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Socially Engaged Buddhism Conference Day 1 - Roots and Challenges


Krishna Das is warming up for a Kirtan upstairs, and the Mother House of the Zen Peacemakers in Montague, MA is buzzing with movement and energy on this first day of the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism.  
Put together by Roshi Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers, this symposium is looking to address many of the concerns that Leaders in the Buddhist world face heading into the next decade as they attempt to link the work of meditation practice with that of social engagement and political action in the 21st Century.
A topic that was ripe for discussion among attendees is that of the accessibilty of Buddhist Practices and Teachings while maintaing the totality and the beauty Buddhist practices and tradition.  
During this afternoon's panel on "Challenges Facing Socially Engaged Buddhism" Alan Senauke warned against what he called  "Burger King Buddhism" where students can "have it their way" and practice a watered down, sampler platter of Buddhism that doesn't really challenge their conditioning.    
Mirabai Bush, founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, told a story of an Economics Professor at Amherst who took students on "mindfulness" field trips to the shopping mall, where he engaged them in experiencing desire, shame and regret in their personal shopping experiences in order for them to make a connection to larger economic systems.
Bikkhu Bodhi, after an admission of being a traditionalist, made a designation between "a moral person with a meditation practice" and "Buddhists" who have a "Transcendent Goal" at the center of their activity.
How did you first get in touch with Buddhist Practices?  Are you "into" the more traditional aspects of it like chanting and robes, or are you more into the philosophy and personal meditation practice?
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The core of Buddhism, even

The core of Buddhism, even traditionally has to do with eliminating ignorance and suffering (the philosophical aspects)... The robes and chanting were always secondary, right? I mean Buddha himself said "I don't care if God exists... We are here to address your suffering" when someone came up to him and asked if God existed

Me, personally I am definitely interested in purely the philosophy of Buddhism. I dabbled in Christianity but Buddhism really resonated with me. The Four Noble Truths are very simple, but are incredibly insightful. When I first learned the basic teachings, a light bulb just sparked in my head, and said "Dude.. this is what you've been missing!"

- Angela of Colon Blog

Zen practioners have nice robes!

The first in depth talk about a subject within buddhism was an IDP podcast on anger in 2007 or 2008. I didn't knew much about buddhism, and I didn't really cared about the robes or anything else. I did know that the Dalai Lama was a buddhist, but that was just about it. What captivated me was the presented philosophy during that particular talk.


As I read the third paragraph of your post regarding accessibility, a vague fearful thought arose that I placed to the side.  A few seconds later, Alan Senauke's warning against "Burger King Buddhism" caused that thought to take up a throne in my mind. 

I talked to this thought for a good half an hour trying to finish this comment.  I have little to show for my efforts.

The discussion must have been very vibrant.

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