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Support the Compassionate Earth Walk

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Hi everyone,

I am traveling through Thailand this month, on my way to Mae Rim to help out with the first-ever Buddhist Education for Social Transformation training. I am excited to be here, and grateful for the support I received from a number of you to make this trip! I’ll post some missives here during July to let you know how it’s going.

And a quick announcement while I’m on the road… just wanted to highlight this good cause that the Buddhist Peace Fellowship is currently fundraising for. There’s only one more week to donate, if this inspires you (the campaign closes on July 17). I’m going to contribute something… I hope you’ll join me!

For full information and to make a donation, see:  http://www.razoo.com/story/Bpf-Joins-Compassionate-Earth-Walk

Here’s an excerpt from that page:

The Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) has been called “game over for climate change.”

Already the massive corporate extraction of tar sands and crude bitumen from Alberta, Canada (slated to be glugged through KXL to oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, for predominantly foreign export), is poisoning First Nations territories.

As Buddhists, we seek to join the ongoing resistance and stand up against this carbon monster, even as we acknowledge the real economic concerns that may cause disagreement in affected communities — some favoring pipelines, some opposing them.

Would you like to see more Buddhists bring compassionate confrontation to this movement? Please support and share!

  • 90% of funding supports Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) organizing in Alberta.
  • 10% supports the Compassionate Earth Walk.

Enacting BPF’s first step on the path to a KXL-free world, photographer and Buddhist aneeta mitha is joining the two-day Tar Sands Healing Walk, followed by the Compassionate Earth Walk for its first three days in Alberta, Canada.

Organized by Cree and Dene First Nations and Metis, including people of the ACFN, the Healing Walk bears witness to the ongoing destruction wreaked by tar sands, and calls for healing of the land. Led by Zen priest Shodo Spring, the full Compassionate Earth Walk is a 3-month pilgrimage tracing the proposed route of the pipeline into the U.S. and through the Great Plains.

Action Alert: Join with Other Buddhists to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

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There’s a lot brewing around resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline. In the last post here on TJC, Zen priest Shodo Spring wrote about her vision and plan to organize a “Compassionate Earth Walk” along the route of the proposed pipeline.

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship has organized an awesome phone conference tomorrow (Sunday), April 28, at 5 pm PST to give dharma activists a chance to learn about ways to engage with this issue at a direct level. BPF directors Katie Loncke and Dawn Haney ask:

What will be the role of Buddhists in this struggle?  What can we do to take direct action in defense of the earth, and in deep solidarity with those most impacted by the threat of the pipeline?  As Diné native organizer Firewolf Bizahaloni-Wong puts it, what’s needed are not only allies, but “accomplices.”

 

Shodo Spring will be on the call, as well as Diana Pei Wu and Jack Downey of The Ruckus Society (an organization of trainers in nonviolent direct action). Find out more about the call and watch a video with Katie and Dawn here.

HOW TO JOIN THE CALL

If you’re already a BPF member, you should have received an email message with call details. If you’re not a member but want to join so that you can access this call, visit this page. Members who can’t make the live call will receive a recording, and through BPF there will be opportunities to network with people in your area to continue the conversation and make plans.

 

 

A Place for Political Buddhists … The System Stinks!

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“Imagine thousands of people skilled in both organizing and Buddhism,
out in the world working to transform it in the ways we need most.
All with the compassion and wisdom practices that lie at the heart of Buddhism.”
~Katie Loncke

 

Are you a Buddhist who thinks that talking politics and taking action are an essential part of your dharma practice?

If not, you can stop reading right now.

But if you are, there’s a fantastic new project in the works from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship that you’ll love.

BPF has a special place in my heart — I worked there from 1999 – 2002 as the associate editor of Turning Wheel magazine, served on their board from 2003 – 2004, and then was invited back to serve as executive director from 2004 – 2007. While the structure and staffing of the organization have changed a great deal since then, the mission remains the same:  to serve as a catalyst for socially engaged Buddhism and to cultivate compassionate action.

Now, the dynamic new collaborative leadership of BPF, embodied by co-directors Katie Loncke and Dawn Haney, are creating “The System Stinks” (inspired by one of Robert Aitken Roshi’s favorite phrases). This will be a 12-month dialogue and crowdsourced curriculum, hosted online,  with options to participate by phone and in face-to-face, self-organized local study groups.

The “System Stinks” will create space and opportunities to explore themes like:

  • Getting Real About Nonviolence
  • Theft of Land, Theft of Culture
  • The Lies That Build Empire
  • Gender Freedom
  • Decolonizing Our Sanghas

Katie and Dawn write, “As Buddhists who care about politics, we need to find each other, learn about one another, and start to discover what role engaged and political Buddhists can play in today’s world.”

