How Buddhist Practice Grounds Social Action in a Secular World

Many people today who are deeply concerned about the world’s suffering inhabit a secularized worldview in which it is assumed that religious understandings of salvation or spiritual liberation are irrelevant to the material needs and ways of thinking prevalent in our time.  Such people, of course, do not see religious disciplines as a resource to help them respond to the suffering. And although moral teachings of mainstream Western religious traditions today continue to inspire their faithful to serve others in need, such traditions have largely lost touch with contemplative disciplines that were earlier maintained in monastic institutions.  As many members of mainstream religions themselves report, the modern emphasis on service to others in their churches and synagogues can mask a lack of spiritual grounding necessary for such service to realize its fuller potential to empower, heal and liberate both those who serve others and those served by them.

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