A student asked the master, ‘What is the fruit of a lifetime of practice?’ The master replied, ‘Responding appropriately.’”

Right now is the most dangerous time ever in human history, according to Noam Chomsky. How can Buddhist teachings and practices help us understand our situation and “respond appropriately” to the interconnected social and ecological crises confronting us today?

Historically, Buddhism developed as a path of personal transformation. In accord with its emphasis on impermanence and insubstantiality, however, Buddhism has shown great flexibility as it spread and interacted with new cultures. Today, Buddhism faces a great challenge as it encounters a secular, consumerist, globalized world that seems to be self-destructing. Many Buddhist teachings seem relevant, but we also need to consider what Buddhists can and perhaps must learn in historical and environmental conditions very different from its premodern origins. What is the goal of our practice? If the three poisons (greed, ill will, delusion) have been institutionalized, what does that mean for the bodhisattva path today?

David R. Loy is especially interested in the conversation between Buddhism and modernity. His books include A New Buddhist Path, Ecodharma: Buddhist teachings for the Ecological Crisis, Nonduality, Lack and Transcendance, A Buddhist History of the West, The Great Awakening, Money Sex War Karma and The World Is Made of Stories. A Zen practitioner for many years, he is qualified as a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition.