A challenge to Buddhists

Back in 2007, Bhikkhu Bodhi, a respected and well-known Theravadan Buddhist monk published a challenge to Buddhists.

I recently re-read this and some trenchant comment on Ajahn Punnadhammo’s ‘Bhikkhu’s Blog’ here.

Bhikkhu Bodhi is concerned that western Buddhists are most interested in alleviating their personal angst and not with the substantial physical suffering experienced by a large proportion of humanity.

In my opinion, this is still a very major issue for Buddhism. Where are the Buddhist led projects to alleviate material suffering? I recall discussing this with a friend who pointed out that Buddhists invariably give to many charities and just do not publicise their activity. I think this has some truth to it, but I wonder why this is? Is this perhaps a British reticence to avoid making a fuss about good deeds? Or are such deeds regarded as not really part of Buddhist practice?

Is ‘thought compassion’ regarded as more appropriate and ‘Buddhist’ than real hands on help? Or maybe giving to Buddhist clerics, monks and nuns is the only praiseworthy form of generosity in contemporary Buddhism?

Perhaps we can be more open about the charities we support and much clearer in recommending generosity and support for those in need as not only fully in line with the Buddha’s teaching, but also of great benefit to all.

Categories: Faith and Religion

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