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Today is 1 July and I guess that means the end of Buddhist Action Month. I have been enormously inspired and delighted to read and hear of all the many actions and events that have been taking place in Triratna Groups and Centres around the world - sadhu to us all!
Over the past month, many of us have been engaged in actions and sangha gatherings around the theme of ‘Buddhist Action’. It has been an opportunity to reflect on our interrelationship with the world around us - how does our lifestyle and our consumption habits affect the world and the people in it? Both now as well as the effect on future generations?
Do we want it to be the way it is - are there changes we’d like to make? To what extent is our collective lifestyle in the West an ethical issue? To what extent it our individual lifestyle based on simplicity, contentment, awareness of others, generosity etc and hence sustainable and helpful: this may make us more aware of the potentially radical nature of a dharma lifestyle!
I tend to think that our individual & collective dharma practice is capable of contributing to signifiant social transformation - especially if we make the transformative nature of it quite explicit and keep moving beyond a our cultural conditioning of individualism and materialism.
It may be the end of BAM 2016, but it can be the beginning of integrating greater awareness of the consequences of our actions on the planet and all the people who live in it! And a continuing exploration of ‘What does the Bodhisattva Ideal mean for us in the 21st century?!’
Let’s continue the exploration of this theme over the rest of the year - on the buddhistcentre online this conversation can continue on the Compassion in Action page. You can post any thoughts, discussion points, details of events or action points that relate to the theme of compassionate action/
Of course, the ultimate compassionate action and one that the historical Buddha exemplified, is teaching the dharma or supporting those that do it. I have just started reading Analayo’s book Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation’ - I am only a few chapters in but so far it is very readable and enjoyable - highly recommended!
But there are millions of beings - humans and animals - who don’t and never will have access to a Buddhist Centre, and who also may well not have any voice or many possibilities to change their lives without support: how can we reach out to some of them? And should that sound too grandiose and ‘too much’ then we might just have to lift our gaze in our local communities, people just outside our front door, and notice what might of benefit to ease their life and gain greater perspective on the choices they can make.
The intention to benefit all beings ,
Which does not arise in others even for their own sake,
Is an extraordinary jewel of the mind,
Its birth an unprecedented wonder.
It is the panacea that relieves the world of all pain, ,
And is the source of all its joy
If even the thought to relieve
Living creatures of merely a headache
Is a beneficial intention endowed with infinite goodness,
Then what need is there to to mention
The wish to dispel their inconceivable misery,
Wishing every single one of them
To realize boundless good qualities?
Santideva, bodhicharyavatara, ch 1