but seem to imply otherwise. I think you would be much more effective in your words and could eventually take an important leadership role here if you have actually gone out and done some of the things you propose. You can make up fliers that direct people towards general resources on buddhism and zen, even including Treeleaf as one resource among many.

    There are many ways to spread the dharma and the ideas you have discussed are merely a few of the limitless paths to doing so. We'll see what Jundo and Taigu have in mind and perhaps they are ready to involve Treeleaf more directly in the world along the lines you have suggested. However, until then I'd strongly suggest that you go out and get some experience with these matters before trying to lead others to follow. Then, you'll know much more about the realities of things like public sittings and be a leader who can inspire others.

    Just my $0.02.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Dosho,

    I hear what you are saying, and would have to agree that my experience here is limited. These are ONLY ideas, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d really be considered ready for a leadership role in Treeleaf by any one’s standards, especially my own! But then, I don’t want to do this to be in a leadership role. I don’t want people to read this thread and think that my take on it is that “You guys need to put your money where your mouth is.” I don’t know that other’s aren’t out there doing what they can, that’s true, but I also thought that this could be something we could do together as a sangha. Strength in numbers, as it were, and something that we could all do as a community of Zen practitioners. As for why Treeleaf should be involved, well, it certainly doesn’t have to be the ONLY resource on Zen, Buddhism, and the Teachings, but this is the sangha I attend most often, with teachers whose methods and teishos speak to me the loudest, so I thought that it would be an obvious choice to include. Personally, I wouldn’t care if someone saw Treeleaf.org on a flier and went there, only to go on to Rinzai, or Sanbo Kyodan, or Korean Son, or Sufism, or Sikhism, or being a more involved Christian, Catholic, Protestant, or whatever. I believe and have faith that the Teachings of the Buddhas present a path to enlightenment, one that speaks to me from teeth to toenails, but then again, it is not the only path either. I do not propose that it be taken as such.

    This is what I was referring to when I spoke of misunderstandings. I didn’t start this thread to be considered for a leadership position in this sangha. You are absolutely correct when you say my experience here is lacking, I agree wholeheartedly, and I don’t know that I want anyone following my poor example.

    But then, that’s not what this was about either. This is about one very simple thing, helping others directly and substantially. “Sentient beings cannot live on merit alone.” That’s why I made the suggestion that we all come together and see what happens. Of course, I defer to the wisdom of our teachers, and to sangha members who’ve obviously been around the block for a while such as yourself and Keishin, Rich, Stephanie, our esteemed Rev.s Fugen, Hans, and Shohei, but my thought process here, in the end is kind of simple.

    One person pulls a rope attached to a heavy weight, and what happens is much what you’d expect from a single person trying to move a heavy weight. When ten, twenty, or thirty people pick up the same rope, or many ropes tied to the same weight……well you get the idea.

    As for your two cents, they are always appreciated and respected.

  36. #86
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Chris,

    Thank you for your responses as they have helped me see where you are coming from in this endeavor. Gassho.

    And just to be clear I wasn't talking about some formal leadership role since, last I knew, neither Jundo or Taigu had given me such powers! I was talking more about the inititives taken up recently by Stephanie and Kelly, but also the informal ways that all of us can stand up and inspire others to follow our example. You seem very passionate about this and I see no reason why you should wait for whatever comes up here for a service project...just go out today and start doing it! I did feel a bit like you were urging people to put their money (or time) where there mouth was...so I'll urge you to do the same. Get out there!

    Deep bows to you and your pratice...you seem to have the passion thing down pat.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  37. #87
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Tsem Tulku has a talk, "Don't embarrass the Buddha!!"

    I would offer, in the same vein, "Don't embarrass the sangha!!"

    I think the public sitting and handing out info on Treeleaf is the very definition of proselytizing... blergh. Not something I really want to be associated with.

    Chris, I think you're a bit intoxicated by idealistic thinking right now. You're looking to be part of something BIG and MAJOR and WORLD-CHANGING.

    Helping others is simple. If you really wanted to just help others for the sake of helping others, there are plenty of things you could have already, quietly done by now, without making a public scene or drawing attention to yourself.

  38. #88

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Tsem Tulku has a talk, "Don't embarrass the Buddha!!"

    I would offer, in the same vein, "Don't embarrass the sangha!!"

    I think the public sitting and handing out info on Treeleaf is the very definition of proselytizing... blergh. Not something I really want to be associated with.

