The application of Buddhist moral theory to contemporary social issues has come to be referred to as “engaged Buddhism.” The purpose of this new brand of applied Buddhist ethics is to highlight social activism over meditative practice and philosophical analysis. Traditionally, Buddhist practitioners have emphasized that the sources of suffering are psychological, and have therefore advocated—first and foremost—an engagement with one's own mind. In the Mahāyāna, moral development rests upon the realization of emptiness and compassion. But is spiritual realization truly a prerequisite for Buddhist engagement with pressing issues such as war, economic injustice, and environmental degradation? To what degree must a proactive approach to such issues fly in the face of, and challenge, the Buddhist tradition? And how exactly can the attitudes of freedom from attachment, compassion and wisdom be translated into social action?
Sallie King (James Madison University)
Christopher Queen (Harvard University)
Karma Lekshe Tsomo (University of San Diego)
Barbra Clayton (Mount Allison University, CA)
Damien Keown (Goldsmith College, UK)