August 11, 2010

Socially Engaged Buddhism Symposium Begins Remembering Past and Planning for Future

Sensei Eve introduced and contextualized the Montague, MA campus on which the first major Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism is taking place (She is the head teacher of the Montague Farm Zendo, the local mediation group.)  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.  From the commune, members of the Liberation News Services distributed information that the New York Times did not find ‘fit to print’ and in the 1970’s, it developed into a center of organic gardening (which continues to this day and provides vegetables for our community meals) and a center of anti-nuclear activism.

Bernie Glassman

Introducing the panel on the challenges of Socially Engaged Buddhism, Zen Peacemakers founder Zen Master Bernie Glassman 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!  After the Symposium, we will look at what new things may come of this event.  By the end of the Symposium, we will be explore putting together a declaration, a set of affirmations that reflect that.

During the Symposium, Ari Setsudo Pliskin and Steve Kanji Ruhl will review salient points of the event during "Thus Have We Heard" sessions every day and Bernie will lead a session reflecting on "What’s the Deal Here?"  (A great Koan, he joked, introduced by Lenny Bruce.)  In this way, we will be looking for major developments.

Symposium Audience

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