Our friend Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is interviewed in the latest issue of Spirituality & Health. It’s short, but good. Here’s a snippet:
You started an organization to fight world hunger, you write about the devastating consequences of climate change, and you marched with the Occupy Wall Street movement. When did you decide that, in addition to your spiritual work as a Buddhist monk and translator of ancient texts, you needed to be an activist?
Before I became a monk, back in the late 1960s I had a strong passion for social and economic justice, and used to participate in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. As I became involved with Buddhism, I felt I had to focus inwardly on my spiritual growth. This led me to the monastic path in 1972. In time, however, perhaps starting in the early 1990s, my personal spiritual progress seemed to demand that I turn my attention outward to the state of the world. As I witnessed persisting militarism, the widening gulf between the rich and the poor, and, more recently, the impact of climate change, I felt a call to action. I could only heed this call after I returned to the U.S. in 2002, after 20 years in Asia. I am still more a theorist than an activist, but I try to respond to the voice of conscience telling me that true compassion must be expressed in socially transformative action.