This past week I spent at the Mother House of the Zen Peacekeepers in Montague, MA for a gathering of Western socially engaged Buddhist activists, academics, practitioners and artists. It was a mind blowing experience for me and the words and pictures I share here certainly will not convey how the impact of sharing space and conversation with all of these masters and students has opened my mind to the endless potential of being and doing. There simply are no limits, no boundaries, all that can be thought is possible.
Bernie Glassman and Robert Thurman discuss socially engaged Buddhism
Robert Thurman wears a clown nose while reminding us to have humor in our practice and reading from his book: Inner Revolution
Some of Bernie Glassman books:
Instructions to The Cook
Some of Robert Thurman books:
Why the Dalai Lama Matters
Some of Peter Senge's books:
Learning for Sustainability
The Fifth Discipline
Jeff Bridges shared his programs Little Head for Peace and End Hunger Network. He started his end hunger program in 1983. He and his daughter started the Little Head program recently- Jeff is an artist working in clay and painting and he has made some heads like the one in the picture that he is auctioning off in places around the world with the hopes of publishing a book with the photos of the heads and their owners. He donated this one to the Zen Peacemakers. So not only is Jeff an activist, actor and artist, he is a pretty good musician as well- yup the Crazy Heart movie was no fake.
Jeff Bridges and John Goodwin rocked the Zendo
Anne Waldman read Manatee/Humanity along with some of her other works. She blew my mind with her fierce intelligence.
See and listen to Anne Waldman read Manatee/Humanity
A panel moderated by Anne Waldman discussed "Arts and the Future of Socially Engaged Buddhism"
Mayumi Oda, Nina LaNegra, Jeff Bridges and Peter Matthiessen
Some of Peter Matthiessen's books:
In The Spirit of Crazy Horse
The Snow Leopard
I purchased a print by Mayumi Oda. It is of the deity Sarasvati (Sarsawati): The name Saraswati came from "saras" (meaning "flow") and "wati" (meaning "a women"). So, Saraswati is symbol of knowledge; its flow (or growth) is like a river and knowledge is supremely alluring, like a beautiful women (direct quote from wiki). Mayumi is incredibly inspiring to me -she is powerful, graceful and wise. Her work is very lovely and moving, I hope it graces me with blessings of knowledge, I believe it will.
Mayumi and I
Some other presenters at the symposium:
Jon Kabat-Zinn (photo by Erik Tetsudo from his blog La Puerta Sin Nombre) talked about how Buddhist principles are in human action and not necessarily only bound to Buddhist practice. He said "Being human is in all of us" and "...rest in boundless imagination" - yes, yes, yes!
Jan Willis (photo from the Zen Peacemaker Blog). Jan has this wonderful energy and passion, we had a nice chat about the beauty of books with previous owner's notes written in the margins. Oh I do wish I had a book she previously owned! Jan has written a number of books including, Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey.
Joan Halifax spoke about "death as a liberation"- Very interesting to me because death and dying is not an area I have studied much about. Joan wrote The Human Encounter With Death with Stanislav Grof and has written a number of other books on Buddhism and shamanism.
There were many other speakers such as David Loy, who wrote, The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003) among other books and Fleet Maull, who wrote Dharma in Hell and founded the Prison Dharma Network (PDN). Some others: Daniel Goleman of Social Intelligence fame and Melody Chavis who has written a number of books on her work with prisoners on death row.
Krishna Das lead us in some powerful chanting. This week was just magical!
Here are some other pictures from Montague Farm:
Outside the Zendo
The House of One People sign
I couldn't agree more:
Inside the Zendo