Sulak Sivaraksa, one of Asia’s foremost social thinkers and activists, sheds critical light on the “religion of consumerism” and the “Think-Big” strategy of development. In Seeds of Peace, the author draws on his study and practice of Buddhism to approach a wide range of subjects, including economic development, the environment, Japan’s role in Asia, and women in Buddhism. At once critical and compassionate, Sulak offers alternatives to these destructive patterns of living that threaten our planet.
Sulak Sivaraksa wide-ranging work includes founding the International Network of Engaged Buddhist. He has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.
What a welcome event is this book by one of the heroes of our time, for now Sulak Sivaraksa’s courageous life and work in Southeast Asia can inspire people throughout the world. To the soul-destroying, Earth-destroying religions of consumerism, greed, and exploitation, he brings deep wisdom and refreshingly sane alternatives. —Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self
A BUDDHIST MODEL OF SOCIETY
One of the fundamental teachings of Buddhist psychology is the co-arising of mind and matter. Buddhism does not postulate one “prime cause,” but multiple causes, including psychological, cultural, socio-economic, and military processes and structures. Karma is at once both individual and social. Buddhism teaches us to look at the whole picture, balancing the prevailing psychological norms with a sort of counter-psychology, and balancing our culture, economy, and military-industrial policies with a counterculture, a counter-economy, and counter-policies.
One prototypical form of the emerging counter-civilization is the Buddhist sangha. The sangha, in its pure state, is independent of the fashions of a particular historical period. Its ideals–cooperation, propertylessness, egalitarian democracy–have remained intact for two and a half millennia. Even its robes and eating utensils have stayed the same. In spreading peace and stability throughout their societies, the monastic sangha has guided its followers using a code of nonviolent ethics and social welfare.
Although, since the death of the Buddha, sectors of the sangha have become dependent on state patronage for their well-being and have become more centralized and hierarchical, there remains a core of propertyless and familyless radical clergy who practice the methodology of the Buddha. Communities of Buddhists like these continue to function today in disregard of the elite “State Buddhists.”