From Bodhisattva to Ecosattva: Integrating Personal Practice and Global Activism

David LoyAudio, Deep Transformation, Ethical, Spiritual, Spirituality, Sustainability Leave a Comment

“When your sense of separation dissipates, it becomes not what’s in it for me, but what can I do to help make this a better world for everybody?”David Loy

David Loy, Zen teacher, scholar, and prolific author, reveals his acute understanding of the crises we face today, the psychology at the root of the problems, and how we can make our way forward in this in-depth discussion. He has adopted the term ecodharma to focus attention on the challenge Buddhism faces now: integrating personal transformation with global activism and social transformation. As David points out, the focus needs to be on this world, with transcendence being a metaphorical understanding but not an excuse to abandon the problems we and our planet face today.

Besides gaining great depth of knowledge from being a scholar and student of koans, David’s insights come from a plethora of nondual experiences, which led David on a path of eco-action. Ecodharma asks: How does Buddhism need to change? How much is dwelling in emptiness becoming problematical in these challenging times? What’s best for the Earth? Everyone says practice, practice, practice…when is the performance? Is evolutionary pressure going to create a new way of living sustainably?

Recorded February 22, 2020.

Topics & Timestamps: Part 1

  • Social activism, Zen practice, philosophy, koan study: how it all started (03:52)
  • How does David’s Zen practice inform his activism? It was the experiences of nondual reality (05:48)
  • The emergence of compassion: when your sense of separation dissipates, it becomes not what’s in it for me, but what can I do to help make this a better world for everybody (09:14)
  • The cold civil war in the U.S. and the need to find a way to talk with each other and understand conflicting points of view (12:03)
  • Our fundamental problem is that we don’t feel real, because the separate self is a construct, inherently insecure, inherently uncomfortable, and we experience this as a sense of fundamental lack (14:03)
  • The psychological and sociological implications of this sense of lack and how society is constructed to take advantage of it: the contemporary world religion is consumerism (17:31)
  • The positive and negative sides of individualism (22:23)
  • The heart of the bodhisattva path: personal transformation and social transformation (24:57)
  • The challenge of integrating nondual experiences (27:31)
  • 3 elements of the Pali Canon’s Motivation for Awakening (28:31)
  • Dukkha (suffering) is structural not just individual (30:09)
  • Awakenings: transcendent, imminent, and the decline of Axial religions that devalue this world (36:26)
  • The problem with mindfulness and the 3 poisons: greed, ill will, delusion (40:51)

Topics & Timestamps: Part 2

  • The role of technology, moving into an age of virtual reality, and the creation of supernormal stimuli (01:41)
  • Ecodharma: addressing the need for a new understanding of practice and walking the bodhisattva/ecosattva path (04:37)
  • Keeping “don’t know” mind in the face of the eco-crisis (09:57)
  • How can Buddhism contribute to facing the critical issues of our time? (10:54)
  • The Extinction Rebellion, a grassroots direct action movement (11:49)
  • The election of Trump has highlighted our problems in making them worse (15:16)
  • The problem of complacency (17:24)
  • What signifies that one has started to walk the bodhisattva path? (19:42)
  • Desire versus craving (21:26)
  • Karma yoga and not being attached to the outcome (22:14)
  • The cycle of withdrawal and return common to those people who have contributed the most to humankind (23:45)
  • The deepest challenge of our practice is integrating the knowledge that everything is perfect, but also knowing action is needed to improve things (26:36)
  • Evolutionary psychology, the evolution of religion, and what we need to do today (28:18)
  • What socially engaged Buddhism has to contribute (34:02)
  • The challenge of the gnostic intermediary to transmit a wisdom tradition across cultures and across time (34:59)

Resources & References

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos

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About the Deep Transformation series

We are clearly in a new era, facing world-threatening challenges and graced with barely conceivable opportunities. In this mind-boggling new world, we all face two crucial questions:

  • First, the ever-present conundrum of how to best live fully, deeply, wisely, and well.
    Second, the new question unique to our times, how to best understand and heal our endangered world.
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David Loy

About David Loy

Early on, David Loy studied koans under Yamada Kōun Roshi while teaching Eastern and Western philosophy in Japan. He began to have direct experiences of nonduality, and the recognition of unity, or connection with others, led to his activism in the spheres of social justice and the eco-crisis. A scholar, professor, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition, David brings a Buddhist perspective to the ecological crisis we face today. He points out there is an important parallel between what Buddhism says about our personal predicament and about our collective predicament in relation to the rest of the biosphere. David is also a prolific author; his latest book is Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis; and he is co-editor of A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency.

Roger Walsh

About Roger Walsh

Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., has spent nearly a quarter century researching and practicing in the world's great spiritual traditions. His critically acclaimed book, Essential Spirituality, is a summary of that wisdom, outlining the seven spiritual practices common to the world's major religions.

John Dupuy

About John Dupuy

John Dupuy is co-founder and CEO of iAwake Technologies, a company that creates cutting-edge, high-tech brainwave entrainment soundtracks that support the healing of emotional/shadow issues, deepen meditation, mental focus, creativity, and flow states, and enhance a daily integral transformative practice. John has been working personally and professionally with brainwave entrainment technology since 2004, and travels internationally to teach and inspire on the subjects of Integral Transformative Practice and Integral Recovery®. John is also the author of Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Award, and co-host of the popular Journey of Integral Recovery podcast. John also hosts the online series Spiritual Tech Talks 2.0, in which he converses with leaders, pioneers, and inventors on the current wave of emerging spiritual technologies.