Reflections on Bodhisattva Activism

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that’s wisdom. When I look outside and see that I am everything, that’s love. Between these two, my life turns.
— Nisargadatta

In a recent article, The New Bodhisattva, David Loy offers a beautiful reflection on Bodhisattva activism as an approach for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike:

Bodhisattva activism has some distinctive characteristics. Buddhism emphasizes interdependence ("we're all in this together") and delusion (rather than evil). This implies not only nonviolence (violence is usually self-defeating anyway), but a politics based on love (more nondual) rather than reactive anger (which separates them from us).

The basic problem in our society is not rich and powerful bad people, but institutionalized structures of collective greed, aggression and delusion. The bodhisattva's pragmatism and non-dogmatism can help to cut through the ideological quarrels that have weakened so many progressive groups. And Buddhism's emphasis on skillful means cultivates the creative imagination, a necessary attribute if we are to construct a healthier way of living together on this earth, and work out a way to get there.

Yet those attributes do not get at the most important contribution of the bodhisattva in these difficult times, when we often feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge and are tempted to despair. The bodhisattva's response? To quote the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: "The difficult we do immediately. The impossible will take a little longer." According to the classical formulation,the bodhisattva takes a vow to help liberate all living beings. Someone who has volunteered for such an unachievable task is not going to be intimidated by present crises, no matter how hopeless they may appear. That is because the bodhisattva practices on both levels -- inner and outer -- which enables one to engage in goal-directed behavior without attachment to results.

This seems like good Karma Yoga too.  Read the whole article for more inspiration.