A Buddhist Social Ethic for the New Century by Bhikkhu Bodhi
"In Theravada Buddhist circles during the past few decades a debate has repeatedly erupted over the question whether or not jhāna is necessary to attain the “paths and fruits,” that is, the four graded stages of enlightenment. The debate has been sparked off by the rise to prominence of the various systems of insight meditation that have become popular both in Asia and the West, especially among lay Buddhists. Those who advocate such systems of meditation contend that the paths and fruits can be attained by developing insight (vipassanā) without a foundation of jhāna. If we use the Buddha’s teachings as a lens to examine the corporate economic system and its offshoot, the consumerist culture, we will see that it is ultimately detrimental to the well-being of both its masters and servants alike. Drawing upon the tools of Buddhist analysis, let us briefly sketch the inner dynamics of this system. We see in the first instance that such a social order is founded upon ignorance or delusion (avijjā, moha), namely, the supposition that material wealth and consumption are the criteria of the good life. According to the Buddhist texts, when ignorance infiltrates our cognitive systems it issues in a series of “distortions” (vipallāsa) which infect our perception (saññā), thinking (citta), and views (diṭṭhi). The Buddha mentions four such distortions: the notions that the impermanent is permanent, that the painful (or suffering) is pleasant, that the insubstantial is a self, and that the unbeautiful is beautiful. At the most basic level we perceive things by way of these distortions; when these distorted perceptions are taken up for reflection, we start thinking in terms of them; and finally, under the combined influence of distorted perception and thought, we adopt views—that is, beliefs, doctrines, and ideologies—that affirm the mistaken notions of permanence, pleasure, selfhood, and beauty."
This is a Pariyatti audiobook of the essay "A Buddhist Social Ethic for the New Century" from the book Facing the Future: Four Essays on the Social Relevance of Buddhism by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
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