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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
SPRING 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 53 BUDDHADHARMA: Do all varieties of Buddhism inevitably include some element of political engagement because of one’s concern for the liberation of all beings? DAVID LOY: The Buddha emphasized that all he really taught was dukkha and how to end it. But given the political context he lived in, the kinds of social and political dukkha that he could address were limited. The Buddhist sangha had to come to some accommodation with the state. As far as I know none of those states in Asia were democratic, but we’re in a differ- ent situation now. The Western emphasis on social justice has helped us become more aware of the opportunities not only for socially engaged Buddhism, but politically engaged Bud- dhism. As we deepen our awakening, we realize that our own dukkha can’t be distinguished from the dukkha of others. I’m reminded of a wonderful quotation from Nisargadatta Maha- raj: “When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that’s wis- dom. When I look outside and see that I am everything, that’s love. Between these two, my life turns.” As we overcome our delusive sense of a separate self, we can no longer pursue our own well-being with indifference to the well-being of others. JOAN SUTHERLAND: The results of practice can lead to political engagement. Over time, there tends to be a deepening of grati- tude for the fact of existence, for what we speak of as inter- permeation, which is often referred to as interconnectedness; I use the word interpermeation because it gives a stronger sense of the way we affect one another. That gratitude is not an emotion but a way of being, fundamentally, and its expression quite often occurs as generosity. The generosity then looks for ways to be helpful. That seems to be quite a natural, organic development with long-term practice. MUSHIM IKEDA: Human interactions are inevitably political, so except in the anomalous case of people living totally off the grid, they’re going to have some level of political engagement. Even with just one other human being, political dynamics are at work because people have different needs and different ways of strategizing to fulfill those needs. The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist practice of reciting Namu Amida Butsu [Sanskrit: Namo Amitabha Buddha], taking refuge in Amitabha, has PHOTO KELLY DELAY