A Yearning of the Heart: Spirituality and Politics

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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Abstract

This text is a personal account of some of my experiences as an activist within the global justice movement and also as a Buddhist practitioner, and how these two ways of striving for human emancipation interlink and mutually reinforce each other. Using examples from the Swedish Attac movement and the EU summit mobilisations in Gothenburg in 2001, the text argues that social movement activism is often existentially challenging, in that its participants are made aware of their inability to live up to their own ideals of equality, inclusion, justice and dignity. Many activists experience a kind of deep, existential disappointment with themselves and their organisations, which makes it hard to sustain engagement, especially since most movements do not have a language for or a culture of speaking about these processes. The text shares experiences of using teachings and practices of teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Chögyam Trungpa and Pema Chödrön in order to understand and integrate such disappointment and sustain engagement.

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