On Wednesday, James Ford of Monkey Mind wrote an interesting and insightful piece titled, A Reflection on the Methodology of Our Emerging Liberal Buddhisms. “Liberal Buddhisms” are forms Buddhism that incorporate contemporary ideas and sensibilities into Buddhist teachings and practice while abandoning certain traditional aspects of Buddhism deemed anachronistic. As Buddhism changes and adapts (some might say “mutates”) in the West, we run the risk of cutting ourselves off from our roots and  getting lost in the ambiguity of loose interpretations of the dharma. To correct for this, Ford shares  some wisdom he has learned from his Anglican friends. Anglicans, he explains, have a system they use to examine the development their own evolving tradition. It’s called the “three-legged stool,” where equal emphasis is placed on scripture, tradition, and reason. These three legs should be seen “as dynamic, each informing the other, each correcting the other.” I think Ford is onto something here and recommend reading the piece.

On the Engaged Buddhism front, I received newsletters from two excellent organizations this week, Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) and the Canadian Engaged Buddhism Association (CEBA). BGR’s letter contains info on their upcoming projects, work they are doing to help children in Indian slums, details about the BGR Walk to Feed the Hungry this September in NYC, as well as a video teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi and an article on generosity by Sharon Salzberg. Sharon writes,

The practice of generosity is about creating space. We see our limits and we extend them continuously, which creates a deep expansiveness and spaciousness of mind. This happiness, self-respect, and spaciousness is the appropriate ground for meditation practice to flourish. It is the ideal place from which to undertake deep investigation, because with this kind of inner happiness and spaciousness, we have the strength and flexibility to look at everything that arises in our experience.

Read the whole piece here.

CEBA‘s newsletter, which contains updates on the Metta Schools Project, the Peace Grove Institute, and efforts to plant one million trees in Lumbini, Nepal, also includes an excellent teaching by the CEBA’s spiritual leader, Venerable Matteya, on the “Noble Eightfold Path for Environmentally Enlightened Living.” In the piece Ven. Matteya explains:

2500 years ago when Buddha lived and taught, they didn’t have the environmental issues that we face nowadays, and so there are no specific teachings by the Buddha on environmental issues. …

Based on the Buddha’s teachings on the Noble Eightfold Path I have formulated a “Noble Eightfold Path for Environmentally Enlightened Living”:

The steps are :

1. Reduce: First of all we need to think about our consumption and its impact on the environment and should learn to reduce the unnecessary things and rethink many of our purchasing options.

2. Reuse: It is possible to reuse many things.

3. Recycle: We should recycle our recyclable waste and also learn to compost and help create nutritional and healthy soil.

4. Be Wise with our Energy Consumption: Electricity, petrol and other sources of energy cost us money and have huge impacts on the environment. Let’s learn to conserve and utilize these resources wisely.

5. Take Positive Action: Let’s not just sit back and complain or talk about the environment but let’s roll up our sleeves and take some positive action to heal our planet. Plant a tree, pick up litter, volunteer for environmental organizations, etc.

6. Eat Consciously, Compassionately and Change Your Diet: Lets learn about the energy that goes into our food choices- this is one of the most important areas where we can each make a significant difference. Learn to grow some of our own food, choose locally grown fresh food and less processed food items, incorporate Meatless Mondays (or more often) into the week if not already doing so.

7. Practice and Support Right Livelihoods: Those that are non-harming to ourselves and others and which benefit society and the health of the planet.

8. Address the Root Causes of Environmental Issues: Strengthen our resolve to examine the root causes of our delusions of greed, fear and jealousy and work to develop good qualities in our minds through meditation and mindfulness.

To request to be added to CEBA’s newletter list, send a request to the email address on their contact page.

Image via Estherase (Flickr)

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