I have created a category of posts here called “engaged Buddhism”. In general I am not a fan of the standard interpretation of engaged Buddhism. It seems to me that we feel the need to invent another branch of the teachings that is somehow more engaged than the traditional path. That confronting ones own ignorance and aggression is not “engaged” enough. Personally, I can think of nothing more engaged, active, or courageous than staring ones own samsaric propensities in the face as often as you can throughout the day.
In no way do I think we should dismiss more conventional means of activism. They are an important part of how we shape and influence our world. However, in my opinion they don’t come anywhere near the level of directness or long-term efficacy of authentic practice.
The common idea of engaged Buddhism also carries connotations of revolution. Political revolution is simply not the answer and we can witness this in the conflicts that span the globe at this very moment.
The real process of moving toward a society of peace and dignity is far more personal than determining who has titles of power within a society. Our dignity and peace is cultivated through commitment and deep personal effort. Our commitment to cultivating ourselves is given greater power by how diligent we are in our pursuit of humanity. This expression of humanity is then given an organic means to communicate and spread to our families, our communities, our countries, and our world.
It won’t happen tomorrow, but I would much rather see a world were we commit to the long term solution of personal evolution than another temporary and bloody revolution.