Susan Moon is the editor of this top-drawer collection of essays on engaged Buddhism taken from the pages of Turning Wheel: The Journal of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Faced with huge problems in a suffering world filled with hate and violence, we can all respond by doing spiritual practices in our daily lives. As Joanna Macy states in the foreword: "See the big picture: a whole society in travail. In our corporate profit-driven, consumer society, the roots of suffering greed, hatred, and delusion have taken powerful, institutionalized forms. We share collective karma, and, to the extent that we recognize it, we begin to change it. As these spiritual friends have helped me see, we are fully capable of accepting responsibility for our common condition and in ways that don't cripple us with guilt, but empower us to act. For in this dance of dependent co-arising, every thought, word, and deed has ripple effects we can barely perceive. Therefore, to live in genuine awareness of our mutual belonging in the web of life is, in itself, good, strong medicine for the healing of our world."
The essays in this paperback help us to see the big picture in three sections: Practicing in the Home and in the Heart; Taking the Practice into the World; and Food for Thought. Two of the best pieces are on prisons: "Seeking Evil, Finding Only Good" by Melody Ermachild Chavis and "Imagine Living In Your Bathroom" by Diana Lion. Other soulful pieces are Joanna Macy on Buddhist resources for despair, Norman Fischer on forgiveness, Thich Nhat Hanh on peace, and Jack Kornfield on caring for home. As Robert Aitken puts it: "The Buddha did not remain under the bodhi tree, and neither does Mother Teresa neglect her prayers. Prajna and upaya, wisdom and compassion these are the 'head and tail' of religious practice. Stagnation or burnout are the negative results of neglecting one end or the other."
These Buddhists move off the meditation cushion with ease and apply what they've learned there to injustice, war, poverty, homelessness, prison work, and political aggression.