The ZSS Engaged Buddhism Committee works to find ways to apply the teachings of wisdom and compassion to address social justice, political, environmental and economic issues. In our practice we strive to deepen our experience of the interconnectedness of all life and to advocate for peace and well-being, not just for ourselves and our communities, but for the entire world. At this time, we are focusing our efforts in six areas:
INCLUSION. Seeking to promote radical acceptance for all beings begins with working for inclusion. Starting with our own sangha, we extend a warm welcome to all who come, without exception. We value your presence: whatever your age, race, ethnic and cultural background, gender and sexual orientation, religious affiliation or any other variable. To broaden this effort beyond our sangha, we offer this list of anti-Asian and anti-racism resources as a step in this journey.
ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND INJUSTICE. We participate in efforts to end poverty and bring about economic justice. To this end, the Zen Studies Society board has formally endorsed the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. We encourage sangha members to learn about the Poor Peoples’s Campaign committed to fighting against the myth of scarcity, which says that there isn’t enough to go around. We are dedicated to fighting against the narrative that the poor and suffering are simply poor and suffering because “they made poor choices,” or because “poverty is inevitable.” We support and amplify the narratives of the poor, the dispossessed, and the disaffected.
CLIMATE CRISIS. Joining in the effort to combat the deadly effects of global warming and other human-caused assaults on Mother Earth, we commit to reversing and ameliorating the climate crisis by utilizing the wisdom of indigenous people and following the recommendations of climate scientists. We know that change must begin with each of us, with our own actions and choices, moment by moment, and from the interconnectedness realized in our Buddhist practice. We pledge to find ways to encourage this change in others near and far, in positions ordinary and powerful.
VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND INTERRUPTION. Addressing the cycles of violence and hatred that have such a pervasive grip on our society, we see this violence in the context of economic injustice, which fans xenophobia and racism. We will support local community-based efforts to prevent violence, including the violence perpetrated by police officers against People of Color. We will work toward the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, and support its victims. We will learn about and join intervention efforts against gang-related violence, often based on retaliation, such as the work in Syracuse of OGs Against Violence. Check out a study that looks at such efforts.
HUNGER. There is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet, yet more than 820 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each night. The United Nations has declared the global hunger emergency the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. Global responses to hunger require that the entire world—its people, governments, and private businesses—must play a pivotal role in the process. Understanding the key factors driving hunger is equally crucial—we need to see that corporate profits are valued above human life and the health of the planet. We seek to join with others who are working towards the global goal of sustainable development, leading to the goal of Zero Hunger.
COVID-19. This effort will focus on the needs of vulnerable segments of society such as front-line workers, the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions, the economically disadvantaged, unemployed, living alone, terminally ill, or dealing with the death of a loved one. Starting with a list of COVID-19 resources and recommendations, we offer special support to our Chinese and Asian sisters and brothers, who have been verbally and physically assaulted during the pandemic.
We invite you to sign-up for our free and recurring Wednesday evening discussion and study groups:
- Engaged Buddhism Dharma Discussion with Jifu Devyani Sadh – (First Wednesdays) at 7 pm ET. Topic: The Hunger Initiative. Learn More
- Racial Solidarity Sangha with Kanchi Lucía Oliva Hennelly and Zuiken Inago Scott Rebellon – (Second Wednesdays) at 7 pm ET. Learn More
- Critical Buddhist Study with Yuki Eric Michels – (Third Wednesdays) at 7 pm ET. Learn More
- Open Meeting with Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz Sensei and Dr. Michael Fayne – (Fourth Wednesdays) at 7 pm ET. Learn More
Engaged Buddhism Committee
Jifu Devyani Sadh | Yuki Eric Michels | Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz Sensei | Michael Fayne