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What Would William Penn Think?

A small Philadelphia sangha marks the crossroads of Buddhism and Quakerism.

Elizabeth Redden

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© Myra Kate VallianosSITTING UP STRAIGHT in tall Shaker-style chairs, the members of Lilac Breeze Sangha follow their breath to the tune of Quaker silence. Like many other Westerners, they’ve taken to Buddhist sitting practice without giving up their religious roots, combining traditions for a customized spiritual experience. For math teacher David Shen, who combines Catholicism, Taoism, Quakerism, and Buddhism in his practice, mixing faiths works to their mutual enrichment: “In Quaker meeting,” he says, “when people speak, I now listen deeply, the way Buddhists would listen.”

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