Buddhist Responses to Modern Problems
Over the past 2500 years, Buddhism has constantly evolved to meet the needs of new peoples, places, cultures, and contexts. Classical doctrines still form the foundation of its diverse traditions, and yet their reinterpretation empowers them to remain acutely relevant and potently effective in the present. The Dharma itself is said to be like water, taking on the shape of whichever container is offered to hold it. What form must the buddhadharma take right here, right now?
Buddhist Responses to Modern Problems invites innovative thinking about the array of threats, challenges, and conflicts we presently face in the world. Over the course of six weeks this fall, celebrated Buddhist scholars and practitioners will address some of the most pressing and intractable issues of the present day, including ritual during the pandemic; systemic racism and civil unrest; social media and the rise of fascism; and the necessity of renunciation.
A Series of Thursdays, 4:30 – 6:00 pm (Pacific)
September 17 – Keynote: Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Dan Hirshberg
September 24 – Valerie Brown, J.D. – How to Fight Injustice without Hating: Practices of Engaged Buddhism in the Plum Village Tradition
October 1 – Anne Klein, Ph.D. – Divining and Discovery: Ritual Today. On the power of ritual in traditional and contemporary terms: A Dzogchen Lama’s response to Covid in Tibet; core ancient and modern motifs (like death & rebirth); personal reflections on ritual as timeless and a time-capsule too.
October 8 – Ethan Nichtern – Confronting Fascism: Right Speech and Social Media
October 15 – Bhante Jayasara – Drop the World’s Bait’: On the Necessity of Renunciation. Renunciation, or letting go, is the beginning, middle, and end of the Buddhist path. In the early texts Mara is the hunter, we are the deer, and the world’s bait, all of the activities of the world we wish to become involved in, ensnares us in rebirth and suffering. Whether a lay person or monastic, beginner or advanced, the gradual process of letting go eventually leads us to dropping the world’s bait, and seeking peace.
October 22 – Donald Lopez, Ph.D. – Buddhism in the Real World. Buddhism began as an ascetic tradition, one in which monks and nuns went forth from the world in search of a state beyond the world. Apart from its critique of samsara, what does Buddhism have to offer to the solution of social and political problems? This lecture will explore traditional Buddhist theories of time and history in an effort to answer that question.
Saturday, October 24 Panel Discussion, 4:30 – 6:00 pm