In 1963 Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term Engaged Buddhism. This type of Buddhism asks certain question, for example, should the layman simply acquire merit and seek a better rebirth? Should the monk simply be a field of merit? Should not the layperson also meditate? Should the monastic also be involved in the world, even in politics?
Buddhism addresses the problem of ‘suffering’ (dukkha). In the past the origins of dukkha are twofold: ‘craving’, characterised as greed hatred and delusion and ‘ignorance’, characterised as ignorance of the way things are (that there is suffering and that things are dependently originated). In this understanding there is nothing wrong with the world but with the way in which we perceive things. We perceive the world with greed, hatred and delusion. Social structures are, in a way, part of the problem: they enforce craving and ignorance.
Engaged Buddhism analyses social…
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