David R. Loy is the Besl Professor of Ethics/Religion and Society at Cincinnati's Xavier University. He contends that Buddhism in the West is facing fresh challenges as it seeks to address "the spiritual needs of modern people living in a globalizing world." In his Dharma talks and essays, he takes on this daunting task. Loy begins with a look at the suffering self and the Buddhist message of emptiness, which is so hard to understand in the West where we want everything to fill us up and satisfy our needs. In the next three chapters, he examines cravings for money, fame, and time. We regard all three as catalysts to making us more real and that is "a collective delusion." Sex is often seen as something that can counter our sense of lack and make us feel happy.
In a chapter title "What Would the Buddha Do?" Loy suggests that sexism, racism, nationalism, and militarism are all self-defeating for they are based on dualism and not on the interdependence that is the foundation of reality. He states:
"Such interdependence is not merely an insight to be cultivated on our cushions. A suffering world calls upon us to truly realize interdependence to make it real in the ways we actually live. If we Buddhists do not want to do this or cannot find ways to do this, then Buddhism is not the spiritual path that the world needs today."
The problems we have as individuals are easily matched by the three institutionalized poisons of greed, ill-will, and delusion. Buddhism must address these along with our attention-deficit society, the ecological crisis, genetically modified food, and a national obsession with war. Here is where a socially engaged Buddhism offers viable alternatives to the present day crises which threaten our world.