The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory [NOOK Book]


The most essential insight that Buddhism offers is that all our individual suffering arises from three and only three sources, known in Buddhism as the three poisons: greed, ill-will, and delusion. In The Great Awakening, scholar and Zen teacher David Loy examines how these three poisons, embodied in society's institutions, lie at the root of all social maladies as well. The teachings of Buddhism present a way that the individual can counteract these to alleviate personal suffering, and in the The Great Awakening...
See more details below
The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99 price


The most essential insight that Buddhism offers is that all our individual suffering arises from three and only three sources, known in Buddhism as the three poisons: greed, ill-will, and delusion. In The Great Awakening, scholar and Zen teacher David Loy examines how these three poisons, embodied in society's institutions, lie at the root of all social maladies as well. The teachings of Buddhism present a way that the individual can counteract these to alleviate personal suffering, and in the The Great Awakening Loy boldly examines how these teachings can be applied to institutions and even whole cultures for the alleviation of suffering on a collective level.

This book will help both Buddhists and non-Buddhists to realize the social importance of Buddhist teachings, while providing a theoretical framework for socially engaged members of society to apply their spiritual principles to collective social issues. The Great Awakening shows how Buddhism can help our postmodern world develop liberative possibilities otherwise obscured by the anti-religious bias of so much contemporary social theory.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kalle Lasn
"Now that I'm growing old, I look for deeper meaning everywhere. Loy's book sure gave me some--not only on that personal how-to-live-my-life level, but also in the universal realm of what's-this-all-about."
Melvin McLeod
"A groundbreaking book from an original thinker."
The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism Turning Wheel
"As the Buddhist Peace Fellowship Senior Advisor Alan Senauke once wrote, 'We need a critical understanding of interbeing as detailed and various as the maps of individual consciousness we use in our spiritual practices.' In The Great Awakening, David Loy has endeavored to sketch just such a map. (And Ken Jones's The New Social Face of Buddhism provides a different but complementary perspective for our journey.) Loy's book shows how a Buddhist perspective can help contribute to a fuller understanding of many distinctly modern issues, including globalization, terrorism, biotechnology, and the ecological crisis. Each of his chapters offers many insights. This book will undoubtedly become an important marker on the path of engaged Buddhism."
Inquiring Mind
"An intelligent, wide-reaching, provocative book."
Professor Christopher S. Queen
"In this daring work, David Loy applies his theory of a Buddhist psychology of 'lack'--the human experience of incompleteness and craving--to a dazzling array of social problems in the world today, including economic injustice and political tyranny, war and terrorism after 9/11, and the destruction of our natural environment. In so doing, he exemplifies the rise of socially engaged Buddhism and this new vehicle of spiritual practice."
Ken Jones
"Loy extends our understanding of Buddha's teachings by showing how the three poisons of greed, ill-will, and delusion--the sources of all individual suffering--become socially embedded and supercharged in issues ranging from the 'War against Evil' to the reformation of dangerous criminals. Sophisticated theories like the ones Loy presents here are an urgent requirement if socially engaged Buddhism is to reach its full potential."
"With fruitful results... Loy shows that Buddhist social theory is neither wishful thinking nor a mechanical exercise in trying to match past teachings to present problems... The Great Awakening is arguably the most extensive response to 9/11 published to date. Timely... a formidable critique of Western social thought."
The Ernest Becker Foundation
"Loy joins a growing movement of Buddhist figures, such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, who apply Buddhist principles to the large issues of the contemporary world. He proves to be a most creative and able communicator. Loy suggests that Buddhist theory and practice leads to the breakdown of the false dualism of self and other, resulting in a motivational sense of communion with those in need and a truly grounded motivation for engagement in building a world in which all people are treated such as oneself would want to be treated. Central to Loy's presentation is an analysis of social Dukkha (longing, desire, suffering) which is the source of human discontent. Social, political and economic institutions and arrangements hold out the promise of ending this discontent, yet fail to do so because, at best, they address only the symptoms of such suffering. The injustice and inequality inherent in such systems actually increase social suffering... One of the most powerful aspects of this book is that Loy's critical eye is not directed only outward, but also toward a frank discussion of the deformations of these principles in traditionally Buddhist societies. Loy is particularly sharp in his criticism of the Zen Samurai (warrior) tradition, so popular in martial arts circles... Loy has written a very important and readable book that deserves wide attention from all who are concerned with the application of spiritual teachings and practices to social theory and social activism."
Eastern Horizon
"There have been many attempts to understand modern social theory from a Buddhist perspective, but they have not been satisfactory because they were either written by scholars well versed in Buddhist teachings but not with the outside world, or vice versa. Loy, however, seems to bring together an deep understanding of both. More importantly, he displays a sympathetic attitude to both Theravada and Mahayana (as well as Taoist) teachings which gives this book a transcendental relevance. Loy argues that while Buddhism lacks an intrinsic social theory, its teachings do have important economic (and therefore political and social) implications that can help us respond to the New World Order."
Green Living
"Can we create policies that diminish or inhibit our negative tendencies and encourage the positive? David Loy, Zen teacher, social activist, and professor, skillfully entertains such issues, and offers ways of seeing that can help us make saner policies and recognize the bias in our institutions. The wisdom in this book's pages deserves a wide audience."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861718634
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 827,432
  • File size: 366 KB

Meet the Author

David R. Loy's previous books include the acclaimed Money, Sex, War, Karma, The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory, and The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons, a finalist for the 2006 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award. He was the Besl Professor of Ethics/Religion and Society at Cincinnati's Xavier University.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1 Buddhist Social Theory? 1
2 Buddhism and Poverty 53
3 Pave the Planet or Wear Shoes? 73
4 Can Corporations Become Enlightened? 91
5 The Nonduality of Good and Evil: Buddhist Reflections on the New Holy War 103
6 How to Reform a Serial Killer 121
7 Zen and the Art of War 143
8 Remaking Ourselves: On the Duality between Nature and Technology 157
9 Loving the World As Our Own Body: The Nondualist Ethics of Taoism, Buddhism, and Deep Ecology 171
Afterword: A Nondual Social Theory 195
Notes 199
Bibliography 207
Index 213
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)