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What Does Socially Engaged Buddhism Look Like?

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Here’s one possibility. This one comes from nearly three years ago, January 2007, when about 300 people came together to form a “Buddhist Peace Delegation” as part of a much larger march in Washington D.C. to call for an end to the war in Iraq. Approximately 500,000 people walked for peace that day, though it received little media coverage. I helped to organize the Buddhist delegation, along with my friend and writer Louise Dunlap and others, and it was one of the most inspiring few days of my life.

Our delegation was comprised of Buddhist of all stripes — Pure Land, SGI, Zen, Theravadin, Tibetan — as well as people in the march who gravitated toward us because of the noticeably different energy that emanated from our participants. We had a group of kids leading the delegation, and one of us rang a bell of mindfulness every so often to remind us all to stop a take a breath.

On another day of the weekend long action, a small group of us visited the offices of several Senators and Representatives to have a dialogue about the war. I always remember one of Sen. Harry Reid’s aides telling us that even though the Senator didn’t agree with our request to de-fund the war, it was important that we were out there marching and holding that position because it gave him more leverage to negotiate a more moderate position (gradual withdrawl of troops).

This video was put together by Paul Davis, a photographer, Vietnam vet, and member of the Cincinnati Buddhist Peace Fellowship chapter.

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

3 responses »

  1. Unbelievable. I lived near D.C. then, but I never heard of this.

  2. Pingback: Where is the Love? (aka: Meet Me in Arizona) « The Jizo Chronicles

  3. Pingback: Call to Action: Meditate in Solidarity with OWS « The Jizo Chronicles

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