Community

Prof. Jan Willis, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Keynote: Buddhism Has Always Been Engaged

Jan Willis declared that “Buddhism has always been engaged because it has always emphasized compassion, and it starts from the principle that everyone is exactly the same, in that all people wish to attain happiness and avoid suffering.”

Willis spoke very poignantly and very powerfully of the samsara of being a young African-American girl in Alabama in the early 1960’s, working with Martin Luther King in Birmingham during the era of bombings and other criminal atrocities committed by white vigilantes against Civil Rights workers. ….read more , ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

Prof. Robert Thurman, Columbia University, NY, NY

Keynote: Enlightenment Can Be Jolly!

“Enlightenment can be jolly!” Thurman said. “Only out of happiness can Socially Engaged Buddhism happen. I want to tell you: pursue the extraordinary and really pump up to be happy.”

Citing the Dalai Lama’s bestselling book The Art of Happiness, he mentioned the consternation initially caused by the title among people who assume that Buddhism only speaks of suffering. “Happiness is nirvana, which is the cessation of suffering,” Thurman emphasized. “Freedom from suffering is bliss.” ….read more of this Blog, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

Panel: Socially Engaged Communities

John Bell, Sarah Weintraub, Clare Carter, Ken Byalin, Alan Senauke

“The Buddha of the future,” said moderator Alan Senauke, speaking at the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism and paraphrasing Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “will be sangha” — that is, community.

In war-torn Colombia, building a socially engaged community can mean helping to support villagers in their work to heal strife and create productive lives, said Sarah Weintraub, executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF).

Socially engaged community also can mean a monastic group that ventures into the world to confront injustices. Clare Carter, a member of the Nipponzan Myojoji Japanese Buddhist Order, has walked on lengthy international pilgrimages to raise awareness of the legacies of slavery and racial oppression, and to demonstrate for peace.

Young people often live in desperate need of community, and Ken Byalin and John Bell spoke of their own inspiring work in developing opportunities for youth.

“The educational system was worse than I thought,” said Byalin, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, speaking of how he came to found the Lavelle Preparatory Charter School. “I was ready for a bigger community.” As a result, the Lavelle Prep School was created to help students who encounter emotional challenges learn how to flourish in a demanding yet nurturing college preparatory program that features small classes, outstanding technological resources, first-rate teachers and a curriculum — and educational community — designed to meet students’ emotional and social needs.

When such needs are met, extraordinary things can happen. John Bell, of YouthBuild USA, spoke movingly of how that organization has helped thousands of young people choose new directions for their lives, through right action — forging peace treaties between gangs, for example — and right livelihood, through projects such as young people building affordable housing within their communities. “Youth are despairing but they want to know their true nature,” Bell said. “They want to make a contribution, to be happy and safe.” ….read the Blog of this panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

Panel: Zen Houses and Haley House: Serving Low-Income Communities

Panel: Zen Houses Establish Service-Based Dharma Center

Symposium Hosts Share Contribution to Engaged Buddhist Practice.

In the Zen Houses panel, I was inspired once again by four leaders whose heart, intelligence and dedicated work have educated me as I’ve worked with them for the past two years. They each approach the Zen House from a different perspective: two as inspirations and models and two as founding directors of more recent endeavors. ….read the report of this panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

Catholic Worker to Buddhist Entrepreneur

Kathe McKenna’s Haley House Serves as Model for Zen Houses

After completing seminary, Kanji returned to his home town in rural Pennsylvania, where he networked and laid infrastructure for Zen House programs including green jobs, education and sustainable agriculture. He did this work in a region where laid-off workers seek double shifts at Wal-mart, where resntful war veterans without health insurance are too ashamed to ask for help and where drugs and violence plague the lives of youth…..read the report of this panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

From Rural Poverty to Green Buddhism

Appalachian Zen House Breaks Cycle of Hopelessness

In the Zen Houses panel, I was inspired once again by four leaders whose heart, intelligence and dedicated work have educated me as I’ve worked with them for the past two years. They each approach the Zen House from a different perspective: two as inspirations and models and two as founding directors of more recent endeavors. ….read the report of this panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings

Zen Peacemakers Build Multi-Class Community

Montague Farm Zen House has Deep Local Roots

Karen explained how the stone soup is an important practice and symbol of the Montague Farm Café. Every week, Café participants are invited to contribute to a pot with a stone in it. Karen creates as open and alive of a container as she can, responding to others’ ideas and making the best meal possible out of the ingredients available. ….read the report of this panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 2 Proceedings