SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT

Creating a culture of awakening


In western countries, many of those who practice meditation view Buddhism as a way to achieve greater freedom from their suffering. As practitioners who hold a secular approach, however, we also recognize the centrality of contributing to what Stephen Batchelor calls a ‘culture of awakening’, a world in which all beings can flourish.


On this page you will find recommended reading to introduce and explore the subject, as well as articles written by a number of leading writers that will help you to dig a little deeper.

RECOMENDED READING

Mike Slott, Katya de Kadt, and Karsten Struhl offer an account of the core tasks and beliefs for radically engaged Buddhists who seek not just individual transformation but the dismantling of social, economic, and political systems which cause harm and suffering to all beings.

We need both the Buddha’s insights on the human condition and a non-deterministic, humanistic Marxism to create a ‘culture of awakening’ and just society in which all human beings have the opportunity to flourish. As each perspective has strengths and weaknesses, we need to bring these perspectives together in a complementary, mutually enriching way.

Acknowledging the importance of social engagement is a big step for many Buddhists, since we have usually been taught to focus on what is happening in our own minds. On the other side, those committed to social action tend to suffer from frustration, anger, and burnout. The engaged bodhisattva path provides what each needs because it involves a double practice, inner and outer, each reinforcing the other.

According to Winton Higgins, the foundation of Buddhists’ political engagement is the overarching ethical commitment to care, the responsibility to be ‘engaged as a moral agent in what is going on in one’s own life’.

Mike Slott explains why secular Buddhists should be socially engaged, from service work with individuals to participation in radical political movements.

Receive Our Newsletter

* indicates required