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circular practice

(further to yesterday’s post) The premise of socially engaged Buddhism is the taking of dharma-inspired action off the cushion and into the world. In the Soto Zen tradition practice begins and returns to shikantaza (just sitting); from there it continues to expand and to contract. “There is great value in spirituality that emphasizes and supports withdrawal from society,” writes Wayne Teasdale, “but in our time, with its special needs, we require a spirituality of intense involvement and radical engagement.” 

With the late Br. Wayne (1945-2002) as a role model I decided against a monastic career and returned to the market place to learn the craft of servant. That practice requires me to swim each day against the stream of complacency and conformity. 

Tibetan teacher Pema Chödrön writes that–

“compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.”

source: Teasdale, W. (2002). A monk in the world: cultivating a spiritual life. Novato, CA: New World Library, p. xxiii. Chödrön, P. In the gap between right and wrong. (Although they are much quoted, I’ve been unable to find the specific source for these lines. Anyone?).


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