Daniel Clarkson Fisher offers a “People’s Buddhism” – and B.R. Ambedkar revival

In an excellent article at Political Animal Magazine, Daniel Clarkson Fisher calls for a renewed investigation into the Buddhist liberation theology of the Indian reformer, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. In the article, Fisher points out the rise in progressive social movements in recent years, from Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street to the recent boosts to organizations like the ACLU and the Democratic Socialists of America.Given this, and the rising attention on the religious left, Fisher … [Read more...]

A history of Buddhist Social Engagement

Not long ago, a friend and colleague of mine posted a query in a Buddhist academic group: what sutras or other suitably ancient Buddhist writings could one read today as appealing to something like the social activism we see in America now?The ensuing discussion was lively and, for some perhaps, disappointing. In short, there are none. No pre-modern Buddhist writing can be found that will exhort people to go to the streets, to directly help the poor, or work to overcome systemic … [Read more...]

On Kant, Contempt, and our Buddhist path(s) forward

Karen Stohr, associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University and senior research scholar at Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics, wrote a thoughtful piece for the NYTimes this week titled, "Our New Age of Contempt." Her article concludes: Privately expressed contempt may be cathartic. Publicly expressed contempt, however, is perilous. As Kant recognized, it threatens the foundations of our political community by denying the central moral idea on which that community is based — tha … [Read more...]

Buddhists in a Democracy: Be Political, but not Partisan

This year's election and the impending inauguration of Donald Trump have drawn out some heated discussions about the role Buddhism ought to be playing in our political system. Two articles that come to the forefront, in part for espousing different views on the topic, are Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler's article Buddhism is Apolitical? (Or, Stop Trying to Wiggle Out of the Damn Koan!), updated at Lion's Roar as Isn’t Buddhism Supposed to Be Apolitical? and Brad Warner's Should Plumbing Be Politic … [Read more...]

Buddhist Ethics Today – or can we all be a little more enlightened?

Seth Zuiho Segall has a lengthy and thoughtful piece in the latest Tricycle Magazine, titled, "A More Enlightened Way of Being." The topic is ethics, specifically Buddhist ethics in the contemporary world.Segall's writing is wide-reaching and wonderfully fluid. He mentions Aristotle, Kant, Hume, Kierkegaard, and other luminaries of the West. He also surveys the long history of Buddhism and its developments and encounters with Bon (Tibet), Daoism (China) and Kami worship … [Read more...]

Facing Election Results with Buddhist Practices of Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity

Well, we certainly do live in interesting times, don't we? One truth that has been exposed by the recent election is the chasm that has opened up in the American electorate. Some hoped that after Nov 8 that divide would be closed and we could go back to life as usual. That hasn't happened. I wrote just before the election on this topic, but was reminded of it today so I'll send it out again, minus the pre-election thoughts. Now the vote is behind us. Political leadership is in transition. We … [Read more...]

60 Years of the Indian Buddhist Revival

A guest post by David Viradhamma Creighton On October 11, 1956 the leader of India’s “untouchable” community stood before 400,000 of his followers in the city of Nagpur and led them in a mass conversion to Buddhism.  Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar had tried for decades to reform Indian society and end caste discrimination using legal and political tools, but he had come to the conclusion that the only hope for his oppressed people was to embrace a religion that denied caste and celebrated personal freedom … [Read more...]

The Dalai Lama’s Doctor – Buddhist advice on Forgiveness

Barry Kerzin is an extraordinary person. A medical doctor, a philosopher, and a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He has been featured on PBS advocating for more compassion in medicine and has given two TED talks, one on happiness and the other on compassion and anger management. Today he writes on forgiveness: At one level, forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Revenge harms the other person. It is a form of violence and usually leads to counter-violence – so the problem never goes … [Read more...]