MINDFULNESS MUST BE ENGAGED
Social action: what to do and how to do it. An issue for any spiritual community ….
“When I was in Vietnam, so many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection, we decided to do both – to go out to help people, and to do so in mindfulness. We called it engaged Buddhism. Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?
“We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help. If we maintain awareness of our breathing and continue to practice smiling, even in difficult situations, then many people, animals, and plants will benefit from our way of doing things. Are you massaging our Mother Earth every time your foot touches her? Are you planting seeds of joy and peace? I try to do exactly that with every step, and I know that our Mother Earth is most appreciative. Peace is every step. Shall we continue our journey?”
Thich Nhat Hanh Peace is every step: the path of mindfulness in daily life London: Rider, 1995
I like this approach. Not either/or but bigger and more ambitious in a good sort of way.
Thanks Nimue. I agree with you. I am looking carefully at Thich Nhat Hanh’s work at the moment.
I’ve got a book of his somewhere, if I can find it you’d be welcome to borrow it.
I think mindfulness and social engagement complement one another.
Mindfulness without social engagement can become pointless and self indulgent.
Social engagement without mindfulness can lead to self righteousness and tyranny.
Thanks for your comment Keith. I agree wholeheartedly.