Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice. Finding its roots in Vietnam through the Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Engaged Buddhism has grown in popularity in the West.
The term was coined by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (known as Thay to his students), inspired by the Humanistic Buddhism reform movement in China by Taixu and Yinshun, and later propagated in Taiwan by Cheng Yen and Hsing Yun. At first, he used Chinese characters (a scriptural language of Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhism), 入世佛教 (lit: Worldly Buddhism, 入世 = enter + world). During the Vietnam War, he and his sangha (spiritual community) made efforts to respond to the suffering they saw around them. They saw this work as part of their meditation and mindfulness practice, not apart from it. Thich Nhat Hanh outlined fourteen precepts of Engaged Buddhism which explained his philosophy.
This term has since been re-translated back into Chinese as "Left-wing Buddhism" (左翼佛教) to denote the liberal emphasis held by this type of Buddhism. The term has also been used as a translation for what is commonly understood in China and Taiwan as "Humanistic Buddhism" (人間佛教).
Western Socially Engaged Buddhism
In the West, like the East, Engaged Buddhism is a way of attempting to link authentic Buddhist meditation with social action. The current Dalai Lama has voiced a need for Buddhists to be more involved in the social and political realm.
In 1998, while on retreat in Bodh Gaya, India, ...the Dalai Lama told those of us who were participating in a Buddhist-Christian dialogue that sometimes, Buddhists have not acted vigorously to address social and political problems. He told our group, “In this, we have much to learn from the Christians.”
Organizations such as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists and the Zen Peacemakers, led by Roshi Bernard Glassman are devoted to building the movement of engaged Buddhists. Other engaged Buddhist groups include the Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health and Insight, Gaden Relief Projects, the UK's Network of Buddhist Organisations, Fo Guang Shan and Tzu Chi.
Prominent figures in the movement include Robert Aitken Roshi, Joanna Macy, Gary Snyder, Alan Senauke, Sulak Sivaraksa, Maha Ghosananda, Sylvia Wetzel, Joan Halifax, Tara Brach, Taigen Dan Leighton, Ken Jones, and Bhikkhu Bodhi.
- Buddhist socialism
- Humanistic Buddhism
- Engaged Spirituality
- Buddhist Peace Fellowship
- Religion and peacebuilding
- Queen, Chris; King, Sallie (1996). Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. New York: Albany State University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-7914-2843-5.
- Queen, Christopher (2000). Engaged Buddhism in the West. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. p. 36. ISBN 0-86171-159-9.
- In Engaged Buddhism, Peace Begins with You
- The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism
- Engaged Buddhism
- What's Buddhist about Socially Engaged Buddhism
- Justify Your Love: Finding Authority for Socially Engaged Buddhism
- Phra Paisal Visalo: Buddhists Engaged in Social Development
- Phra Paisal Visalo: The path to social and inner happiness
- Engaged Practice
- Buddhist Peace Fellowship
- Zen Peacemakers
- International Network of Engaged Buddhists
- Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK)
- Amida Trust Home Page
- Sulak Sivaraksa: A Socially Engaged Buddhism
- The Engaged Zen Foundation
- Buddhist Global Relief
- Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health and Insight
- Gaden Relief Projects
- Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women