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PHIL 431- Topic 5 Discussion: Engaged Buddhism

Aug 24, 2023


Engaged Buddhism is usually defined in opposition to “mainstream” Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism, it is said, focuses on social justice and political issues, while “regular” Buddhism focuses on meditation and personal ethics as a path toward enlightenment.

This distinction leads to a specific question: Should Buddhists (either individually or collectively) focus on addressing social ills, or should they focus on enlightenment, attaining a better rebirth, or the like? As discussed in these readings, this is a live question in Buddhist circles, with many voices on both sides of the issue.


Here, I want you to formulate your own opinions on this issue. Should Buddhists actively try to address social or political issues? Or should they focus on progressing towards enlightenment?


Remember that for each discussion post, you need to write:

  • your initial post, 2-3 paragraphs in length, that develops 1 or more arguments

Topic 5 Discussion: Engaged Buddhism

Here, I want you to formulate your own opinions on this issue. Should Buddhists actively try to address social or political issues? Or should they focus on progressing towards enlightenment?

From the analysis of both authors, engaging Buddhism is usually defined as the opposition related to “mainstream”, Buddhism. Therefore, formulated my own opinion about the issues which is based on Buddhism to thrive with an anti-political status religion. Apart from this, Buddhism is normatively based on the concern which is sole with the soteriological need to be an individual who is conceived on a worldly basis. The second question which arises mainly focuses on the credibility that engages Buddhism with an appeal related to its tradition so that it can be supported by socio-political activities. Engaging “Buddhism”, can be said which focus on the social justice system with a political issue, while this incorporates a regular Buddhist understanding of how it focuses upon meditation and relates with certain personal ethics made towards the path for Enlightenment. Through his first major insight, Lord Buddha tried to convey the ordinary life of an individual which is mainly characterized due to the method of suffering and analysis. While compared to this, in the second Topic Discussion, this was mentioned that Lama Zopa has expanded the idea, with unpacked details that have relevance to the suffering, particularly it is based on human suffering. Learning from the text of Buddhist sects Mahayana and Hinayana shows the pathway towards Bodhisattvas. Perhaps this is considered to be one of the features of Buddhist literature. Buddhists believe in no fundamental ideal difference between any human being. While they are required to get significance can have been getting a treatment of equality and fairness towards justice.   

I think Buddhism mainly focuses on the political understanding that deals with non-violence and acts based on equality underneath the bedrock of the Buddhist social justice system. Moreover, as it is mentioned by the government methods eventually focus on the requirement made to the moral and legal protections while creating an arbitrary use of power. Lord Buddha, on politics mainly assured that they were concerned to heal the danger they felt due to the tyranny. Apart from this, in the case of the social cause, Buddha was not that open, while his attitude towards society mainly, gained value because he stood for the social issues taking place in the Indian subcontinent. Stated by Jenkins (2003), who narrates about Engaged Buddhism relevant to the studies narrated about the system followed by Bodhisattvas to relieve poverty. 

In comparison to this, Deitrick (2003), spoke about engaging Buddhist ethics “Mistaking the boat for the shore”, This engages with the metaphor that dwindles with the policy of liberation and the learning about the ideas to cross from one shore to the other. Hence, think that Buddhists have been actively participating in addressing social and political issues.                 

Thus, his words are even followed in International conflicts which can be solved by actually working together through the means of the discussion related to the points while negotiating the details related to Buddhism, as it is considered the root cause of all the social problems related to the human cravings, the hatred or the reason for the ignorance. Moreover, with the regular system Buddhism is based on meditation rather than any personal ethics towards the path which is entrusted with the details that are delivered about the Enlightenment. As opined by Deitrick (2003), political and social engagement according to the inescapable part mainly relates to beliefs that it requires to be needed based on effectiveness. Moreover, this is based on the detrimental cause with a central mission which is offered by the dharma that is needed. As compared, this gave rise to interesting facts to reflect on the action taken place within the action related to one’s action towards the Dharma.

As a result, if the Buddhists progressed towards the Enlightenment then they could even make progress in their ideas with rankles chattering policy underneath the class system and the ideas related to the Enlightenment. According to Jenkins (2003), who believed that by the policy it can be understood that the world can improve the human condition. The idea that the world is better than the process to still felt under the fashion among with clerisy among the long terms significance. The arrival of the Enlightenment related to the intellectual system and the cultural movement 18th century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith. Hence, the Enlightenment accelerated the intellectual movement related to the Eighteenth century which mainly emphasized reason and based on science. Thus, think that if Buddhism can be used, it can be used as a procedure to progress with both the social and political aspects to gather reason for all the studies and learning with a reason. This eventually plays a significant role as it is believed that the human cycle is mainly based on suffering and rebirth. While this helps one to achieve the state of enlightenment which is the path of Nirvana, considered to be the possible manner to escape into this cycle forever. No sooner did Lord Gautama attain this, he was acknowledged as the first person to reach the state of Enlightenment, and for this reason, he is known as Lord Buddha.


Deitrick, J. (2003). “Engaged Buddhist Ethics: Mistaking the Boat for the Shore.” In Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism, edited by Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, and Christopher Queen. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, S. (2003). “Do Bodhisattvas Relieve Poverty.” In Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism, edited by Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, and Christopher Queen. London: Routledge

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