Peacemakers Finland (PF) is one of the regional Affiliate groups of Zen Peacemakers International operating in Helsinki, Finland in Northern Europe. PF is an egalitarian collective with two key founding members Mikko Rakushin Ijäs and Maija Myōsho Ijäs. Mikko and Maija are also a married couple, who often work together as a team. They also have a ten-year-old boy. Both of them embody the householder zen practice in their everyday lives.
Peacemakers Finland organizes meditations and holds dharma discussions targeted at Finnish activists interested in engaged Buddhist practices. PF has also organized one street retreat in 2017 and two Bearing Witness retreats (2018 and 2019) on the first European concentration camps, which were established in Finland to house tens of thousands of captives after the Civil War in 1918. PF has also been collaborating with the local Lutheran parish also organizing a clown workshop with Moshe Cohen aka Mr. YooWho.
Art projects based on the Three Tenets:
PF organizers Maija Myōsho Ijäs and Mikko Rakushin Ijäs are both active multi-talented artists, who embody the Three Tenets also in their artistic work. In 2019 Maija and Mikko released a music video ”Happiness I Gave Away” which encourages climate activists in their demanding work for ecological healing and for the future of all beings.
Mikko and Maija released a movie in 2018 based on Mikko’s doctoral research for which he studied the indigenous cultures of the Kalahari desert and Northern Mexico. During the filming process, the San people of the Kalahari faced mass transportations away from their ancestral lands and in Mexico, the filming was interrupted by cartel violence among the indigenous Tarahumara people.
Maija Myōsho Ijäs (b. 1974) is a Finnish composer, musician, singer, and vocal coach. Maija holds a Master’s degree from University of Jyväskylä from where she majored in both education theory and music pedagogy (2005). She holds an Estill Figure Professional (EFP) certificate in Estill Voice Model. As a voice teacher, Maija tries to guide her clients to find new ways to embody the physiological vocal knowledge into their everyday lives through practical guidance and promote sustainable vocal health. Finding your own true vocal expression is a liberating and enlightening experience.
Maija has been a professional composer since 1999 composing music for theaters, and for her own productions in Finland. For her professional career as an artist, she still uses her maiden name Maija Kaunismaa.
Maija became involved with Zen practice in 2015 through Helsinki Zen Center, and she has been involved with the ZPI since 2017. Maija has been an Artist-In-Residence at the Fire Lotus Temple in New York in 2016 and at the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA) since 2017 where she frequently visits for work, to give voice lessons, and to participate in retreats and training. Her latest album The Pine House Songs
(2020) was written at ZCLA. The album also contains a recomposed version of the closing verse from ZPO’s liturgy “Gate of Sweet Nectar” titled ”This is Our Life
”. Her teacher Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao is one of the founding teachers of the Zen Peacemaker Order.
Mikko Rakushin Ijäs (b. 1978) is a Finnish visual artist and a researcher of human evolution. Mikko received his Ph.D. in 2017 from Aalto University and was immediately affiliated with Harvard University to continue his research. His research deals with human evolution, particularly the evolution of symbolic culture and how mystical experiences and traditions have been involved in the early evolution of visual arts. Currently, he is working on a new book titled “Unsatisfied Human”, which is focused on how to maneuver in the crossroads of ecological collapse and the rise of artificial intelligence.
Mikko got involved with Zen practice in 2012 through Helsinki Zen Center, but he has been involved with the ZPI since 2016. During this involvement Ijäs has participated in Bearing Witness retreats and Street Retreats and ZPI training in Sweden, Holland, Bosnia, Poland, and the United States. Mikko has also served as a Staff member at ZPI’s Auschwitz-Birkenau retreat since 2018, where he has served as a Council facilitator. He’s also been a retreat photographer and a clown at Auschwitz. Mikko is a student of Belgian Zen teacher Roshi Frank De Waele who is one of the successors of Bernie Glassman Roshi.