    Chris, I think you're a bit intoxicated by idealistic thinking right now. You're looking to be part of something BIG and MAJOR and WORLD-CHANGING.

    Helping others is simple. If you really wanted to just help others for the sake of helping others, there are plenty of things you could have already, quietly done by now, without making a public scene or drawing attention to yourself.
    There's that word again....... I'm begining to think that some of you would be dangerous with a Scrabble board.

    It could be as you say, but I feel that my motivation in this is more along the lines of wanting to see something that has an affect. I do already do things, usually in such a way that no one knows it was me, but like I said, doing something alone or rather on my own, has a small impact. I might truly help a few people, but there are just so many more out there, I simply feel that I just don't have enough hands......but, as I said, there is the possibility that what you say is correct. I will have to sit with that idea for a while, turn it over and see if my motivation is what I thought it was, and perhaps Jundo and Taigu or the other Rev's might help shed a different perspective.

  39. #89
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    It's not my goal to dissuade you from making efforts toward the greater good... I just detect some of the same elements in your writing/thinking that I've experienced in the past. I'm not sure what exactly motivates the kind of epic quality behind the "do-gooding" some of us folks can get into but I think that often, true compassion is the smallest part. I think it's a response to the frustrating nature of the world, an attempt at control. A desire to believe in something BIG, something to impart meaning. I think there's a sort of hunger behind it...

    I admit I'm somewhat skeptical of the engaged Buddhist "movement." I admire the good works of many Buddhists and agree that real action is more important than sublime thoughts. But there's a holier-than-thou vibe, and a quixotic aspect, that makes a lot of this "Buddhist activism" seem not very grounded in reality or in general.

    The public sitting demonstrations are the most perplexing to me. Does anyone really believe that the sight of someone meditating in public is really going to provoke some sort of revolution in other people? The funniest one I read about was the Interdependence Project in New York organizing public sittings at subway stations. The typical New Yorker commentary on the blog it was posted to was hilarious. No one seemed moved to anything other than laughter and incredulity. Because, really, all the people were doing was making it more difficult for people getting off the train to get to where they were going...

    My mom has a saying, "Charity starts at home." I'll be ready to donate or give something to some anonymous organization or third party and my Mom will say, "Your sister could use that!" It's a good point... I find the biggest positive impact comes from getting involved on the local level. A big part of my recent move is wanting to live in a smaller community where I can really get involved with and feel like part of that community.

    This is why I think that Treeleaf community service efforts should involve the Internet on some level... because the Internet is our community. It's where we're most immediately situated as an organization... and therefore the easiest context/environment in which we can reach out.

  40. #90

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Public sitting may or may not have much effect. But reaching out into individual lives- especially those most in need of help- is living Mahayana.

  41. #91

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    My mom has a saying, "Charity starts at home."



    Steph, as a Buddhist, don't you see that as dualism? "There's 'at home' and there's 'everyone else.' Yes... use your talents and abilities and posessions where you're at... but where you're at is the World, too. My own thinking, regarding charity, is, "put it where it'll do the most good. Trust your practice to show where "the most good" might be. To say, "Where I am, here and now," may be the pragmatic answer... but it may not be the ONLY answer... One must trust that the Dharma touches other consciences differently, don't you think?

  42. #92
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Sure, but there is still something to be said for action that is effective. Not all grandiose social change efforts are ineffective, but a great many are.

    Doing a public meditation sitting for peace in Darfur is an example to me of ineffective action. We may be horrified by the brutality of war, but have we studied the causes of conflict, and are we using our intelligence to address those causes? Is our action connected to the result we seek? I see a lot of (perhaps) well-intentioned social change efforts that are at the same time completely misinformed and naive. Like those one-day boycotts that were so popular a few years ago.

  43. #93

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I'm mostly just lurking on this discussion, but this hit a nerve for me:

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    It's not my goal to dissuade you from making efforts toward the greater good... I just detect some of the same elements in your writing/thinking that I've experienced in the past. I'm not sure what exactly motivates the kind of epic quality behind the "do-gooding" some of us folks can get into but I think that often, true compassion is the smallest part. I think it's a response to the frustrating nature of the world, an attempt at control. A desire to believe in something BIG, something to impart meaning. I think there's a sort of hunger behind it...
    This. I've experienced this sort of thing myself, just a couple years ago. To donate time and money to Amnesty International is one thing-- but no, I had to ADD onto this and thought I had to get the t-shirt, the bumper sticker, other things to advertise the mere existence of Amnesty International and the need for human rights. Sure, it wasn't about "Look what *I* am doing," however, what I did feel was a desire for control-- "The world shouldn't be like this!" I couldn't "just simply" donate time or money. But this was all my own doing.

