David Loy: A Public Talk in Melbourne 2019

Personal and Social Transformation in Critical Times.

In collaboration with Sydney Insight Meditators and the Melbourne Zen Group, The Contemplary is delighted to be bringing David Loy to Australia in 2019. David is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. His main research interest is the dialogue between Buddhism and modernity, especially the social implications of Buddhist teachings. Bringing Buddhist insight to the analysis and interpretation of societal and institutional dynamics, David’s work has been seminal. He has articulated the idea of institutionalised greed, hatred and delusion and has helped develop a modern Buddhist engagement with our collective contemporary suffering.

David is a prolific author, whose essays and books have been translated into many languages. His articles appear regularly in the pages of major journals such as Tikkun and Buddhist magazines including TricycleTurning Wheel and Buddhadharma. Many of his writings, as well as audio and video talks and interviews, are available on his website. He is also on the advisory boards of Buddhist Global Relief, the Clear View ProjectZen Peacemakers, and the Ernest Becker Foundation.

David will be in Melbourne to deliver this free public talk and two one-day workshops. If you would like to find out more about the workshops and register you can do so here. Details about the talk appear below:

The Talk – Personal and Social Transformation in Critical Times.

Climate breakdown, species extinction, a dysfunctional political and economic system with a growing gap between rich and poor — what does that have to do with Buddhism? The Buddhist path is not about qualifying for heaven but living in a different way here and now. This supplements nicely the customary Western focus on social justice. As Gary Snyder put it, “The mercy of the West has been social revolution. The mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both.” Does the Buddhist tradition offer a way to bring these two types of transformation together in a new model of activism connecting inner and outer practice?

The bodhisattva path provides the archetype we need. Wisdom and compassion are its two wings: “Wisdom says I am nothing. Love says that I am everything. Between these two my life turns” (Nisargadatta). Wisdom is realizing that there is no “me” separate from the rest of the world, and compassion is putting that realization into practice. Contemplative practices deconstruct and reconstruct our sense of self, in service of social and ecological engagement. Cultivating equanimity and “don’t know mind” supports what is most powerful about spiritual activism: non-attachment to the results of our actions. We undertake to do the very best we can, not knowing what the consequences will be—not knowing if our efforts will make any difference whatsoever. And that is okay, because they are our gift to each other and to the earth.


After David’s talk there will be some time for questions and answers.