Roots and Challenges

Matthieu Ricard, Karuna-Shechen Founding Director

Keynote: You Just Need To Do It

“Compassion without action is just sterile,” keynote speaker Mathieu Ricard told a packed hall at the Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism on Tuesday, August 10. “When people see suffering in the street and say, ‘It’s not my job,’ I don’t see that. If something comes your way, engage in compassionate action.” ….read more of this Blog, ….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings

Eve Marko and Bernie Glassman

Eve Marko: History of Organic Farming and Political Protest Contextualize Symposium Setting at Montague Farm

Sensei Eve introduced and contextualized the Montague, MA campus on which the first major Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism is taking place. She discussed the campus’ role as the headquarters of the international 70-affiliate Zen Peacemakers Sangha and also as a multi-faith practice center. Before it became the home of the Zen Peacemakers, the campus was a socially engaged commune. ….read more of this Blog, ….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings

Bernie Glassman: Hopes for Action and Deals to arise from Symposium

Bernie explained that when he first organized the Symposium, he wanted to honor the pioneers, give them chance to get together, see each other, share and network. It would be a chance to learn new things and serve as sort of job and volunteer fair. The focus is on taking action and doing something! ….read more of this Blog, ….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings

Moderator: Christopher Queen

Panelists: Bhikkhu Bodhi, Sallie King, David Loy

Christopher Queen: Introduction to Roots of Socially Engaged Buddhism

Introducing the Roots of Socially Engaged Buddhism panel, Chris Queen stated that amazingly, there are conservative practitioners who believe that changing the mind is all that matters. However, when he was visiting formerly untouchable converts to Buddhism who were victims of other people’s greed, anger and ignorance, facing discrimination, beatings and murder in India, it was clear that people suffer as a result of injustice as well. ….read the report of this talk … read Fleet Maull’s response, explaining a Buddhist basis for justice….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings

Bhikku Bodhi: Cannonical Roots of Engaged Buddhism

Chris Queen asked Bikkhu Bodhi to speak on the Canonical roots of engaged Buddhism. Bikkhu Bodhi explained that many see Buddhism as a means of world-renouncing liberation, detachment and personal inward meditation. Bikkhu Bodhi approached this task from the question of ‘What is the function of a Buddha?’, according to text. ….read the report of this talk.

Sallie King: Justice is not an Appropriate Concept for Buddhists

Sallie King offered a Buddhist critique of popular conceptions of justice based on her experience at an international, interfaith peace council, where leaders of world religions gathered to address conflict. ….read the report of this talk.

David Loy: Institutionalized Delusion

David Loy asked ‘What was Buddha trying to achieve when he started teaching?’ He asked whether we can explore this question without projecting our modern understanding of private/public sphere separation, based on the Protestant Reformation. ….read the report of this talk.

….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings

Moderator: Bernie Glassman

Panelists: Bill Aiken, Mirabai Bush, Alan Senauke

Following are some of the challenges expressed by participants of this panel:

1. To practice social engagement as a Buddhist without being “drummed out of Buddhism” and accused of “staining the Dharma” (Bernie Glassman).

Glassman mentioned that such accusations had been leveled at him by peers in his early days as a pioneer of socially engaged Buddhism.

2. To sustain a radical and internationalist Dharma vision (Alan Senauke).

According to Senauke, the Buddha’s original vision was a politically radical, egalitarian one, which continues to be embodied by socially engaged Asian Buddhists today, such as Thich Nhat Hanh or the untouchables in India who engage in mass conversions to Buddhism in order to defy the restrictions of caste.

3. To have contemplative and mindfulness practices accepted by our broader society (Mirabai Bush).

Bush emphasized that the acceptance of such practices is better than it was 15 years ago, but resistance remains. She mentioned specifically universities, where mindfulness practice often is seen as an obstacle to critical thinking.

4. To propagate a sense of hope (Bill Aiken).

Aiken also stressed the need to find an issue that “people of faith” – not only Buddhists – can coalesce around, and suggested that the environment could be such an issue. “Buddhists shouldn’t exist in a sealed vacuum apart from society,” he asserted. “We should cultivate our inner life, then decide what to do with it.

….read the report of this Panel, ….Buy DVD of Day 1 Proceedings