You can help make this initiative a reality by donating to BPF’s Indiegogo campaign. Some of the great perks for doing so include

  • A selection of 3 Engaged Buddhist Art postcards featuring exquisite original art by Hozan Alan Senauke, Roshi Joan Halifax, Aneeta Mitha, and Nopadon Wongpakdee.
  • The System Stinks curriculum + 12 postcards + a beautiful mug featuring the classic Buddhist Peace Fellowship logo.
  • An exclusive hour-long group phone call with an engaged Buddhist teacher: Joanna Macy, Bhante Buddharakkhita, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Alan Senauke.

So give our friends at BPF a hand and help be part of creating a very innovative practice/study/action opportunity for engaged Buddhists worldwide. The Indiegogo campaign ends on November 15th, so check it out soon!

And a special bonus: For the next week, everyone who contributes to BPF’s campaign at $30 or more will be entered to win one of 10 slots for a group phone call with a wonderful Buddhist leader — Joanna Macy, Bhante Buddharakkhita, Roshi Joan Halifax, or Hozan Alan Senauke.

Call to Action: Meditate in Solidarity with OWS

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I very rarely post twice in the same day, but I know there’s a lot of traffic coming this way because of the post I just published on Occupy Wall Street, and I want to take this opportunity to amplify a call to action from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

The good folks at BPF are collaborating with The Interdependence Project, Off the Mat and Into the World, and Third Root Community Health Center to organize public meditations this weekend (October 15 and 16) in a show of solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

You can organize a meditation in your own community — take a look at this Facebook page that BPF has set up and use it as a template to create your own event. Then go back to the BPF FB page and list it on the wall there. I’ll check that page regularly and include those on the Calendar of Events here on the JC.

Time and time again, I’ve witnessed how a contemplative presence at major protests can offer people with a much-needed refuge… like this example from Washington, DC, several years ago. These public meditations can help to ground all our actions in love rather than fear, which is the key to sustainable social change. I’m planning to help make this happen here in my hometown of Santa Fe, and encourage you to get involved as well.

And please help spread this post… thanks!

Occupy Wall Street: Buddhist Voices

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10:00 pm update: Please make sure to read the comments underneath this post — I’ve added a few more article and videos. Also please see the Calendar of Events.

The movement to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has been building for the past month. Until just recently, there were very few Buddhists writing on the subject.

Over the past week, I’ve come across a number of essays and statements on OWS coming from Buddhist voices. I’m sharing and summarizing the ones I’ve found below – if you have more to add to this list, please write in the comment section.

Some of these will be featured in next week’s Upaya Zen Center e-newsletter, which always includes fascinating and provocative articles from the dharma world (and beyond).

• Chris Wilson, president of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship board of directors, compares OWS to the Arab Spring and states that BPF endorses OWS  “based on our agreement that the influence of money in politics is blocking many of the social justice and environmental goals that BPF promotes. It is also based on the fact that Occupy Wall Street has made nonviolence one of its primary commitments and thus far has kept that commitment.”

Read more here: http://bpf.org/what-buddhists-are-saying/occupy-and-arab-spring

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• In “We Are the 100%,” Ari Pliskin of the Zen Peacemakers offers a “mindful response” to OWS. Drawing on the precepts and particularly this one: “When peacemakers vow to be oneness, there is no Other,” Ari’s piece makes the case for a non-dualistic view of the current situation.

Read more here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/we-are-the-100/

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• Madrone Phoenix, a dharma practitioner based in Providence, RI, shares her experience visiting OWS in New York last week, and she reflects on her earlier experiences as an “angry activist” and how her Buddhist practice over the past few years has impacted her way of being involved in this movement. She writes, “i woke up to the notion that to occupy a place – to infuse it with kindness, consideration and deep love for all – is the place where liberation truly occurs whether in our minds, or in our streets.”

Read more here: http://cultivatefearlessness.blogspot.com/2011/10/waking-up-from-american-dream.html

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• Michael Stone, a yoga and meditation teacher based in Toronto, also visited NYC last week. He offers his perspective in an article titled, “Remaining Human: A Buddhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street.” In it, he focuses on the ways in which this nascent movement is striving to be the change it wishes to see, through a commitment to nonviolence and a collective decision making process. Michael writes, “We need a language now that allows us to reimagine what a flourishing society looks like. Any meditator knows that there are times when the thoughts that stream endlessly through awareness can eventually grow quiet. But it’s only temporary. The stories come back. But they return differently. They have more space and they are –more fluid, less rigid. We need stories to think and make sense of a world – now an ailing world that needs us.”

Read more here: http://torontobodymind.ca/articles/remaining-human-buddhist-perspective-occupy-wall-street

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• Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel, past executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and Zen priest based in the San Francisco Bay Area, notes the troublesome connotations of the word, “occupy.” She writes, “The word brought up visions of invasion, people marching in to take over.  I also saw a consciousness of us holding down specific territories (turfing) that seems to persist as the way to conquer.”

