Sunday, September 4, 2011

Buddhism Calls for Individual AND Social/Political Transformation

Quotes from Zen Buddhist David Loy: "In contemporary terms, the sense of self is a psychosocial construct: psychological because it is a result of mental conditioning, and social because it develops in relation to others. Since “my” sense of self is composed of habitual ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, letting go of those mental habits (through a practice such as meditation) is like peeling the layers of an onion. Through practice, one eventually realizes directly the emptiness—the lack of self—at one’s core. Awakening is recognizing that awareness is nondual: because “I” am not inside, the rest of the world is not “outside.”

In the context of social ethics, this recognition implies that without individual transformation, social transformations are bound to be impaired. Why have so many revolutions and reform movements ended up replacing one gang of thugs with another? Because, many Buddhists will say, if we do not address our own greed, ill will, and delusion (the three unwholesome motivations, also known as the “three poisons”), our efforts to challenge them in their collective forms are likely to be useless—or worse. Certainly history provides us with many examples of tyrannical leaders emerging from movements whose initial goals were largely just."

These quotes are from Loy's Tricycle Magazine article -http://www.tricycle.com/feature/why-buddhism-needs-west - that focuses on why Buddhism needs the West and the West needs Buddhism. Relating them to my previous blog ("Conditioned vs Unconditioned or Fullness vs Emptiness"), experiencing unconditioned nonduality and the illusion of a separate self (individual transformation) generates the wisdom, compassion, and desire (Boddhisattva Vow) to end the suffering that results from unenlightened historical and contemporary social and political structures. The blog before that ("How Does Observing the Breath Lead to Peace?") explains how the practice of meditation leads to individual transformation.

Conclusion: Let's encourage our social, business, and political leaders to meditate. Until they are transformed and transcend greed, ill-will, and delusion, corporations and governments are not likely to undergo any enduring changes. I highly recommend clicking on the reference above to Loy's excellent online article.

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