In the twenty-first century, people live in a technologically-advanced world. Everything is done with a touch of a button. Perhaps, the saying that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” is true because the more free time man has, the more time he spends on whining about how miserable life is and how only a new gadget or material possession could make him feel better. Conspicuous consumption is the name of the game. And consumerism is the rule.
This paper shall discuss the concepts of consumerism from the perspective of Engaged Buddhism and their interaction in society, how Engaged Buddhism responds to tide of consumerism. More specifically, Engaged Buddhism responds to consumerism with meditation and mindful living coupled with acts of compassion and generosity.
Engaged Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion. It follows all the teachings of Buddha, the Enlightened One; it practices all the traditions and rites of the Buddhist religion. But what makes it different is the fact that it puts a premium on the value of active compassion, that is, meditation coupled with action. However, when the founder himself is asked, he contends that “Engaged Buddhism is just Buddhism” (Malkin 1).
This movement was established in the middle of the 20th century by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk who, surrounded with pain and desperation during the Vietnam War, realized and decided that, “Buddhism has to do with your daily life, with your suffering and with the suffering of the people around you” (Malkin 1). ...
Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on—not only in your body and in your feelings, but all around you,” (Malkin 1). Thus, Engaged Buddhism was born. Inspired by the deep desire to serve the community, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth for Social Services where the students learned not only religion but most importantly compassion. They were taught to put their beliefs into actions by working to help ease the suffering of the people (Queen 38). As the group grew larger, Engaged Buddhism became not just a religious movement but also a social force – a flicker of light that beacons all those who are in the darkness of pain, despair and uncertainty. Armed with pure courage and determination to share the values of love and compassion to his fellowmen, Thich Nhat Hanh planted the seeds of Engaged Buddhism on the unforgiving and hostile bloodstained soil of his motherland. True enough, as an affirmation to his extraordinary efforts, religious and layman communities had soon adapted to the art of mindful living and mindfulness to the Buddhist principles that gives to every individual the respect and dignity he deserves as a human being (Queen 54). The Zen monk’s extraordinary courage and compassion sent ripples of hope across the country and even to the other side of the Pacific Ocean. In recognition, no less than Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him to the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 (Malkin 1). Consumerism In the society that we know today, there is always the need to have more and to possess the latest, best and coolest. Mass media makes sure of that. The advertising sector has mastered the art of deception – making every consumer think that he needs whatever is pushed in his mind through