While meditation retreats are extremely valuable, they are limited in some important respects. We need to develop more inclusive forms of intensive practice which help us cultivate each of the essential dimensions of of the Eightfold Path in an integrated way.
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’.
Responsible citizenship goes to the core of our ethical commitments as dharma practitioners. So the existential threat to ourselves and all other life-forms, that climate change poses, must stand high on our civic agenda. It mightily evokes the overarching ethic of the dharma – the ethic of care – understood both as concernful awareness, and as a prompt to action.
Winton Higgins argues that the dharma is something one practices, so the dharma is closely associated with something we’re doing, i.e., following a path of practice that leads to liberation. On the way, this helps us to become freer, healthier people, progressively less anxious, obsessed, compulsive and constrained. The dharma carries an ethos, a morality.