Toward a Buddhist Social Theory

January 25, 2007

A Talk by Author David Loy

David Loy gave this talk in the Great Hall at the Centre for Peace on Saturday, February 24th at 7:00pm.

If you want to, you still can open a PDF poster for this event in a new window: click here.

Please also see comments.

Centre for Peace • Saturday, February 24 • 7:00pm

David Loy – poster portrait (cropped)The world is set on a perilous course: global climate change has become impossible to ignore; the income gap grows between the richest and poorest segments in our society, at the same time as the gap between the world’s richest and poorest nations; the world’s most powerful nation bombs others in its quest for more security. These problems demand that we find an explanation for their complexity and interrelationship.

David Loy attempts such an explanation by extending the Buddhist teaching of sunyata to look at the ways that we try to fill up the “nothingness” that haunts us individually and collectively. He examines how our actions to avoid/compensate for our nothingness contribute to current social problems and ecological crises. Highlighting what he describes as the ‘Three Institutionalized Poisons (collective greed, collective ill will, collective delusion)’, David’s ideas provide a useful framework for creating social theory from a Buddhist perspective.

David R. Loy is Besl Professor of ethics/religion and society at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is primarily in comparative philosophy and religion, particularly exploring the relevance of Buddhism for modern Western thought. In addition to papers in various journals, he is the author of Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (1988), Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism and Buddhism (1996), A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack (2002), The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory (2003), and, with Linda Goodhew, The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons: Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy (2004). A student of Zen for many years, he is qualified as a teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage.

1825 West 16th Avenue • Saturday, February 24 • 7:00pm

Tickets $12 • $6 for un(der)employed

No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

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6 Responses to “Toward a Buddhist Social Theory”


  1. Thanks to everyone who came to this very full house. (No one was turned away.) Thanks to those who contributed to the discussion. Our apologies to those who wanted to get involved in the discussion but couldn’t – because we ran out of time.

    And, of course, thanks from all of us there to David Loy for an evening that surely informed and inspired everyone present.


  2. Please, everyone, feel free to leave your own comments here, and use your comment to connect with another action if you can. Kelty already did this by sending us this message.

  3. George Says:

    For more David Loy, try this:

    david loy site:www.bpf.org – Google Search.

    (with thanks to Viki via Brenda)

  4. Anne Says:

    Just wanted to say that I am really glad that I attended this talk. I found the linking of greed, ill will and delusion with our economic system, military and media very insightful and also really appreciated the discussion. Really liked what I understood/heard in relation to personal transformation being incomplete without addressing collective ego issues. Much to reflect on! Reflecting on the comment that as in our personal path, it takes time to learn to apply skills and tools appropriately in buddhist informed social action. Building bridges and having all players at the table stood out for me as well. thanks, Anne


  5. We plan to spend some or all of our next meeting developing the themes presented at this event, and seeing how we can integrate them into our lives and into what we do as a BPF chapter. If you want to join us in this activity, please let us know, so we can make sure that we can accommodate everyone who would like to come to this meeting on March 25.

    Meanwhile, please use this space to comment further on what you already may have said at the event, as well as to introduce thoughts that you did not express at the time.

    And do, please, contact us if there is even a slight chance that you can come along on March 25. Then we can make a call on likely numbers and decide where to meet based on that. If you need our contact information, leave a comment on the ‘About’ page. Thank you.

  6. Israel Says:

    I have finished to read The Great Awakening. and I think it’s a really good book for academics and people who are interested in a kind place to live.
    Buddhism is in many ways a revolution, from inside to this world.
    Now I’m reading Money, Sex, War, Karma.
    Thanks to David Loy for this important work about buddhist theory.
    Thank you


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