(via BPF Summer Gathering Schedule – Buddhist Peace Fellowship / Turning Wheel Media)
Alternatives to Systems Based on Greed, Aversion, and Delusion
Using Buddhist and other spiritual traditions as a lens, this session will examine our current capitalist system and explore alternatives that have arisen throughout history, which could encourage beloved community rather than greed, aversion, and delusion. The process will involve a panel discussion with people who actively work for systemic liberation in addition to personal liberation practices. After the panel discussion, participants will break into groups to discuss dharmic understandings of our current reality, share alternatives, and come away with new or re-energized ideas and practices for personal and systemic liberation in their lives and communities.
aneeta mitha: Photographer, activist-organizer
JM Wong: OR Nurse, international labor organizer
Joshua Stephens: Writer and dedicated practitioner with Dharmapunx NYC
Harjit Singh Gill: LCSW; Institute for Anarchist Studies
Black Rage, Black Healing
Anti-black racism and oppression continue to present plenty of reasons for rage. Intergenerational trauma also informs and complicates the emotional lives of many people of African descent living here in the U.S. As spiritual practitioners and social justice advocates, we want to acknowledge this atmosphere in which we do our spiritual- political work. In this dialogue we will hear from Black artists, activists, and two dharma practitioners about how anger has informed their political and spiritual paths, especially the dichotomies between stereotypes of the “angry Black person” and the “magical Negro” who absolves others of their guilt by maintaining good cheer, even in the face of structural oppression. How can we make room for authentic spiritual seeking in the dharma, and in our activism, in this climate of anti-Black racism?
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel: Zen priest at Still Breathing Meditation Center
Mia McKenzie: Founder of Black Girl Dangerous; author, The Summer We Got Free
Buddhism and Caste Discrimination in India
This panel will provide an overview of the struggle of millions of Dalit (ex-untouchable) and Tribal people in India who have converted to Buddhism and are working to free themselves from caste and gender discrimination. The Buddhist revival in India is a critically important movement because it opens a way to eliminate the caste discrimination that has existed for more than two thousand years. Dalit Buddhists see the Dharma as the basis for radical social transformation, but their work is largely unknown outside of India.
Alan Senauke: former Executive Director of BPF, Vice-Abbot of BZC
Valerie Mason-John (Dh. Vimalasara): Author and Teacher
David Creighton (Dh. Viradhamma): Executive Director of Dharma Jiva
AT BERKELEY ZEN CENTER
Climate change is an overwhelming challenge of our day, and it has called forth power and beauty and solidarity in the social justice and environmental justice movements. Climate justice is the truth that climate change hits oppressed peoples the hardest, and that capitalism’s insanity is now causing levels of human and environmental suffering unprecedented in human history. It also encapsulates the idea that a changing climate is proving to be an incredibly powerful catalyst for massive economic and social transformation. Looking through the lens of Buddhism’s deep insight into interdependence, and the powerful lens of direct action taking place around the globe, we will hear from some of the Bay Area’s / nation’s most inspiring climate justice leaders. What role can spiritual resistance and Dharmic tools play in our search for mass movements around the world for climate justice? How do we build solidarity across nations / counties / cities when super-polluters continue to poison the world with carbon at no cost to themselves? Are engaged Buddhist practices a doorway into the felt sense of interdependence that allows high-risk actions to take place and succeed? We’ll explore these and other questions together, as well as practice and reflect.
Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Canticle Farms
Kristin Barker: One Earth Sangha
AT CANTICLE FARM
Direct Action Training
Part 1: Introduction to nonviolent direct action
Part 2: Blockades training
This workshop will provide space to think critically about the history of nonviolent direct action (NVDA), nonviolence theory, and how NVDA fits into an overall campaign strategy. What is NVDA, how and when is it used effectively, and what does it mean to incorporate into a movement’s toolbox? This session will include facilitated conversations and exercises designed to help participants clarify their own understandings of nonviolence and engage one another in creative brainstorming about how it might be applied strategically. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to discuss basic action planning and logistics, as well as gain some familiarity with blockading as a tactic. No prior experience necessary, just curiosity.
Jack Downey: Ruckus Society trainer
Diana Pei Wu: Portland-based grassroots organizer and racial justice educator
Film Screening: Rise Up and Call Their Names
Rise Up and Call Their Names, which chronicles a two-year interfaith, multiracial, multiethnic pilgrimage from Massachusetts to Africa—by way of Florida and the Caribbean—undertaken to heal the wounds of slavery. But is religious belief alone enough to hold the pilgrimage together? Rise Up and Call Their Names follows 60 people who joined the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage on a physical and spiritual voyage. They walked from Massachusetts to Florida, then made their way to the Caribbean and ultimately to Africa. Their purpose was to encourage whites to join the conversation about slavery and to pray to heal the societal racial rift. Along the way, they visited the Masjid Khalifah Mosque (part of Imam Wallace Mohammed’s Muslim American Society) and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which works with black farmers struggling to hold onto their land in Alabama. After months of difficult travel and deep soul-searching, the pilgrims reach Africa with a stronger sense of identity and purpose.
Pilgrimage participants Brother Gilberto, Louise Dunlap, & Kazu Haga
The Invisible Majority: Will the Real Asian-American Buddhist Please Stand Up?
Despite comprising more than two-thirds of American Buddhists, Asian American Buddhists are both under- and misrepresented in academic and popular literature on American Buddhism. Based on more than fifty in-person and email interviews with young adults from a wide range of ethnicities and Buddhist backgrounds, this workshop highlights the diverse practices, flexible beliefs, complex communities, and hybrid identities of Asian American Buddhists. These conversations reveal the perplexing incongruities that arise when juxtaposing the nuanced realities of Asian American Buddhists’ religious lives with reductionist characterizations of “immigrant” and “ethnic” Buddhists.
Ultimately, this project underscores the need for those who are willing to critically examine the influence of racism and Orientalism in representations of Asian American Buddhists. Only through the collective efforts of these “culturally engaged Buddhists” will we be able to construct creative alternatives to the “two Buddhisms” model of American Buddhism—a model that continues to promote “white convert Buddhism” as the face and voice of American Buddhism.
Chenxing Han: Buddhist chaplain, MA from the Graduate Theological Union and Institute of Buddhist Studies
Keeping Cool in the Fire: Becoming More Skillful with Inner or Outer Conflict
How do we bring our spiritual practice into situations of conflict, whether inner conflict (“Should I stay in this job or relationship?”), interpersonal conflict, or conflict within an organization or community or society? By conflict, we mean a tension or contradiction between goals, intentions, or styles, which may or may not be connected with hostility. For most of us, conflicts are difficult and we often tend to the extremes of either avoiding conflicts or “acting out” when conflicts arise. This occurs particularly because in conflicts we typically have difficult emotions, and thoughts involving blaming and harsh judging of others (or ourselves). In this workshop, we will offer perspectives and tools to take home, brought together from Buddhist teachings and the work of mediators and peacemakers, that will help us to understand the nature of conflict; to see conflicts as opportunities for reconciliation, learning, and deepening relationships; to be more skillful when there are difficult emotions and polarizing thoughts; and to cultivate mindfulness and skillful response in the midst of conflict. We will explore this through meditation, short talks, discussion, and interactive exercises, including practicing with conflict scenarios drawn from our own life experiences and from simulations.
Donald Rothberg: dharma teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center; facilitated Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) groups
Learning From Restorative Justice
How does our Buddhist practice inform our views of justice and reconciliation? Crime and healing? How do we understand punishment and accountability in our own lives? In the face of hyper-incarceration, communities across the country are looking for alternatives. Restorative Justice programs, with the overarching goal of bringing together those most affected by a particular conflict, have developed to address “crime.” Based on current work in Louisiana, this workshop will highlight stories, models, and practices from the criminal justice system where restorative justice is being used and explore ways in which restorative justice can be helpful in our practice. We will also consider the tensions between working within the system as opposed to outside it. What are the benefits of these programs and what are the dangers of embedding them in a criminal justice system that has opposing goals?
