‘Buddha’s Politics in the 21st Century’ is subject of library lecture series

BRATTLEBORO — What if the Buddhist values of loving-kindness and compassion were at the heart of a political philosophy, what we might call a “Politics of Compassion” in 21st-century America?

Explore the Buddha's world, his politics, and what an “Engaged Buddhism” looks like in the U.S. today through a series of three monthly Wednesday evening programs with the Rev. Dr. Thomas Redden, a professor emeritus of political science and history at Southern Vermont College and Marlboro College and an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, Zen Peacemaker Order.

• The Buddha's World: Oct. 19. The historic Buddha lived at a time of dramatic change technologically, economically, socially, and politically. Redden will examine those changes and how the Buddha's teachings challenged the traditional Brahmanism of his day and resonated with his many followers.

• The Buddha as Political Actor: Nov. 16. As the leader of a religious community numbering in the thousands in Eastern India, the Buddha needed to maintain good relations with the local kings and communities in order to thrive in a very political and often violent environment. As a result, he developed distinctive leadership styles toward his followers as well as the local rulers. Above all, he was pragmatic, nondogmatic, and flexible.

• Engaged Buddhism and American Politics Today: Dec. 21. With the global climate crisis and other daunting political issues clearly in their sight, a variety of leading “Engaged Buddhists,” such as the Dalai Lama, argue that our search for happiness through consumerism and naked self-interest is leading us down a path of self-destruction. Engaged Buddhism works toward personal and social transformation with the aspiration of creating societies based on compassion and justice.

The lectures will be held in the Main Reading Room at 7 p.m. Each presentation will be preceded by a short period of Zen meditation in the Community Meeting Room from 6:15 to 6:40 p.m. for those interested. Beginners are welcome to arrive at 6 p.m. for a brief introduction.

The program is free and open to the public. The venue, 224 Main Street in Brattleboro, is accessible to people in wheelchairs. For more information visit brookslibraryvt.org or call 802-254-5290, ext. 1201.

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