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Rethinking Karma: The Dharma of Social Justice

Jonathan S. Watts, Editor


ISBN 978-974-9511-78-7
2009. 364 pp, 14x21 cm
THB 695

What is a Buddhist response to political oppression and economic exploitation? Does Buddhism encourage passivity and victimization? Can violent perpetrators be brought to justice without anger and retributive punishment? What does Buddhism say—or imply—about collective karma, and social justice?

Rethinking Karma addresses these questions, and many more, through the lens of the Buddhist teachings on karma. Acknowledging that a skewed understanding of karma serves to perpetuate structural and cultural violence, such as sexism, classism, and political oppression, specifically in the Buddhist societies of South and Southeast Asia, the book critically reexamines the teachings on karma as well as important related teachings on equanimity (upekkhā), generosity (dāna), and “merit” (puñña).

The eleven authors featured in this volume are thinker-activists who have been deeply involved in issues of social justice at a grassroots level and speak from their own experience in trying to solve them. For them, these issues are seminal ones requiring deeper contemplation and greater sharing, not only within the Buddhist community at large but among all those who seek to bridge the gaps between our idealization of human harmony, our tendencies toward violent confrontation, and the need for greater social justice.

About the Editor

Jonathan Watts has been working with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) for the last twenty years, first as staff and later as executive board member. He coordinates Think Sangha, a socially engaged Buddhist think tank affiliated with INEB. He presently resides in Kamakura, Japan, where he is writing a book on socially engaged Buddhism in Japan with the International Buddhist Exchange Center (IBEC) and is also involved in spiritual preparation for death issues with the Jodo Shu Research Institute.

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