Read the full interview here“During my early years as a monk, I hardly paid any attention to social issues. My focus was almost entirely on my Dharma studies and personal spiritual development. In recent years, however, I came to feel increasingly a sense of responsibility for the fate of the world. The conviction came to me that a predominantly personal and private approach to spiritual development is sadly inadequate as a response to the crushing misery that afflicts billions of ordinary nameless people around the world. Perhaps it was through my practice of the meditations on loving-kindness and compassion that I felt “a call of conscience,” a sense that our Buddhist practice should enable us to share the sufferings of those weighed down by grinding poverty, compelled by an unjust system to endure constant hunger, fear, and the threat of disabling illnesses without adequate medical services. As this conviction gained momentum in my mind, and I met people with similar sentiments, this led to the creation of Buddhist Global Relief in mid-2008.”
I read a book by another western born monk, who is doing something similar to Bhikkhu Bodhi. The Venerable Dhammika is still in robes, but intentionally loosely tied to any Theravada order. He wrote a fascinating book about the state of Asian Theravada called
“THE BROKEN BUDDHA:
Critical Reflections on Theravada and a Plea for a New Buddhism”
One of Venerable Dhammika’s points was that he felt Asian Theravada could benefit from a more philanthropic attitude. He had a number of examples of the emphasis on merit making for a better future life driving people to glut monks with more things than they could ever use while ignoring serious poverty.