Apramāda

Buddhist perspectives on society and culture

Apramāda

Buddhist perspectives on
society and culture

Celebrating three years of Apramada

Over three years ago, a group of friends and I came together, united by shared interests and a common concern. We had something significant on our minds. Our animated discussions led to the aspiration of launching an online periodical — the very one you are reading now. Thanks to you, dear reader, and with gratitude towards our contributors and authors, we have relished this journey and remain as committed as when we founded Apramada in 2021. But what inspired and prompted this project?

As dedicated Buddhist practitioners, we take the role of the mind seriously, particularly the human tendency to cling to views and assumptions. These often do not assist us on the path to liberation but instead can entrap us. The necessity to scrutinise our views and expose them to the light is encapsulated in the first limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, ‘right view’ (in Pali, sammā-ditthi). This is also echoed in the last of the Ten Precepts (kammapatha) — to abstain from false views, or in its positive form: ‘transforming ignorance into wisdom, I purify my mind’.

Our own teacher, Sangharakshita, who founded the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community, placed a strong emphasis on the development of right view — and ultimately, no-view.* His legacy is a testament to this, consistently challenging miccha-ditthi — the Pali term for false or wrong views, which include all sorts of misconceived beliefs, dogmas, and theories. Sangharakshita often ventured beyond merely illuminating the subtle spiritual miccha-ditthi that befall us. He dared to challenge cultural orthodoxies and popular views, even those considered unquestionable.

Sangharakshita, when presenting the Ten Precepts to his Order in 1984, addressed this theme when he spoke of the Tenth Precept:

In the world of today, Wisdom is a rare and precious thing, and much could be said about the false views that assail us from every side, particularly as a result of the dominance of the media of so-called mass communication…

If we want even to begin to observe the Tenth Precept under the present very difficult circumstances, we must do at least three things:

(a) We must become more acutely aware of the extent to which our thinking, and the expression of our thinking, is influenced by the false views by which we have been surrounded since birth.

(b) We must realise not only that false views are the product of unskilful mental states but also that, so long as they are not definitively abandoned, they actually reinforce the unskilful mental states which produce them, thus doubly obstructing the path to enlightenment.

(c) We must resolve that whenever … we discuss the Dharma itself, we should do so in terms of Right Views – if possible, in terms of Wisdom – and not in terms of any of the false views which are currently fashionable in the outside world.

It is this aspect of Sangharakshita’s mission in particular that the Apramada team wishes to preserve. We believe, as he did, that unexamined beliefs in the realms of culture, politics, and psychology are ultimately impediments to spiritual progress. Thus, for the sake of preserving the Dharma, for the sake of our cultures, and for the sake of our own practice, we offer Apramada, modest and imperfect as it is.

If you share our aspirations, then come aboard. Help us by reading and engaging with the articles, helping us extend our readership, and contributing to the articles. Help us all become exemplars of the Tenth Precept—’Transforming ignorance into wisdom, we purify our minds.’

* Correction: a reference to ‘Perfect Vision’ in an earlier version of this article has been removed at this point on 16/5/2024 . Although Sangharakshita sometimes translated samma ditthi as ‘Perfect Vision’, he drew a distinction between this and ‘right view’, with the former referring to inner realisation of truths that are comprehended only intellectually in the latter case.

Achara

A Chartered Engineer by background, Achara's first love is uncovering ‘how things work’. This explains his thrill on discovering the Dharma, becoming especially intrigued by the law of conditioned co-production. He recently founded an agency specialising in obtaining high quality data.

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