Discovering and Developing Our EcoDharma Kristin Barker
Climate change is here. Even if we are able to reverse course and begin repair, enormous suffering for human and non-human communities cannot be avoided in the near term. As interlocking ecological crises unfold around the world, including not only climate destabilization but species loss and freshwater shortages, relative social well-being may well buckle under the pressure. Both individuals and communities are increasingly challenged by the fear, grief, and even aggression that comes with encountering this difficult reality, making our collective work of restoring justice and ecological health all the more difficult.
The Dharma offers potent resources relevant to the challenges we face. Our traditions’ wisdom and practices can support communities in turning toward our situation; developing essential qualities such as courage, calm, compassion, and insight; and then acting skillfully. Yet many Dharma teachers rarely speak to these concerns in their offerings, feeling disqualified or in some other way inhibited. In this session, we’ll explore these blocks. We’ll discuss how, in the face of such immense suffering, we as a teaching community can support ourselves and one another in discovering, developing, and sharing our own unique EcoDharma.
Multiple Workshop Sessions
60 minutes Bringing wise attention to the healing of Capitalism, Colonialism & Racism; a creative way out of this mind made illusion (mano-maya) Acharya Susmita Barua (Navasajiva)
Intention behind this workshop is to harness the power of collective wise attention (yoniso-manasikara) and intention to bring forth new vision, and insight for inner transformation, research and outer action; find the opportunity for paradigm shift within the twin challenge of long systemic issues like Capitalism and Racism. Both are mind-made illusion and they can be unmade by engaging the bright mind of wisdom and compassion. This is part of my ongoing work of mindful social and economic system change experiment in the sphere of Buddhist social engagement. How our visionary thoughts, intention, attention, new perception, generous action and understanding can bring transformation outside without any violence. Some exciting scientific research on changing our brain, behavior and action will be introduced.
60 minutes Dynamics of Ambedkar Thought: A Path to Liberate from the Inequities of Caste and Race Dr. Santosh I. Raut (Maitriveer Nagarjuna)
The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality.”
(Dr. Ambedkar at the All-India Depressed Classes Conference, 1942.)
Although Dr. Ambedkar died in 1956, his conversion to Buddhism is of special relevance to this predicament. The great man initiated a social, political, and spiritual revolution in India, based on nonviolence and egalitarian human values. This was aimed at transforming the lives and social experience of millions who were doomed by their fellow Hindus, to live the worst of lives because they had been born into castes known as “Untouchable”. Statistics testify to the considerable social and economic improvement of those who followed the path shown by him. Dr. Ambedkar saw that constitutional change and the path of the Buddha, based on non-violence could bring about a ‘new society’, permeated by the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. These, he saw not merely as political slogans but as deep spiritual principles, derived not from the French Revolution but – in his own words – “from the teachings of my master, the Buddha.”
His Buddhist insights on the situation were eye-catching. Hi realized, caste-identity was nothing but a notion of mind , and as such, a manifestation of self-clinging. Any attachment to identity based on race, caste, gender or nation inevitably creates disharmony as well as cultures based on privilege and hierarchy. These insights took him to the feet of the Buddha. His special contribution to the world was showing that social and political liberation had to start with liberation of the mind, as he said in his last important public engagement at Kathmandu in November 1956, “The greatest thing the Buddha taught the world is that the world cannot be reformed except by the reform of the mind of man and of the world.”
This was his great Dhamma Revolution. Precisely for this reason why his conversion to, and approach to Buddhism, is not only of relevance to the so-called Untouchables of India, but to all those who want to see a world free of oppression and discrimination.
 Ambedkar, B. R., Speech on All India Radio, 3 October 1954, Dr. Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches, Vol. 17 (Part III), Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 2003, p. 503
 B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, Critical Quest, New Delhi, p. 17
 B. R. Ambedkar, The Buddha or Karl Marx, Critical Quest, New Delhi.
60 minutes The Joy & Sorrow of Living: Dharma Sisters Writing and Sharing their Life Stories
Trudy Goodman & Susan Murcott
Writing is another form of practice, and another path to the joy and sorrow of living, learning and teaching. In this Year of the Pandemic, there has more time for reflection. Since January 2021, dharma sisters, Trudy Goodman and Susan Murcott, friends for over 40 years, have been engaged in monthly sharing of their autobiographical writing. This interactive workshop will begin with Trudy and Susan sharing examples of their life-story writing and then invite participants to share examples of their own.
60 minutes Dancing with the Dharma
In order to truly understand the dance, one must be still. And in order to truly understand stillness, one must dance. – Rumi
If you can liberate the body then the heart-mind can follow. In this workshop we focus on meditation and movement, as we integrate the stillness of Buddhist mindfulness meditation with the moving meditations of the 5Rhythms®. The Buddha encouraged us to bring wise attention to every aspect of our lives. In sitting meditation, we have the opportunity to observe the mind and body at rest through silent introspection. In the practice of the 5Rhythms, we engage in mindfulness while in motion. The 5Rhythms is a map that teaches how energy moves. The two polarities of moving and sitting meditation together mirror the dance of life. In this journey we are always moving between these two spectrums. If one learns to not cling or avoid, one can then hold the place of the silent witness and be at ease with all that life offers.
We encourage meditation students to practice mindful dancing in order to bring balance and insight into their lives. We invite dancers to engage in sitting meditation in order to embody integration, balance, and insight. Join us for the groundbreaking union of these two deep and wise practices.
Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin
90 minutes May We Gather: Reflections on a National Buddhist Memorial Ceremony for Asian American Ancestors
Rev. Duncan Ryuken Williams, Chenxing Han, Funie Hsu
The co-organizers of “May We Gather” – the first national Buddhist memorial service in response to anti-Asian violence held forty-nine days after the 2021 Atlanta-area shootings – will reflect on the historic gathering that called attention to the long history of violence and exclusion of Asian American Buddhists. We believe that in the face of nearly two centuries of xenophobia and systemic violence, Asian American Buddhists have long joined together to rebuild our communities. Piece by broken piece, we sutured the jagged edges of altars, statues, incense burners, and our very bodies and minds back together. This mending is part of our Buddhist practice in America. Each act of rejoining reveals how compassion can arise out of racial suffering, how fragments are inseparable from wholeness. We mend them as a declaration of our interconnectedness, as an expression of gratitude to our ancestors, and as a way to cultivate the karmic conditions for American Buddhism’s continued flourishing.
Pandemic Ceremony + Closing Meditation
Dharmacharini Vimalasara, Lama Dawa Tarchin Phillips, Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin and Dr. Ven. Pannavati Bhikkhuni
Let us gather together to honor the lives of those lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will engage in ceremony and celebration from various traditions to transfer merit and transport these souls to the other shore.