There are hundreds of books available today on what is wrong with traditional Asian Buddhism and contemporary Western Buddhism. I have purchased any number of them in order to experience the zeitgeist. And there is much in these books that is of value. Many of them do touch upon very real problems within the Buddhist milieu. But it seems that more or less all of them take externalist, conceptual, and/or ethical-moral approaches to solutions to the problems they point out as if we could change the world by changing ideas. However, in my own humble experience, answers and solutions to existential problems that do not arise from Dharmic realization are, in the end, not answers or solutions at all.
Albert Einstein has said:
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
And it was Gandhi who said:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
It seems to me that these two quotes (from non-Buddhists) succinctly state where the answer or solutions to the problems in traditional and contemporary Buddhism (of the East or West) lie. The Perfect Wisdom and Absolute compassion of Buddha Nature—when this sprouts in the bosom of humanity—brings to life in us all that is worth living. This is ‘Great Practice’ or ‘Great Living’. It is in bringing to life the seed of Buddha Nature within us by remembering the universal availability of Buddha Nature that brings with it (all without egoistic calculation) the Pure Land. We cannot by egoistic striving create a perfect world, for we cannot truly understand the complex motivations of our deluded hearts and minds, nor the complexities of infinite strands of causation. We remain ignorant therefore of both the motivations for our actions and the ultimate results of what we imagine to be our most selfless and humane motivations. When we think that we can legislate, conceptualize or organize our way to a perfect society by changing laws, beliefs, organizational structures and/or practices, we are really just rearranging the tools that our egos will use to do violence to ourselves and others.
In saying this, let me be perfectly clear, I am not encouraging idly sitting by and letting the world disintegrate while abdicating personal responsibility for the development of a just society. I may not encourage a revolution of external society, but I heartily encourage each one of us to allow for a ‘revolution of the basis’ – a turning around of the light of consciousness so that it illumines within. When we have seen the darkness in our own hearts, we can forgive the darkness we find in the hearts of others. And when we have realized the emptiness of ‘our’ self-nature, we will likewise realize that since there is no self … by inference, there is no other and therefore nothing to forgive and neither a forgiver nor a forgiven. Only in such a revolution will the seeds of violence, hatred, and bigotry cease to be sown in the storehouse consciousness. May we each become the change we wish to see in the world by going beyond the level of consciousness that created our individual and collective problems in the first place.
As Gautama Siddhartha Shakyamuni has said:
I reached in experience the nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.
He who experiences the unity of life sees his own self in all beings, and all beings in his own self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
Namu Amida Butsu