A Buddhism for Progressives – Preface

Two Traditions

As the son of an activist, I learned when I was young about the need to care for others. It was part of our upbringing to talk about and to think about what was going on in our world with compassion and with a sense of responsibility. Like many other young people who were raised in the 60’s, we received from our parents and from previous generations this precious legacy of the creative struggle for human rights, dignity, and social justice…


I have no doubt that we need this kind of outlook in today’s world, with all it’s strife and division. Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history, and to keep connected to the inspiring, exemplary lives of those who came before us. Doing so, we renew our own strength and our sense of purpose, to continue the work.

In one of the articles that follow, I ask the question, where is the passion for social justice these days? It’s this quality, I think, that makes a person a progressive. These are such needful times, and so, to be a progressive now is a response that’s awake and optimistic as well. Most of all, it is a willingness to be fully engaged, in some form or another.

I learned a bit later in life that just by virtue of being born in this world at this time, we are also heirs to wisdom traditions. For me, Buddhism in particular stands out as having deep insight into the causes of suffering, and the remedy. It is a Wisdom tradition that marks the way to sanity, wholeness, and peace.

I also came to feel that these two – the social justice and the spiritual traditions need aspects of each other to be complete. Their insights should not be kept separate.

From what I can tell, there are two things that Buddhism can offer us now, and they are a world view, and methods that can help us achieve our aims as compassionate people. When these methods work for us, the result is that we have greater resources to bring to the work that we do. The impetus for these essays, then, is that I would like us all to take full advantage of what these traditions offer, and that there is such need.

Each in our own way,
May we continue the work of our loving and powerful ancestors,
and speak and write and act to create the beloved community,
for this and future generations.

With gratitude for friends and allies everywhere,

Jason Espada.
San Francisco,
March 10th, 2018

From A Buddhism for Progressives – Inspiration for Activists