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The Wisdom of The Buddhist Masters: Common and Uncommon Sense

What does Buddhism have to say about sickness, poverty, and warfare – or social and political action? Would the wisest, most renowned Buddhist teachers go on the record and reveal their thoughts and perspectives on a wide array of contemporary issues? Presented this query from Watkins editor, Michael Mann, Robert Sachs, author of the popular activist book, The Buddha at War, decided to find out. He created a questionnaire based on the issues that we see around us more and more and are thrust before us in print, on our T.V.s and computers daily, brought it to some of the most esteemed Buddhist teachers and scholars, and interviewed them. They include H.H. Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, Ven. Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally, Ajahn Amaro, Roshi Joan Halifax, Venerable Thubten Chodron, Christopher Titmuss, and Tenzin Robert Thurman. The comments and conclusions of these Buddhist masters and scholars are inspirational…and often surprising. And, very much needed in these times.

Here are the observations of deeply spiritual thinkers on the global problems that confront us today, from the conflict in the Middle East to global warming, from substance abuse to population control. Steeped in meditation, yet widely traveled, these masters have seen human misery and suffering with their own eyes. And, they understand the difference between teaching transcendental wisdom and what it takes to present such wisdom and make it operational in our daily lives. They offer empowering words of wisdom and show us how we can become part of the impetus for change and make a real difference. Most important, these teachers go beyond religious platitudes and truisms, refusing to shy away from thorny, complex issues, coming to politically incorrect conclusions, and sharing ideas contrary to the pacifism so often associated with Buddhism.
(modified text by author from Sterling Publishing promotion)

To listen to Robert talk about some of the insights shared with him by these masters, go to Buddhist Masters Part 1 featured on YouTube.

“Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last when human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. True peace with ourselves and with the world around us can only be achieved through the development of mental peace. The other phenomena mentioned above are similarly interrelated. Thus, for example, we see that a clean environment, wealth or democracy mean little in the face of war, especially nuclear war, and that material development is not sufficient to ensure human happiness.
…we must develop a sense of universal responsibility not only in the geographic sense, but also in respect to the difference issues that confront our planet”
(from the Foreword of The Wisdom of The Buddhist Masters, words from H.H. Dalai Lama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech, 1989)