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Structural Selfishness, Collective Karma

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It may be the pain of our own suffering that brings us all to begin practice, but both the Buddha and Shantideva insist that our practice must address the suffering of all beings. What is the relationship between personal suffering and suffering that is created through the structures of our society? This Dharma Talk proposes the term “structural selfishness” to discuss the ways that a fixed idea of self hinders our practice, while offering insight on how to embrace the complexity of interdependence. Overcoming structural selfishness can transform the way we respond both our own pain and to that of all beings, and the quality of care we show to ourselves, each other, and the world. 

Malcolm Martin is a dharma heir of Barry Magid and a teacher at the UK Ordinary Mind Zen School. He has worked for the last ten years as a part time Buddhist Chaplain in prisons in the United Kingdom.