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Anna-Korrine Hancock
Wijitha Bandara
RELS-2020
20 December 2015
Civically Engaged Buddhism

Buddhism is a religious practice that focuses on the teachings and doctrines of Gautama
Buddha. The teachings and beliefs of the religion are peace and love based . Those who practice
this religion believe in the concept of karma and reincarnation. When one does something with
the intent of evil, you will be punished in your next life. In order to stop the cycle of rebirth you
must reach nirvana. In order to reach nirvana one much pass levels of spirituality such as the
four noble truths and eight-fold path. The concept of dukkha is a huge part of Buddhism. This is
the idea of suffering. In the religion, there is a constant battle on overcoming suffering, in all
things. Buddhism also believe that things are always changing and that any attachment to
anything, person or idea will bring you suffering. Buddhism is a very complex religion.
Engages Buddhism has been translated to left-wing Buddhism as well as humanistic
Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism refers to the social submission of these teachings, as they bring
a positive relationship to the world. Monks who practice civically engaged Buddhism use the
teachings of the Dharma towards social, political, environmental and economic issues and,
injustice. This form of Buddhism is growing highly in the west. Many scholars are starting to use
this form of Buddhism as well. Engaged Buddhism started when Thch Nht Hanh felt there
needed to be more done with the suffering caused by the war.

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Thch Nht Hnh is a Buddhism monk from Vietnam. In the late 60s he was nominated
for a Noble Peace Prize for his role in the Vietnamese Peace Movement by Martin Luther King
Jr. He is an author of several Buddhist infused books and now resides in Western France . When
Thch first became aware of all of the suffering surrounding him, he knew he needed to spread
the traditions of Buddhism in a way that would help others. At the time there wasnt anything
like it happening, so he had to do it himself.
Like I previously stated, Thch thought of socially engaged Buddhism because of the
suffering her witnessed during the Vietnam War. He is quoted on saying, Engaged Buddhism is
just Buddhism. When bombs begin to fall on people, you cannot stay in the meditation hall all
of the time. Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on-not only in your body and in
your feelings, but all around you. As he practiced Buddhism he realized that the teachings
were meant to do much more.
Now living in the Plum Village Monastery in France, Thchs key teaching is that,
through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present momentthe only way to truly
develop peace, both in ones self and in the world. He now has a foundation in his namesake.
They focus on fostering peace and transform suffering in all people, animals, plants and our
planet in monasteries around the world.
Dr. Ariyaratne is the founder of Sarvodaya and [he] won the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1996
and is considered the little Gandhi. Ariyaratne served in Sir Lanka for 47 years to strife-torn
Sri Lanka and humanity . The program he originated has persisted through years of

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government persecution and terrorization, assassination intimidations and vindictive neglect by


politicians. And through that Sarvodaya continues to exemplify and practice the meaning of its
name. The meaning of Sarvodaya is the sharing of labor, thought and energy for the
awakening of all.
He emphasizes on working together to accomplish non-violent service and cooperation.
He believes that by taking the violence out of the lives of those who are suffering that they are
able to become free from that suffering. Ariyaratnes views on Engaged Buddhism are focused
on non-violence and the idea of no-self. To Sarvodaya they, see this selfless service to others
as a way of changing their own consciousness into a more awakened and compassionate state
on the way to Nirvana. If people had a good understanding of no-self, the suffering would go
away and the world together would reach enlightenment.
Sulak Sivaraksa is the founder and director of the Thai NGO Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa
Foundation. Sulak Sivaraksa was accused of lese majesty for remarks made at Thammasat
University in Bangkok which were critical of Thailand's authorities. Because he was in pursuit of
the police, Sivaraksa fled the country and has been in exile from Thailand ever since. He has
since spoke all across the united states and multiple colleges.
Sivaraksa states, Religion is at the heart of social change, and social change is the
essence of religion." [He] used Buddhist practices to help with environmental sustainability and
protection. Sulak uses this platform issue to show how applicable the Buddhist principles are to

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contemporary global issues. Though he is a Buddhist and believes very strongly in the religion,
he believes that all religions should be tolerated and respected. He believed in Buddhist

sensibility by rejecting all flamboyant and shallow rituals and emphasis on titles
In 1966, Cheng Yen founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. Her
foundation aids people who are not only in material depravation but spiritual poverty as well.
There is a great amount of volunteers that help the foundation run. Through helping those who
are destitute, Tzu Chi volunteers take on the path of bodhisattva practices.
When she was a young girl her mother became sick and Cheng prayed vigorously and
endured a vegetarian fast. When her mother got over the sickness without surgery she took on
a being a lifetime vegetarian. After her father suddenly passed, Cheng looked further into life
and death. She also took it upon herself to shave her head to begin the process of being a
Buddhist monastic. A lot of Yens Buddhism teachings are Bodhisattva focused. Though she
focuses her teachings on Bodhisattva she practices and teaches a list of other Buddhist
principles, i.e. wisdom and compassion, repentance, patience and leadership.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer
who inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination
against Untouchables. He was also known as Babasaheb. He had a very big influence on the
people of India as an activist against a list of things and a political leader. He used his Buddhist
practices to help people get out of the caste system, him being a victim of it himself . In his

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earlier life he was thinking of converting to Sikhism because of the social aspect the religion it
focuses on but then ended up studying Buddhism for the rest of his life. He took what he saw in
Sikhism and applied socially engaged Buddhism in his fight to help the people of India escape
the caste system. Because of his political power he had a fair amount of success not only
converting people to Buddhism but helping them economically.
Civically Engaged Buddhism has shaped Buddhism in many countries by applying their
beliefs to global issues to lessen the suffering of people, animals and the earth. The religion
because of engaged Buddhism, is more widely accepted and popular in other parts of the
world, like the West. Looking back on the Buddhism that first arose when the original Buddha
came about, there have been a lot of changes to beliefs. Those beliefs or practices arent just
different because of time but by location of where the religion is practiced. Engaged Buddhism
has really opened up the practice to those who do not currently practice the faith. Because of
this, monks who practice socially engaged Buddhism speak out and at times rally for social,
political, economic and environmental issues within the world.

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Sources Cited
Malkin, John. "In Engaged Buddhism, Peace Begins with You." Lion's Roar. 30 June 2003. Web.
19 Dec. 2015.
Mitchell, Donald W. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2007), 326.
Sivaraksa, Sulak (1992). Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society. Foreword by H.
H. the Dalai Lama. Parallax Press / International Network of Engaged Buddhist / SathirakosesNagapradipa Foundation.
http://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/biography/
http://www.onlinegk.com/nobel-personalities/dr-b-r-ambedkar
http://www.rightlivelihood.org/sulak.html