This Sunday, June 14th, at 10am Pacific, I’ll be joined by David Loy for The Politics of Buddhism: Awakening from Institutionalized Greed, Ill-Will, and Delusion.
Almost twenty years ago, I devoured a truly terrific book, Lack and Transcendence, by David Loy. It’s a profound companion volume to Ernest Becker’s great classic The Denial of Death, a deep examination of how “anatta” (the Buddhist doctrine of “no-self”) intersects with the Freudian idea of psychological repression.
With keen intelligence, David’s book opens up the anatomy of the persistent sense of “lack” and how it motivates so many seemingly innocent human activities and in fact pervades human life and culture.
David is a professor, Zen teacher and the author of ten books on Buddhism, nonduality, Western history, climate change, war, and many other topics. A few years ago I met him for the first time when I moderated a panel on nonduality and social action, a subject about which we’re both passionate.
David has noted that the Buddha described the roots of evil as the “three poisons” of greed, ill will, and delusion. When we let them motivate our actions, the inevitable result is dukkha: “suffering.” He says this operates not just at the level of each individual; human institutions are the mirror image of their motivations too.
He uses this as a lens through which to look into the key questions of our time: the destruction of the environment, the exploitation of human beings, and the use of deception to quell dissent and debate.
Do our present economic systems institutionalize greed? Do our military systems institutionalize ill will? Does our corporate media institutionalize delusion?
As David writes:
If greed is defined as “never having enough,” then that also applies collectively: corporations are never large enough or profitable enough, their share value is never high enough, and our GNP is never big enough. In fact, we cannot imagine what “big enough” might be. Built into these systems is the belief that they must keep growing, or else they will collapse.
But why is more always better if it can never be enough? Who is responsible for this collective fixation on growth? All of us participate in one way or another, as employees, consumers, investors, and pensioners.
The problem is that we rarely take personal responsibility for results that are collective: any awareness of what is happening tends to be diffused in the impersonal anonymity of the broader economic process…our economic system has its own built-in motivations based on greed…
Awakening to the nature of these institutional poisons is just as important as the individual awakening that lies at the core of Buddhist teaching. In fact, the two are inseparable.
David and I agree that a radical transformation is called for. Nothing less will do.
Of course, this is easy to say, and very, very hard to enact. So I am looking forward to joining David Loy this Sunday, as together we examine the profound koan of how to “be the change” we see is so sorely needed. I hope you’ll join me!
About David Loy
David Loy is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a prolific author, whose essays and books (including Money, Sex, War, Karma and The Great Awakening) have been translated into many languages. His articles appear regularly in the pages of major journals such as Tikkun and Buddhist magazines including Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. A professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, David lectures nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity: what each can learn from the other. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. His website is www.davidloy.org
HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Sunday, June 14th at 10:00am Pacific; 11:00am Mountain; 12:00pm Central; 1:00pm Eastern
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We look forward to your attendance!
The Beyond Awakening Team