What is “engaged Buddhism?” Here, Thich Nhat Hanh explains its meaning in his own words.
When I was in Vietnam, so many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection, we decided to do both—to go out and help people and to do so in mindfulness. We called it Engaged Buddhism. Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting… We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help.
Earth Holders practice engaged Buddhism as we heal and protect ourselves, each other, and Mother Earth. We train to be solid and fresh enough to see deeply into the climate crisis, to understand the causes and conditions of environmental injustice and ecological collapse, and cultivate skillful, non-violent means to transform suffering. In this way, Mindfulness practice and mindful advocacy are one.
The essence of nonviolence is love. Out of love and the willingness to act selflessly, strategies, tactics, and techniques for a nonviolent struggle arise naturally… Other struggles may be fueled by greed, hatred, fear or ignorance, but a nonviolent one cannot use such blind sources of energy, for they will destroy those involved and also the struggle itself. Nonviolent action, born of the awareness of suffering and nurtured by love, is the most effective way to confront adversity.–Thich Nhat Hanh