Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Engaged Buddhism

Reading Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth -- The Buddha's Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (Sacred Activism) feels somehow important. Thanissara is articulating an engaged Buddhism that makes sense to me. I need things articulated, it's hard to articulate everything for yourself, we really stand up on our civilization that supports us.

She presents an alternate imagining of the Buddha's life to The Buddha's Wife: The Path of Awakening Together, where the Buddha consults with his wife before he goes off. She imagines that to be more compassionate, they were partners.

She focuses on how there is a strand of Buddhism with leads to quietism and withdrawal from the world, and that that might have worked in the past, but today our world is in danger. Samsara is burning. Why get involved in the illusionary world? But Nirvana is the same world. We are living in climate change, and we can see a kind of momentum that is suicidal. We need to consciously change that momentum together.

Is it inevitable that I drive to work, instead of take mass transit or walk or bike? I suddenly thought about the carbon imprint of my next vacation. My partner has been into the local food movement, locavore for quite a while, but we still shop in our plush supermarkets where everything is always in season.

I like the way Thanissara connects colonialism, slavery, and all the various forms of exploitation are part of the equation as we scramble at the crumbs of our dying earth. The book I'm dying to read after reading interesting reviews is Between the World and Me. There is such a dismissal of race in this society by the dominant culture, that is utterly startling.

I think of Danny Fisher, who blogs and writes and tweets about various global issues, I'm sure there are other blogsattvas, but he's one I've read a fair amount of.

Joanne Macy's Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems (Suny Series, Buddhist Studies) was an empowering revelation. I might feel puny in this world, but I'm also not without ability to impact others.

I grew up with a connection to the natural world. I was on my bike and in trees from an early age. I live in NYC, and feel a bit alienated from nature, but at least I'm not like some of my relatives building a house where there was none, further decreasing unsettled land. I think one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do is move to the city, use mass transit, don't have a single family dwelling. And yet paradoxically that causes my children not to be as connected to nature as I was. There is hope for them yet, hopefully the hikes and camping and explorations of the world give them a sense of the world and it's complex and interlocking systems that are currently in great peril. They seem so smart and capable, full of potential.

Watching Jupiter Ascending, there are aliens that harvest earth's energy, because life is about consumption. There are larger universe problems than earthlings exploiting the earth. It's hubris to think we're alone in the universe.

Anyway, I read a lot of books at once, and I've just started Time To Stand Up, but I am finding it quite interesting and recommend it based on what I've read so far.

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