Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations on Vesak, 2019.
The discourses of the Buddha speak of the causal origins of suffering primarily in the framework of the individual quest for liberation. They show how the mental afflictions damage our personal lives and how was individuals. We can free ourselves from them today. However, as the world has been integrated into a single interdependent global order, we have to examine how this process of causation operates at a collective level and then based on this investigation we must determine the kind of changes we must make in our societies, political institutions, and global policies to avoid the adversities we face as an international community. We can call this a global application of sati sampajañña, of mindfulness and clear comprehension of all the dangers we face together today, the most formidable, the most all-embracing, and the most threatening is the one usually called climate change, but which perhaps might be more accurately called climate destabilization or climate disorientation.
Above all, we have to turn away from a social system driven by greed, by the quest for limitless profits, by competition, exploitation, and violence against other people and the natural world, social systems that allow a few to flourish while millions, even billions, live on the edge of survival. Instead, we need to envision new collective systems of global integration that give priority to cooperation and collaboration, to living in harmony with each other and with nature, systems that will enable all people to flourish economically, socially, and spiritually.