Read more here: http://zenjuearthlynmanuel.com/2011/10/09/un-occupy-the-land/#more-1451

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• The Rev. James Ford, who has the distinction of being both a Unitarian Universalist minister and a Zen priest, begins his piece by echoing the words of Harvey Milk: “I’m here to recruit you.” Rev. Ford’s lengthy meditation, which he originally delivered as a sermon, weaves together themes from the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (a day of atonement) with political and economic analysis, but his main point is clear: get involved. He writes, “Sometimes you have to be outside. Sometimes you have to stand up. And sometimes you have to shout. You have to make demands that may be uncomfortable to the status quo. The Vietnam war ended for many reasons, but one principal among them were the people willing to mass together, take some tear gas, and bear witness to another way.”

Read more here: http://monkeymindonline.blogspot.com/2011/10/american-autumn-yom-kippur-meditation.html

The Window

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There is this moment, often just a split second, between the time something happens and our reaction to it.

Anything can happen in this moment. Whatever does happen turns the wheel of karma.

In the moments and days after September 11, 2001, there was an open window for those of us here in the U.S., a time when we were stunned by what happened and we hadn’t yet reacted, as a nation. And then the window closed, in the form of a formal declaration of war on Afghanistan (and subsequently Iraq).

But before that, can you remember?

Read the rest of this entry

10 Asian+Asian American Buddhists Who Make a Difference

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Canyon Sam

I’m taking this cue from Arun over on the blog Angry Asian Buddhist, which explores issues of race, culture, and privilege in American Buddhism.

As Arun notes in his May 23rd post, this is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. He suggests: “…it would be great if the Buddhist blogging community took advantage of the eight remaining days in May to spend a little time—maybe just one post—recognizing the voices of Asian American Buddhists.”

I want to take Arun up on that invitation and highlight a few of the contributions of Buddhists of Asian and Asian American descent to the field of socially engaged Buddhism. Please note that the list includes people born in the U.S. as well as born in other countries… I couldn’t imagine a list about engaged Buddhism that left off folks like Kaz Tanahashi and Thich Nhat Hanh, so that’s why I expanded on Arun’s original suggestion.

This list is by no means exhaustive… I’m only touching on a few of the engaged Asian and Asian American Buddhists that I have known, worked with, and deeply appreciate.

Anchalee Kurutach was born and raised in Thailand but has lived in the U.S. since 1988.  She has been involved with refugee and immigrant work for over twenty years in both Asia and the U.S. Anchalee is very active in both the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as well as the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

Anushka Fernandopulle, a dharma teacher in the Theravada tradition, is on the leadership sangha of the East Bay Meditation Center, in Oakland, CA. In addition to her past service as a board member for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and her support for many other progressive organizations, Anushka brings a dharmic perspective to politics: she serves as a mayoral appointee to the San Francisco Citizen’s Committee on Community Development, a commission that advises the city on community development policy.

Canyon Sam  is a third generation Chinese American activist, author, and playright. She is the author of Sky Train: Tibetan Women On the Edge of History. After spending a year backpacking through China and Tibet when she was in her twenties, Canyon became very involved in advocating for Tibetan human rights and she helped to found the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Duncan Ryuken Williams, a Professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley, has written on Japanese Buddhist history, Buddhism and environmentalism, and American Buddhism. He is the author of several books, including Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds (Harvard, 1997).

Sister Jun Yasuda, whose picture graces the new masthead of the Jizo Chronicles, is part of the Nipponzan Myohji order. She has led and participated in peace walks to address issues such as nuclear disarmament, prison reform, and Native American rights for many years now. Sister Jun-san lives at the Grafton Peace Pagoda in upstate New York.

Kaz Tanahashi

Kaz Tanahashi, born in Japan, has lived in the U.S. since 1977. Besides being an artist, author, and translator (his recently updated translation of Dogen’s Shobogenzo was just published earlier this year), Kaz is very active in environmental and peace issues. He founded the organizations A World Without Armies and Plutonium Free Future (with Mayumi Oda).

Rev. Ken Tanaka  is a scholar and co-editor (with Charles Prebish) of the book The Faces of Buddhism in America. A leader in the Shin Buddhist community, Rev. Tanaka has called for the development of an “Engaged Pure Land Buddhism”

Mushim Ikeda-Nash  is a Buddhist teacher, author, diversity consultant, and community peace activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mushim was coeditor of Making the Invisible Visible: Healing Racism in Our Buddhist Communities. Her work has been featured in two documentary films, “Between the Lines: Asian American Women Poets” and “Acting on Faith: Women and the New Religious Activism in America.

Ryo Imamura was politically active on the Vietnam War issue and farmworkers’ rights, and along with Robert Aitken Roshi helped to found the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in 1978. Ryo is currently a professor of East-West Psychology at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Thich Nhat Hanh –  No list on engaged Buddhism would be complete without mention of Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, who coined the term while he was still living in Vietnam during the war. Thay’s activism includes founding the School of Youth for Social Service (SYSS) in Vietnam, but probably his most important contribution to socially engaged Buddhism is his embodiment of what it means to “be peace” as a way of working toward peace.

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