Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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cooran
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by cooran » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:56 am

Hello all,

This previous thread may have some relevance:

Go Forth, O Bhikkhus!

Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter." ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=10678

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

chownah
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by chownah » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:21 am

I may be misunderstanding but are some people here saying that monks should be activists?
chownah

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retrofuturist
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:16 am

Greetings Chownah,

Not me... to steal something I wrote elsewhere...
When people in this topic speak in favour of monks making the realisation of the Buddha Dhamma their #1 priority, it is not through lack of concern, or lack of empathy for those who are suffering. It is not to diminish the role that humanitarian agencies play, nor the roles of volunteers who work hard and well to make the world a better place. It is an acknowledgement and recognition that the Sangha of the Buddha has an important role - in the context of dukkha and nirodha, and when you conceive it, you see it is more important than the role played by the chairman or CIO of any aid organisation in the world. That role is to master the Buddha's teachings, to embody the teachings, and to transmit the teachings to mankind.... so that whatever political / humanitarian / social / economic situation may (and will) be ebbing and flowing at any point in time, mankind (or those who lend their ears to listen) will have the tools to cope with whatever the world throws at it.
AN 10.69 wrote:“Then the Blessed One, emerging from his seclusion in the late afternoon, went to the meeting hall and, on arrival, sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: “For what topic of conversation are you gathered together here? In the midst of what topic of conversation have you been interrupted?”

“Just now, lord, after the meal, on returning from our alms round, we gathered at the meeting hall and got engaged in many kinds of bestial topics of conversation: conversation about kings, robbers, & ministers of state; armies, alarms, & battles; food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women & heroes; the gossip of the street & the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.”

“It isn’t right, monks, that sons of good families, on having gone forth out of faith from home to the homeless life, should get engaged in such topics of conversation, i.e., conversation about kings, robbers, & ministers of state… talk of whether things exist or not.

“There are these ten topics of [proper] conversation. Which ten? Talk on modesty, contentment, seclusion, non-entanglement, arousing persistence, virtue, concentration, discernment, release, and the knowledge & vision of release. These are the ten topics of conversation. If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun & moon, so mighty, so powerful — to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.”
Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Kim OHara
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:13 am

chownah wrote:I may be misunderstanding but are some people here saying that monks should be activists?
chownah
Not me, although I would hope that monks showed at least as much compassion towards neighbours in distress as sincere lay followers do.

:namaste:
Kim

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Ben
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Ben » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:47 am

Kim OHara wrote:
chownah wrote:I may be misunderstanding but are some people here saying that monks should be activists?
chownah
Not me, although I would hope that monks showed at least as much compassion towards neighbours in distress as sincere lay followers do.

:namaste:
Kim
Some do, Kim.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Kim OHara
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:59 am

Ben wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:
chownah wrote:I may be misunderstanding but are some people here saying that monks should be activists?
chownah
Not me, although I would hope that monks showed at least as much compassion towards neighbours in distress as sincere lay followers do.

:namaste:
Kim
Some do, Kim.
I know, Ben, and I hope that they are in the great majority. I was merely trying to say that I wasn't "saying that monks should be activists" but neither would I consider that the opposite extreme - retreat, isolation, complete disengagement from the world - could be good practice.

:namaste:
Kim

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SDC
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by SDC » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:10 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:The cave dwelling monk might reach Nibbana a bit faster than the engaged practitioner, but I feel the Metta Sutta is a call to do more than live the not-self focused contemplative life. Buddhist Global Relief volunteers might delay their eventual release, but what a good cause by which to spend this life.
With all do respect, BuddhaSoup, I sense a level of disdain for nibbana in your post. I'm curious about this as it is the part of the reason I started this thread.

How can the idea of selfishness have any place when discussing those that are actually moving towards awakening?

Is it possible that it is one's current level of self-centered thinking that makes it difficult to imagine pursuing nibbana? Since the self is still a major aspect of any imaginings of future experience?

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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Anagarika » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:49 am

SDC wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:The cave dwelling monk might reach Nibbana a bit faster than the engaged practitioner, but I feel the Metta Sutta is a call to do more than live the not-self focused contemplative life. Buddhist Global Relief volunteers might delay their eventual release, but what a good cause by which to spend this life.
With all do respect, BuddhaSoup, I sense a level of disdain for nibbana in your post. I'm curious about this as it is the part of the reason I started this thread.

How can the idea of selfishness have any place when discussing those that are actually moving towards awakening?

Is it possible that it is one's current level of self-centered thinking that makes it difficult to imagine pursuing nibbana? Since the self is still a major aspect of any imaginings of future experience?
And with all due respect, I have no disdain at all for the path toward release and awakening. I'm really just echoing Bhikkhu Bodhi's call for a more engaged Theravada. I admire his contemplative life, his history in Asia as a renunciate monk, and his work as an exemplary translator and scholar of Pali. I have his books translating the Suttas. I suppose if he can find the time to form Buddhist Global Relief, start a movement toward global food redistribution programs and anti-poverty programs around the world, I can get off my butt now and then and do something beyond meditation and study that benefits those in need in my community.

