Buddhism and Inequality: An Opportunity to Respond to Need in IndiaOn Wed, 8 April, 2020 - 11:30
For the home retreat, we have been reflecting on material from Vajragupta around Sailing the Worldly Winds. As Vajragupta said in one of his introductory talks, the worldly winds can blow both individually, within us, but also within society and the world.
We have an opportunity when ‘Sailing the Worldly Winds’ to remember that they are not personal - they don’t only blow through us, but they blow all over the world and in some places and some cases they blow more strongly than others. This can be an opportunity for us to connect with other beings around the world, with a heart and mind of compassion.
Vajragupta’s more recent talk, Buddhism and Inequality explores how we can use the teaching of the worldly winds to transform both ourselves and the world around us - how we can free ourselves and others from views which limit and discriminate and learn to live in the world with more liberated hearts and minds. How we can stop relating to the world in terms of status and in terms of where we stand in relation to others.
He also references Dr. Ambedkar, one of the greatest liberation fighters of the 20th Century, who used his whole life to fight for the rights of some of India’s most discriminated communities - the Dalit (previously referred to as “Untouchable”) community. Dr. Ambedkar was himself a Dalit, a great social and political activist and one of the most educated men in India at that time, who became India’s first law minister and drafted the Indian Constitution. However, he saw that education, social and political activism were not enough to free oneself from the bonds of the caste system - he saw that caste is a problem in the mind - a discrimination, mind-made. Caste is inequality in one of its strongest social forms. He saw that to change this, one must transform one’s own mind and after much study and deliberation, he felt that Buddhism was the religion which would support him and his followers to do this.
On Saturday, we released a podcast speaking to two Triratna charities who are inspired by Dr Ambedkar’s work - the Karuna Trust and the India Dhamma Trust. Some have called the coronavirus the great leveller - it affects us all. However, there are communities in places in the world who will be much harder hit by this crisis than others and the podcast describes how.
We hear of communities in India where there are 1,000 people sharing one tap as their source of water; where people are daily wage labourers who won’t have money or food if they don’t work; and we hear how these charities are responding right now.
At this time of crisis, we have the opportunity to open up to the suffering in the world and respond with generosity; in the process, transforming not only ourselves, but the world around us.
If you can, please donate to support this vital work in India.
Listen to the podcast to see how some of Triratna’s charities are responding right now and setting up resources for long-term planning to meet the fallout of this crisis.