Author: Matt Williams

  • Right Livelihood in an Unjust Society

    What is Right Livelihood? When doing research for this column, rather to my surprise, I couldn’t find all that much written on Right Livelihood, even though it is part of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is as if most Buddhist thinkers consider the matter relatively straightforward, simply a matter of choosing a job that […]

  • The Paradox of Globalization: An Engaged Buddhist Analysis

    From an engaged Buddhist perspective, globalization involves a seeming paradox. The growth of global telecommunications systems and cheap long distance travel means that we have more opportunities than ever to learn about people distant from us. Geographers such as David Harvey speaks of globalization involving “space-time compression”—that, in practical terms, the world is becoming a […]

  • A Preferential Option for the Poor and Oppressed in Buddhism?

    In the Plum Village tradition, we all embrace the idea of engaged Buddhism as central to our practice. However, we have very diverse ideas about what constitutes skillful means in practicing engaged Buddhism. I have met people who think that simply by practicing loving-kindness meditation for all beings they are helping to make the world […]

  • Practicing with Societal Barriers to Observing the Mindfulness Trainings

    Thay has compared the mindfulness trainings to the North Star—we can use them to guide us, but, just as we will never reach the North Star, we will never fully live up the mindfulness trainings, for the simple reason that we are imperfect beings. But, beyond our own imperfections, there are other reasons we cannot […]

  • Reading the News Mindfully

    I will start with a confession: I am a news junkie, but one who, despite that, tries to read the news mindfully, though admittedly there is something of a contradiction in this. Thay has on a number of occasions encouraged us to read the news no more than once a week, warning that reading it […]

  • Practicing Compassionate Political Speech Through Deep Looking

    Because of its emotionally charged nature, it is difficult to engage in political speech in a mindful, compassionate way. I often ask myself, How do I remain compassionate when criticizing others? Can we criticize others without disparaging or demonizing them, especially when we speak of them perpetuating injustices and other forms of harm to others? […]

  • The Creative Tension Between Fostering Dialogue and Social Justice

    I teach sociology and global studies at the college level, which means that thorny social issues regularly come up in my classroom. As part of observing the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings in the classroom, I try both to foster dialogue between students of different worldviews, encouraging them to understand and respect each other, and also to […]