Global problem-solving: A Buddhist perspective

Linked with Sulak Sivaraksa – Thailand, and with Arrest of Thai academic raises free speech fears.

Published on Buddhanet.net, by Sulak Sivaraksa, not dated (1991???).

… To be honest and to begin by getting right to the point, I must state plainly that there is no serious contemporary Buddhist perspective for global problem-solving …

International Network of Engaged Buddhists: A Hopeful Beginning for Global Problem-Solving?

Some of us are trying to meet this challenge, and I hope what some of us are trying to do in connecting our being peace within to the outside world engagingly and mindfully, will contribute to a better world, with social justice, nonviolence and ecological balance — the Middle Way for each and for society at large, to live in harmony with one another and with nature.

Groups of young people in the west who believe in these principles and who try to act accordingly have established chapters of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

On top of that, some of us also have tried to meet with fellow Buddhists of like-mindedness in order to solve global problems concretely, taking some relevant issues of social justice which are near and dear to us, which we feel we could tackle individually and collectively with good friends (kalayamamitta) in other countries and cultures. Thus, last February, in a small city outside Bangkok, some forty-five Buddhists from all over the world, including a representative from the ABCP, met:

  • (1) to identify urgent social problems which exist in one’s own country as well as those affecting other Buddhist communities;
  • (2) to explore the ways in which participants could cooperate in acting on these issues; and
  • (3) to establish a network among engaged Buddhists on a global level.

They set up four working groups to explore different issues: education, women’s issues, human rights, and spirituality and activism.

It is not appropriate to go into the details of this meeting here. However, since some Buddhists have become aware of the shortcomings of the World Fellowship of Buddhists and similar organizations, they are now determined to set up the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), with the following objectives: to promote understanding between Buddhist countries and various Buddhist sects, to facilitate and engage in solving problems in various countries, to help bring the perspective of engaged Buddhism to bear in working on these problems, to act as a clearinghouse of information on existing engaged Buddhist (and relevant non-Buddhist) groups and activities, and to aid in the coordination of efforts wherever possible.

They will initially involve groups and individuals working in the following areas: alternative education and spiritual training, peace activism, human rights, women’s issues, ecology, family concerns, rural development, alternative economics, communication, and concerns of monks and nuns. This may be expanded in the future.

I trust that this newly-established network will collaborate meaningfully with our host organizations in applying Buddhism to global problem-solving.

Source: Buddhism and Global Nonviolent Problem Solving – Ulan Bator Explorations (August 1989), Edited by Glenn D. Paige and Sarah Gilliatt, University of Hawaii (1991). (full text).

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