|OCBS News July 2012|
|New Numata Chair|
|UN day of Vesak|
|Buddhism in southern Burma|
|Recent talk in London|
Recent talk in London
by Richard Gombrich
On Sunday 24 June I was invited to give the “Keynote Address” at the “Sambuddhatva JayantiVesak-Poson Celebrations” at Brent Town Hall in London. I spoke on “Responsibility”.
I explained that in Buddhism, as in Christianity, moral responsibility lies entirely with the individual. The idea which has grown up in some Buddhist traditions that there is also something called “collective karma” has no justification in the Buddha’s teaching. For the Buddha, karma lies in the intention of the individual, who always ultimately has the freedom to choose right or wrong, even if sometimes circumstances make the choice difficult.
The Buddha showed that absolutely everything in life is liable to change. This must include the practice of Buddhism itself. Were Buddhism now to be the same as it was in the days of the Buddha, this would falsify his teaching.
A curious feature of Buddhism today is the idea of “applied Buddhism”. This is curious simply because one has to ask what unapplied Buddhism is meant to be: would that truly be Buddhism? But maybe the term reflects a general timidity about applying Buddhist principles to the social and political issues that confront us.
I illustrated the Buddhist view of responsibility by talking of the current economic crisis in Greece, which I analysed in terms of human agency.
The response of the audience was gratifying.
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