Activism

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Activism

Postby paxamo » Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:06 pm

I am wondering, is activism very common among Buddhists? For example: civil rights activism, helping to relieve poverty (not having enough money to live, as opposed to living the simple life), slowing down corporations who seem to be becoming too powerful for the world's good, and working towards environmental protection.

Thank you,
Last edited by paxamo on Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice" - Confucius
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Re: Activism

Postby Aloka » Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:44 pm

Hi Paxamo,

I think many Buddhists do whatever they can in relation to important issues such as the environment, helping the poor, working for equal rights etc etc - but I think "fighting" probably isn't a word I'd use personally. For me 'fighting' implies anger and conflict, and its good to try to avoid acting out of anger, if that's possible.

With metta,

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Re: Activism

Postby paxamo » Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:22 pm

Thank you Metta for the advice,

I will watch my word usage more carefully. I did not use the word "fighting" out of anger. I just use it in general to describe working towards something with a passion. I will change it.

-Paxamo
"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice" - Confucius
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Re: Activism

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:06 pm

Greetings Paxamo,

paxamo wrote:I will watch my word usage more carefully. I did not use the word "fighting" out of anger. I just use it in general to describe working towards something with a passion.


In terms of renunciation, passion is no better than fighting.

I suspect if you want a clear answer to this question, it may require a little refinement in the application of concepts.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Activism

Postby pink_trike » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:23 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Paxamo,

paxamo wrote:I will watch my word usage more carefully. I did not use the word "fighting" out of anger. I just use it in general to describe working towards something with a passion.


In terms of renunciation, passion is no better than fighting.

Perhaps he meant "compassion"...the passions in the service of the common good. Com.passion
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Activism

Postby zavk » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:52 am

Hi Paxamo

Have tried Googling 'engaged Buddhism'? That should link you up to a few resources.
With metta,
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Re: Activism

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:23 am

Hi Paxamo

Service or 'selfless service' is a component of my own practice. I think its absolutely essential to not only assist others with their practice but also extend a helping hand, when and where possible, to help alleviate the causes of gross suffering in the world.

In the past I have gotten involved in raising money and profile for medical research and medical charities. At the moment, I am raising money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Beyondblue Australian Depression Initiative via the 'Movember' campaign: www.au.movember.com or follow the link in my signature.
kind regards

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Re: Activism

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:43 am

Greetings,

pink_trike wrote:Perhaps he meant "compassion"...the passions in the service of the common good. Com.passion


The fact these two words (passion and compassion) possess the same derivation in English only goes to show how far off the mark they are as accurate renderings of their Pali equivalents.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Activism

Postby pink_trike » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

pink_trike wrote:Perhaps he meant "compassion"...the passions in the service of the common good. Com.passion


The fact these two words (passion and compassion) possess the same derivation in English only goes to show how far off the mark they are as accurate renderings of their Pali equivalents.

Metta,
Retro. :)

You may be right (though I'd like to hear more about why you think this), but I was suggesting that this might be what he meant.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Activism

Postby paxamo » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:16 am

Hello,

I define passion as a strong feeling or emotion. Passionate is the trait of being intensely emotional. It does not have a positive or negative denotation, and in my experience not a positive or negative connotation either. It happens to be my case though, that I want to help people in this world, and protect our environment, and alleviate civil rights, with compassion and love. I will admit that I have just started studying Buddhism and my heart is filled with hatred once in a while, but these were certainly not the feelings that I had when talking about helping the world.

Anyway, I am glad to hear that Buddhists are quite active in alleviating suffering in the world!

-Paxamo
"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice" - Confucius
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Re: Activism

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:31 am

Hi paxamo,
paxamo wrote: I want to help people in this world, and protect our environment, and alleviate civil rights, with compassion and love ...

This is a worthy aspiration.

From a Buddhist perspective, it is important to be clear about what compassion is. The Buddha described four "Divine Abidings":
1. Metta (Loving-kindness)
2. Karuna (Compassion)
3. Mudita (Joy with others)
4. Upekkha (Equanimity)

It is helpful to understand what they are, and what they are not. There are some details in the following links, but the key point is that they are easily confused with their "near enemies", states that are somewhat similar, but not the real thing. Perhaps most obviously, Equanimity is not indifference.
http://www.brahmaviharas.org/article-Th ... iharas.htm
Pity is the near enemy to compassion for it has a hidden quality of aversion. The delusion of pity comes, in part, from the belief that if we hold ourselves as separate that we are protecting ourselves in some way. Karuna dissolves the boundaries divide our hearts in two. With growing compassion we are less apt to look away - to withdraw our attention - to abandon or be abandoned.

http://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/divabid.html
Compassion is a state that is very often misunderstood. There is nothing mawkish or sentimental about true compassion. It is the earnest wish that all beings be freed from their suffering. It can be thought of as an active love, whereas loving-kindness is a passive form. If it is tinged by sadness or pity then it isn't pure. The near enemy is grief and the far enemy is cruelty, or the wish to inflict harm.

See also: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el006.html

Metta
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Re: Activism

Postby paxamo » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:57 am

Mike, thanks for giving me a bit of a path to follow! It's tough to figure out what to study when you are just starting off! I will read through the articles when I have more time.

With much appreciation,

Paxamo
"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice" - Confucius
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Re: Activism

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:58 am

Greetings Pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:You may be right (though I'd like to hear more about why you think this), but I was suggesting that this might be what he meant.


As for the more about why I think this, the quotes/links above provided by Mike cover this well. Passion is the 'burning', and the Buddha never got burned by karuna.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Activism

Postby pink_trike » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:21 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:You may be right (though I'd like to hear more about why you think this), but I was suggesting that this might be what he meant.


As for the more about why I think this, the quotes/links above provided by Mike cover this well. Passion is the 'burning', and the Buddha never got burned by karuna.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Ah, I see. The "passions" are considered a bit more useful in the other traditions, after they are transformed into their beneficial aspect or left to arise in their naturally occurring non-perverted pure state. :smile:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Activism

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:44 am

Greetings Pink,

pink_trike wrote:Ah, I see. The "passions" are considered a bit more useful in the other traditions, after they are transformed into their beneficial aspect or left to arise in their naturally occurring non-perverted pure state. :smile:


If there is "transformation" in Theravada, it would the transformation of these passions to the brahma-vihara of upekkha (equanimity).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Activism

Postby Clueless Git » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:39 am

paxamo wrote:I am wondering, is activism very common among Buddhists? For example: civil rights activism, helping to relieve poverty (not having enough money to live, as opposed to living the simple life), slowing down corporations who seem to be becoming too powerful for the world's good, and working towards environmental protection.

Thank you,

'Lo Paxamo :)

I read that Thich Nat Hanh and some of his monks once took part in an anti vietnam war peace march. From memory; TNH wrote that he was disturbed by the .. errr .. non peacefullness of the peace marchers - all rushing along shouting angrily, that kinda stuff ...

Story went that he and his monks began slow mindfull walking in silence amongst the demonstrators and that as people noticed they calmed down and took to slow and peacefull walking too.

Opinions may vary but I think if there is a moral to the story it is that is not wrong for buddhists to be activists so long as they are mindfull that they should only be active in a very buddhist way.
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Re: Activism

Postby poto » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:35 am

I think it's important to make a distinction between political activism and compassionate activism. I am fully in favor of compassionate actions, like volunteering at hospices, and things where I know I am helping people.

I worry that people promoting political causes may not always be doing the right thing. This can be especially troublesome on issues where it's not clear who is right and who is wrong. While many activists may have good intentions, sometimes the best intentions can still result in wrong or harmful actions.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis
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