dhammafriend wrote:This argument is often used to dissuade others to take purposeful action in there personal lives or social/ political action. Eg: “what do you expect, you can’t change the world, it’s samsara, you need to meditate more.” This seems absurd to me because the argument, assumes that ‘action’ (mental/verbal/physical) is optional. When we really can’t choose whether to act or not but are compelled to anyway through dependant origination. So rather choose meritorious action than the impossible ‘non- action.’
The world can definitely be changed. Every action changes the world in some way. Eventually, with sufficient skill, it should even be possible to bring about the ultimate change which is ending the creation of worlds in the first place. Regarding social and political action, I think a good way to evaluate these things is in terms of AN 8.53
AN 8.53: Gotami Sutta wrote:Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'
Thus, if the social or political involvement leads you to become more passionate, fettered, discontented with the actions of others, burdensome to others in your quest, then it is not in line with the Dhamma. If the social or political involvement leads to dispassion, contentment regardless of the actions taken by others, and so forth then it is in line with the Dhamma. Problems arise when the social or political action leads to being highly impassioned, trying to control or manipulate the actions of others, and being discontent with the realities of things outside of your control. When actions are taken to improve the situation dispassionately, accepting the individual choices made by others, and remaining content with the nature of things that can not be controlled then there doesn't seem to be any conflict with the Dhamma.
Regarding 'non-action' as a result of misinterpreting the Dhamma, I'm reminded of a story about Ajaan Chah in Beyond All Directions
by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Another story deals with Ajaan Chah surveying the damage in his monastery after a storm, discovering that one of the huts had half its roof blown off by the wind. He asked the monk living in the hut, "Why aren't you fixing the roof?" The monk replied, "I'm practicing equanimity, sleeping in the half of the hut that's still sheltered." Ajaan Chah said, "That's the equanimity of a water buffalo. Fix the roof."
So when you're looking at the practice, you have to look at it from many sides. In Ajaan Chah's case, he was pointing out the need to balance contentment with the duty of persistently caring for the fruits of other people's generosity.