Reflections on Bodhisattva Activism

Reflections on Bodhisattva Activism

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....

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Being OneSelf, Becoming One World: Fraternizing with the Enemy

Being OneSelf, Becoming One World: Fraternizing with the Enemy

On Christmas Eve in 1914, a remarkable event occurred in the trenches along the Western Front.  Soldiers fighting the First World War ceased firing for a time, and began to sing.   What made this truly remarkable was not the cease fire or the singing or even the holiday greetings that ensued, but that the soldiers singing and greeting one another were from opposing armies. 

In the spirit of the holiday, thousands of German, British, French, and Belgian soldiers chose to venture across the front lines bearing gifts and goodwill instead of firearms, beginning a series of unofficial ceasefires that would later come to be known as the “Christmas Truce.”  Meeting between the trenches in what was designated “No man’s land,” these men congregated and conversed, sang songs, played games, shared food and souvenirs, and even buried their dead together in a courageous conspiracy of peace amidst war, despite clear orders from their high commands against fraternizing with the enemy.  Not surprisingly, in the many months to follow, having shared fellowship amidst hardship, many of these soldiers continued to defy the expectations of their commanding officers, adopting a live-and-let-live attitude, and aligning their patriotism with a greater humanity...

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The End of the World As We Know It

The End of the World As We Know It

Terrorism. War. Weapons of mass destruction. Climate change. Forest degradation. Soil erosion. Aquifer depletion. Bee colony collapse. Affluenza. Consumer debt. Globalization. Market volatility. Economic crisis. If one believes the news these days, it seems that we live in an increasingly morally and financially bankrupt society in which our discourse encourages incivility, our politics endorses dishonesty, our religions shelter immorality, our spirituality fosters grandiosity, our media sponsors gratuity, our education teaches mediocrity, our industry rewards irresponsibility, our healthcare enables apathy, our entertainment promotes idolatry, our food feeds obesity, and our economy supports insolvency. 

Indeed, intelligent people are left to wonder how on earth human beings could so knowingly, willingly, and skillfully participate in our own self-destruction. 

Yet, in many ways, this is old news...

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Pondering the Tribal Revival

Pondering the Tribal Revival

Tribe.  In recent years, I’ve met a growing number of modern-day tribe enthusiasts at business meetings, dinner parties, and beyond.  There are tribe-seekers who express their deep longing to belong to a group of like-minded people.  Others adopt the word to claim and affirm their belonging in their group’s particular version of “us.”  Business leaders extol the virtues of cultivating tribes—mass movements around brands that amplify meaningful connections between groups and ideas.  Fashion-forward friends tell me that tribal trends even hit the runway in 2011 (my knowledge of fashion is so last year) and continue to inspire Spring 2012.

There's no doubt that the savvy marketing guru, Seth Godin, and the popular reality TV show, Survivor, have heavily influenced the current tribe vibe in American culture, although I suspect that globalization is the underlying culprit in this trend toward tribal identification and cultivation.  As collective identities get stretched and homogenized beyond traditional boundaries and comfortable recognition, it makes sense that people would seek to redefine their identities and their sense of belonging by assuming and adapting the cultural accouterments of here, there, and everywhere...

 

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