    Personally I tend to feel a bit uneasy seeing public figures or institutions (religious or otherwise) making a big deal about how THEY are connected to some charity, because then it isn't really about compassion-- it is just about advertising and the charity is a means to an end to that purpose.

    I think this passage from the Bible is worth mentioning here, even if from a different religious tradition:

    "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (from Matthew, chapter 6)

    Individuals will come to the Buddhadharma when they are ready.

    () josh

  44. #94

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Er just a little thought here,
    you talk of having collecting bowls and selling merchandise to raise funds, in UK you have to be a registered charity to do that, is it not similar in US? Remember, Jundo and Taigu never accept money, they ask us to donate to establised charities.

    Just a thought.

    Gassho

    Joe

  45. #95

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Hello friends,

    Now that we have established the currently mentioned ideas are ineffective and perhaps on the egotistical side, perhaps some fresh ideas could be contributed?

    Metta,

    Perry

  46. #96

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Well as to the egotistical aspect, the last thing I'm going to say is this:

    I think that there is just as much delusion behind the idea that doing something on a large scale is done to simply feed the ego. I think, personally, and I could be wrong, that there is just as much of a "desire" to not appear egotistical or grandiose. As to public sitting:

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Very true. I don't think any of us want this to become a "commercial" venture, but I think we would be ok as long as we stay true to the teachings, use any monies for the relief of real suffering in the world, and let our compassion guide us. Like I said too, signs and sitting are free........
    Good morning,

    I recall, a good long while back, a gentleman sitting for four hours on a Friday night in the 'party district' of our town with a placard reading "One Buddhist for World Peace." It really stuck with me. Maybe we could organize an event like this, with each of us sitting in a park or somesuch, as a preliminary exercise?

    Metta,

    Perry
    I think that veering away from public expressions of doing good, because you may believe that because it is public and not private, and therefore must have more to do with riding the high-horse of righteousness than actually doing some active good, is a very sticky and nefarious delusion. Because there is an attachment to the idea of doing good anonymously, and that this form of charity or doing good is more pure and selfless than doing good and being seen, no action is taken. We sit, discuss, dissemble and eventually, because of the delusion of purity of motivation, because of the delusion that public action is ego-stroking or an attempt to control, we end right were we started. Nothing is done, some few of us do what we can in our own area, and the impact is restricted to those whom that few can touch, in the wider world, where we make no distinction between here and there, between family and unknown, between public and private good, suffering continues.

    There is a quote from the Boondock Saints (good movie by the by, though a bit violent and in no way suitable for children, plus the message is good but the methods are waaayyyyy off):

    A priest is standing at the podium and is giving his sermon, and just before the main characters leave he says:

    "Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is one type of evil which we must fear most. The indifference of good men."

    I would replace "indifference" here with "inaction".

  47. #97
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    STOP talking, Chris!
    Just go DO something!!
    DO it with ALL of your heart and NONE of your ego.
    Find some people, here or elsewhere, and have them DO it with you in that ego-less way.
    Whatever happens is karma.
    Whatever you say or don't say matters little compared to your actions,
    And at this point it seems all worthless talk here.
    Such is my worthless view.

  48. #98

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    JUST TO REPEAT THE BELOW ...

    (also ... please keep the conversation civil. it is very common for people to start fighting about how to bring peace to the world. :? )

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Just to let everyone know, Taigu and I are not ignoring this thread ... just watching as ideas and suggestions percolate and settle, some very workable some perhaps not ...

    As soon as the ideas cook a bit more, we'll suggest a plan ... reviving some old proposals including some new touches ...

    Gassho, Jundo

  49. #99

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    (also ... please keep the conversation civil. it is very common for people to start fighting about how to bring peace to the world. )
    where's disastermouse when you need him hee hee :mrgreen:

    gassho
    Greg

  50. #100

    Re: Socially Engaged Buddhism

    I could probably use me some Chet about now.

    Any way you cut it, I'm gonna sit now.

    I don't mean to be offensive, so sorry if I came off as such. I'm going to fall silent for a bit on this and see what the fall out is......

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