Some practitioners are 'self'-focused, and I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. I just feel there are many ways to express the Buddhadhamma, and Bhikkhu Bodhi has set a terrific example of engaged practice.

chownah
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:45 am

BuddhaSoup,
Seems to me that to be a renunciate monk would rule out or at least minimilize social engagement. Isn't renunciation the giving up of engagement in worldly matters?
chownah

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Anagarika
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Anagarika » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:54 am

chownah wrote:BuddhaSoup,
Seems to me that to be a renunciate monk would rule out or at least minimilize social engagement. Isn't renunciation the giving up of engagement in worldly matters?
chownah
I mentioned him in the context of his life in Sri Lanka. But, please see this Bhikkhu Bodhi article which I feel illuminates the issue of renunciation v. compassion:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_08.html

"In our attempt to follow the Dhamma, one or the other of these twin cardinal virtues will have to be given prominence, depending on our temperament and circumstances. However, for monk and householder alike, success in developing the path requires that both receive due attention and that deficiencies in either gradually be remedied. Over time we will find that the two, though tending in different directions, eventually are mutually reinforcing. Compassion impels us toward greater renunciation, as we see how our own greed and attachment make us a danger to others. And renunciation impels us toward greater compassion, since the relinquishing of craving enables us to exchange the narrow perspectives of the ego for the wider perspectives of a mind of boundless sympathy. Held together in this mutually strengthening tension, renunciation and compassion contribute to the wholesome balance of the Buddhist path and to the completeness of its final fruit."

I am glad for the questions above, which caused me to research a bit into this issue. The article above hits the nail on the head.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:13 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:
chownah wrote:BuddhaSoup,
Seems to me that to be a renunciate monk would rule out or at least minimilize social engagement. Isn't renunciation the giving up of engagement in worldly matters?
chownah
I mentioned him in the context of his life in Sri Lanka. But, please see this Bhikkhu Bodhi article which I feel illuminates the issue of renunciation v. compassion:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_08.html

"In our attempt to follow the Dhamma, one or the other of these twin cardinal virtues will have to be given prominence, depending on our temperament and circumstances. However, for monk and householder alike, success in developing the path requires that both receive due attention and that deficiencies in either gradually be remedied. Over time we will find that the two, though tending in different directions, eventually are mutually reinforcing. Compassion impels us toward greater renunciation, as we see how our own greed and attachment make us a danger to others. And renunciation impels us toward greater compassion, since the relinquishing of craving enables us to exchange the narrow perspectives of the ego for the wider perspectives of a mind of boundless sympathy. Held together in this mutually strengthening tension, renunciation and compassion contribute to the wholesome balance of the Buddhist path and to the completeness of its final fruit."

I am glad for the questions above, which caused me to research a bit into this issue. The article above hits the nail on the head.
:goodpost:

Chownah,
You asked, "isn't renunciation the giving up of engagement in worldly matters"
Can I suggest a slightly different wording that I think may be more accurate?
"Renunciation is the giving up of attachment to worldly matters."

:thinking:
Kim

chownah
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:11 am

Kim OHara,
I think you are wrong and I am right.......not surprisingly I guess. I wonder if there are any sutta references which could help me see what the Buddha said about this.
chownah

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cooran
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by cooran » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:33 am

Hello all,

Nekkhamma - Renunciation
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... #nekkhamma

Perhaps there is an answer here.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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SDC
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by SDC » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:27 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:And with all due respect, I have no disdain at all for the path toward release and awakening. I'm really just echoing Bhikkhu Bodhi's call for a more engaged Theravada. I admire his contemplative life, his history in Asia as a renunciate monk, and his work as an exemplary translator and scholar of Pali. I have his books translating the Suttas. I suppose if he can find the time to form Buddhist Global Relief, start a movement toward global food redistribution programs and anti-poverty programs around the world, I can get off my butt now and then and do something beyond meditation and study that benefits those in need in my community.

Some practitioners are 'self'-focused, and I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. I just feel there are many ways to express the Buddhadhamma, and Bhikkhu Bodhi has set a terrific example of engaged practice.
Yes, there are many ways to use the dhamma, and our goals determine will how we use it.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Reasonable involvement in "World Issues"

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:30 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Nekkhamma - Renunciation
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... #nekkhamma

Perhaps there is an answer here.

With metta,
Chris
Thanks, Chris.
I haven't got time to read them all now so I went straight to the one with the most relevant title - Relationship [of renunciation] to compassion: "The Balanced Way" (Bodhi).
Given what we know about his own life-choices and what you people now know about my views, you won't be surprised to learn that I liked it very much and agreed all the way.
:smile:
:reading:
Kim

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