Buddhist Centre Features

Buddhism and Politics

On Sun, 3 September, 2023 - 11:50
Candradasa's picture

Is it possible to engage in politics as a Buddhist? What might it look like - and not look like - if we do?

Our guests this week come together for a thoughtful, provocative conversation occasioned by Vishvapani‘s recent article for Tricycle Buddhist review looking at the arresting, perhaps astonishing, fact that one of the most powerful people in the UK – Home Secretary Suella Braverman - is also faithfully involved as a Buddhist practitioner within the context of the Triratna Buddhist Community.

Candradasa is joined by Lokabandhu, deputy mayor of Glastonbury, UK, Vajratara from Tiratanaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre for Women, and Vishvapani, writer and broadcaster, to explore the perspectives and frameworks within which we see and experience the world and discuss how Buddhism and politics relate. 

Buddhism offers a deeply transformative path of ethical practice that does not engage at the level of specific politics. Instead it calls for the radical re-orientation of our being in light of a recognition of the roles impermanence, deeply complex conditionality, and interdependence play in our sense of personal and societal happiness. So how does such a broadly environmental approach to the mind and reality itself sit in relation to political views that often tend to individual and collective rigidity, polarization, and the fragmentation of community? 

The panel evokes what we as Buddhists have to contribute in the face of diverse dangers that threaten society as we know it: challenges to liberal democracy, consequences of current responses to climate change, and a growing mental health crisis afflicting millions around the world.

We open up the idea of Buddhists as a potential force for good, an active body within the wider community made up of people who live and act as examples of compassion and sanity in the world. Members of a ‘new society’ who might take leading roles without being compromised by division and the application of personal or group-based power. Is it all a pipe dream, or is this a tantalising, achievable possibility? At the very least, how can Buddhist approaches to life that actively envision the wellbeing of people and communities influence our personal engagement with political culture in ways that are of broad benefit?

Join us for a podcast of ideas, values, and considered reflection on the most tricky of areas. This is how we can harmoniously talk about politics with each other - as full members of society spanning different cultures, perspectives and views.

Show notes

Suella Braverman Is the UK’s Buddhist Home Secretary and a Right-Wing Culture Warrior by Vishvapani (Tricycle Buddhist Review)

Vishvapani’s episodes of the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’

Mindful Cities Initiative

Buddhism, World Peace, and Nuclear War by Sangharakshita (Free Buddhist Audio)

The Nucleus of a New Society by Sangharakshita (Free Buddhist Audio)

What Is Buddhist Activism? (The Buddhist Centre Podcast)

Sangharakshita, Dr. Rewatta Dhamma, Sogyal Rimpoche, and Thich Nhat Hanh in conversation (Clear Vision Archive) 

Doctor Bhimrao Ambedkar as a Buddhist social activist (The Buddhist Centre Online)

The Rest Is Politics podcast episodes with Yuval Noah Harari: 

This week’s guests

Lokabandhu as Deputy Mayor of Glastonbury

Vajratara at Tiratanaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre for Women

Wise Attention by Vishvapani (website)

Mindfulness In Action (website)


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