Cultural Wars in Buddhism
Ann Gleig & Brenna Artinga
While often associated with a liberal demographic, the increasing online visibility of conservative rhetoric such as—”snowflakes,” “politically correct,” “postmodern identity politics,” and “cultural Marxism,” –demonstrates the presence of right-wing sentiments and populations in American convert Buddhism. Our research situates these sentiments largely as a reaction to the development of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in these communities. We chart this backlash across a broad right-wing spectrum that spans from “reactionary centrism” to the alt-right. In conclusion, we locate these reactionary right-wing forms of American Buddhism in relationship to modern and postmodern forms of global Buddhism.
Multiple Workshop Sessions
6o minutes Buddhism & Sexual Ethics for Communities Lama Pema Khandro
In the wake of brave allegations inspired by #metoo movement, Buddhist communities have become aware of abuse and sexual misconduct at a greater level. This has led to questions about how we can make Buddhism safe for women and for vulnerable people of all genders? It leads to questions about how we can structure communities, events, and sangha membership to create safety and properly respond to harm. Addressing these issues properly requires resources and massive effort on the part of Buddhist teachers. This discussion will focus on sharing our approaches to these issues, and discussing how these approaches may vary in bigger and smaller communities. This will be a time for Buddhist teachers to share our resources and discuss together what we have done, what needs to be done and how we can support one another rise to this challenge. The purpose of this session is to create support for pro-actively creating a culture of safety, clarity and responsiveness in Buddhist settings.
60 minutes Transforming “Us v. Them” into “We” Using Wise Speech
Language has been one of the main tools to create the “other” and to foster ignorance, greed, and hatred in human society. Wise Speech, when coupled with skillful means such Compassionate Communication, can create connection and inclusion, and give rise to compassion and the relief of suffering and stress. This workshop will offer 5 practical steps from the Compassionate Communication model for applying Wise Speech to transform “us vs. them” into “we together”.
60 minutes Teaching Teachers
Lama Dawa Tarchin Phillips
60 minutes The New Bodhisattva Path David Loy
Are we living in “the most dangerous time ever in human history” (Noam Chomsky)? What does Buddhism offer that can help us understand and respond appropriately to the unprecedented challenges that face us now? The Buddha lived in a very different time, but Buddhist teachings have important social and ecological implications for our times. Perhaps the most important is the bodhisattva path. How shall we understand it today? In what ways might it need to be updated, to be the most helpful for us today?
David R. Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, a prolific writer, and a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. His books include Money Sex War Karma, A New Buddhist Path, and most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. In addition to offering workshops and meditation retreats, he is one of the founders of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado.
In June 2014, David received an honorary degree from Carleton College, his alma mater, during its 2014 Commencement. In April 2016 David returned his honorary degree, to protest the decision of the Board of Trustees not to divest from fossil fuel investments.
For the morning session and glimpse of the afternoon.
Networking Exchange and Exhibit Hall
(optional but encourged)
END OF MORNING SESSION
Practice: Multi sessions
(meditation, chanting, movement, etc…)
Intro to Keynote
Women Ven. Dr. Pannavati
Multiple Workshop Sessions
60 minutes Buddhist Practice and Multi-Religious Belonging
Ruben Habito, Ellen Jikai Birx, Elihu Genmyo Smith
Many of those who come to Buddhist Practice especially in the Western Hemisphere were raised in an Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) religious tradition. How may Dharma Teachers guide them into an authentic and integral Buddhist practice, while acknowledging, respecting, and learning from their own religious roots? What may Buddhist Dharma teachers learn from these religions also that may enhance one’s own Dharma teaching?
60 minutes 21 Taras for the 21st Century: Awakening Activities
Dorje Lopon Chandra Easton
In this workshop, you will learn about the 21 Tārās, their enlightened activities, and the modern-day women who embody these qualities. You will learn the practice of the 8th Tara, called the “Invincible Heroine”, or Drölma Zhen Migyalwa’i Pamo (Skt. Tārā Aparajitā), who is wrathful and dark red in color, and her enlightened activities overcome negativity, injustice, and harm. By meditating on her and reciting her mantra, we bring about her qualities, enlivening ourselves and our world with justice on all levels, social, racial, gender, environmental— all forms of justice. Come learn about the modern-day women who embody the 8th Tārā’s qualities specifically and experience how it feels to bring these qualities alive within and around you.
60 minutes Living in the Light of Great Compassion: Lessons from Engaged Pure Land
Dr. Jeff Wilson
This session examines the role of social engagement in Pure Land Buddhism, especially Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism). Jodo Shinshu is the largest form of Buddhism in Japan and the oldest organized form in North America. Although Shin Buddhists have been involved in socially engaged action for centuries, their efforts are less well known outside of the Japanese and Japanese-American/Canadian/Brazilian communities. My approach is informed by my research as a professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies and by my role as an ordained Jodo Shinshu minister serving the Toronto Buddhist Temple.
After a brief introduction to the idea of engaged Buddhism, I explore several factors that help explain why Pure Land Buddhism readily lends itself to social engagement. First is the central story of Amida Buddha (the buddha of Great Compassion) which provides the Pure Land as a vision for the ideal society. In the Pure Land template this society explicitly lacks discrimination based on colour or gender, provides for everyone’s material and health needs, allows for unimpeded freedom of movement across borders, maintains a wondrous and flourishing natural environment, and focuses on Dharma rather than egoistic pursuits. Second is the interpretation of Amida’s functioning provided by Shinran (the 13th century monk who founded Jodo Shinshu). He teaches that Great Compassion embraces all sentient beings without exception and liberates them in whatever circumstances they occupy, just as they are. Historically this has been a source of solidarity that led to effective peasant resistance to military oppression, and in the contemporary world is a touchstone that militates against discrimination based on sexuality, race, etc, and encourages religious tolerance and cooperation. Third is the core Shin value of gratitude as the basis of awakened life, which shifts the focus of Buddhist practice from the pursuit of personal enlightenment to acts of service in thanksgiving for the Buddha’s benevolence.
I then discuss six primary principles for Shin social engagement based on Jodo Shinshu Buddhist thought, and demonstrate how these perspectives may be useful to non-Pure Land Buddhists as resources in their work to make their own sanghas and the world at large better. Furthermore, I illustrate these principles with specific examples of how they have been put into concrete action by Shin practitioners and communities. These examples include same-sex marriage in the Buddhist Churches of America; temple campaigns against anti-burakumin (Japanese outcaste) discrimination; Japanese solar-powered eco-temples; Shin prison ministry and the fight for prisoner’s rights at the Supreme Court of the United States; elder care support networks in Hawai’i; ministerial and community-based education against Islamophobia; and demonstrations for denuclearization of the Japanese power industry.