Rev. Michaela O’Connor Bono: Zen Priest and Restorative Justice Coordinator based in New Orleans, LA.
Movement for Right Action: Yoga for Socially Engaged Buddhists
The presenters will briefly cover issues that come up in the context of yoga practice in America, including the influence of capitalism on yoga, ableism, thin privilege, and maybe other issues if time permits. We’ll also consider how yoga asana and movement practice can support us as we do our work in the world. The aim here will be more to stimulate reflection, and/or questions, as well as to provide recognition of the raised issues as needing more attention within the American yoga community and beyond. During a 45-minute asana/movement portion, the focus will be on flexibility around differing needs of participants, as opposed to speed, body flexibility, and “aiming for the perfect pose.” Poses will be offered in modifiable forms, with time given for participants to enter into and experience each posture.
Nathan Thompson: Minneapolis-based writer and activist
Mushim Patricia Ikeda: Dharma teacher at East Bay Meditation Center
Climate change is an enormous problem that necessarily requires large-scale, systemic responses. At the same time, each and every one of us on Earth has a part to play in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and stewardship of the planet. Dharma practitioners and communities have been very thoughtful in their responses to the ecological crisis, and have often been at the forefront of direct environmental action. A new perspective called “Planetary Hospice” can help us frame the transition we now face in powerful, and empowering ways. At the same time, there are ways we act more powerfully as spiritual activists.
Rev. Danny Fisher: Buddhist blogger and chaplain
Zhiwa Woodbury: Author of Planetary Hospice
Secular Mindfulness: Benefits, Concerns, and an Engaged Buddhist Path Forward
Secular mindfulness has become increasingly en vogue. This workshop intends to bring together people active in the conversation on mindfulness to discuss the benefits and concerns of secular mindfulness. Our intention is to present a diversity of thoughts on the issue and to frame the conversation around the following questions: What are our highest aspirations for the practice of mindfulness, as people committed to social justice + dharma? What is the role of ethics, morality, and social justice convictions in connection with the trends of secular mindfulness? Should and can mindfulness be ethically neutral? Should and can we challenge the notion of ethical neutrality? This session intends to provide space for a collective discussion of how to move forward with openness, care, and an honest consideration of the concerns and ideas brought forth in the conversation.
Ron Purser: San Francisco State University, co-author of “Beyond McMindfulness”
Mushim Patricia Ikeda: Dharma teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center
Self Care for Activists
Stress is a common element in our modern lives, and as activists, we intentionally place ourselves in challenging situations where we turn toward our and others’ suffering. This session will focus on how we take care of ourselves through our practice and through our relationships. Self-care is a cornerstone to wellbeing and health, and practicing self- care helps us to reconnect to ourselves and to all life. This session will begin with gentle breath work and soothing yoga postures to get grounded in our bodies. We will then move into communication skills and exercises around self-care and spiritual activism. Models of resiliency will be discussed, followed by a council-style discussion of individual challenges and our personal rituals of self-care to share and honor our innate wisdom and to identify healthy strategies to cultivate resilience. Participants will be given materials to assist in formulating their own self-care plans to refer to during times of stress.
Stephanie Thomas: Houston- based activist & Buddhist chaplain
Green Sangha Leadership: TBD
The UNtraining: Healing Personal and Social Oppressions
The UNtraining is a provocative and compassionate approach to help end our unconscious collusion with racism and other social injustices. Whatever level of experience and activism we may have, our invisible “racial conditioning” can get in the way of intervening effectively or standing up for ourselves when racism occurs. This two hour workshop will introduce contemplative practices that help us explore the complexities of our conditioning while staying connected to the simplicity of our buddha nature. In doing so, we discover that loving ourselves is a political act.
Janet Carter: Co-director of the UNtraining workshops
Charlene Leung: Facilitator for Chinese UNtraining groups