Looking Back at the Year in Socially Engaged Buddhism
Buddhist monks praying for peace in Thailand, May 2010
[The original version of this post appeared on The Jizo Chronicles, Dec 31, 2010]
This is a good time to look back at whatâ€™s been going on in the world of socially engaged Buddhism in 2010. (To get an idea of whatâ€™s ahead for 2011, look at the Calendar of Events from The Jizo Chronicles.)
Itâ€™s been quite a year, actually.
- Two of the pioneer socially engaged Buddhist organizations, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and Zen Peacemakers, were quite active. Sarah Weintraub stepped into the role of executive director at BPF and that organizationâ€™s Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) program is being revived. In August, the Zen Peacemakers hosted the Symposium for Western Engaged Buddhism in Montague, MA, featuring (among others) Roshi Joan Halifax, Paula Green, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Robert Thurman, and Fleet Maull.
- The Tzu Chi Foundation, which has also been around for a long time (since 1966), continued to provide help when it was needed most, in the wake of the January earthquake in Haiti.
- Newer organizations like the Interdependence Project, Buddhist Global Relief, and the Clear View Project are up to some interesting things. like IDPâ€™s fairly bold step into the New York political arena and Bhikkhu Bodhiâ€™s visit to the White House on behalf of Buddhist Global Relief.
- In the blogosphere, Hozan Alan Senauke just started the new Clear View blog, and other bloggers featuring socially engaged Buddhist content include Danny Fisher, Katie Loncke, Nathan of Dangerous Harvests, and Nella Lou of Smiling Buddhist Cabaret.
- By the way, the best book on socially engaged Buddhism this year, for my money, is Alanâ€™s The Bodhisattvaâ€™s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhismâ€™s Front Lines.
- On the international scene, the biggest news without a doubt was the November release of Burmaâ€™s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
- This was the year we lost Robert Aitken Roshi, fierce and dear Zen teacher, founder of the Diamond Sangha, and co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
- There were Buddhist chaplains in the Gulf after the oil spill, Buddhist peacemakers amidst the violent uprisings in Thailand, Buddhist activists sitting on the streets of San Francisco, Buddhists bearing witness in Auschwitz and Rwanda, and Buddhist monks and nuns walking for a nuclear-free future.
- Mindfulness and meditation continue to find applications in all kinds of interesting realms, from technology (like the first-ever Wisdom 2.0 conference) and education. 84,000 dharma doors indeed.
In my own life, I continue to be blessed with being in such a close relationship with Roshi Joan Halifax and Upaya Zen Center, and Upayaâ€™s chaplaincy program. I donâ€™t have to go more than a few dozen steps from my front door to be able to sit in the beautiful zendo there, and to hear teachings from Â Joanna Macy, Fleet Maull, Ouyporn Khuankaew, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Sharon Salzberg, Kaz Tanahashi, Norman Fischer, and Father John Dear (all visited Upaya this past year). Iâ€™ve also appreciated my long-distance dharma relationship with Shosan Victoria Austin of the San Francisco Zen Center and the sangha there.
My practice continues to deepen and I am ever more aware of the subtle power of the dharma to transform suffering into joy. As the old year comes to a close and the new one begins, I wish you and your loved ones great peace, great equanimity, and great compassion.
Iâ€™m sure I missed a lot in the above recounting. Please let me know your experience and memories of engaged dharma practice this past yearâ€¦ leave a comment below.
May 12, 2014
April 09, 2014
April 08, 2014