Buddhist Responses to Modern Problems

 Buddhist Responses to Modern Problems

Buddhist Responses to Modern Problems

Oct 08, 2020, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

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

Register for the whole series or individual sessions.  Zoom links will be emailed 3 days before each event.  All who register for any of the series are invited to the panel discussion and will receive the Zoom link.

Registration for the full series will include access to recordings of  past dates.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher and the author of Emotional Rescue, Rebel Buddha, and many other books. A lover of music, art, and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher, and visual artist.
Acknowledged as one of the foremost scholars and meditation masters of his generation in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche is known for his sharp intellect, humor, and easygoing teaching style. In 2017, he launched the initiative #GoKind to celebrate and encourage acts of kindness around the world.

Valerie Brown, J.D.

Valerie is an ordained Dharma Teacher in the Plum Village tradition founded by Thich Nhat Hanh and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career as a lawyer-lobbyist to human-scale, equity-centered work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy, compassionate, and authentic connections. She is an accredited leadership coach, international retreat leader, writer, and Founder of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness and leadership, and is a Co-Director of Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. As certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she helps leaders discover the wisdom of the body. She leads an annual transformational pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain, to celebrate the power of sacred places.

Anne Klein, Ph.D.

Anne Carolyn Klein, Rigzin Drolma, is Professor and a former Chair of Religion at Rice University and a founder of Dawn Mountain, Center for or Tibetan Buddhism dawnmountain.org. In work and life, she’s interested in the kinds of conversations we have across our basic platforms of mind and body, thought and direct experience. Her training, in addition to her academic degrees, includes close study with major Tibetan Lamas in three of Tibet’s great traditions, with about ten years overall spent living with these teachers. Her research, writings and teaching-retreats draw from all these, with special emphasis on Nyingma and Heart Essence traditions’. Her seven books include the recently re-issued Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse: A Story of Transmission; also Meeting the Great Bliss Queen, and Unbounded Wholeness: Dzogchen and the Logic of the NonConceptual with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, All examine the interplay between head and heart, mind and body in order to differentiate the ordinary and rarified ways of knowing so intimately described in Buddhist traditions of scholarship and meditation.

Ethan Nichtern

Ethan Nichtern is a senior Buddhist teacher. From 2010-2018 he served as the teacher in residence for the Shambhala NYC community. He is the author of The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path (FSG Books, North Point, 2015), The Dharma of The Princess Bride: What The Coolest Fairytale of Our Time Can Teach Us About Buddhism and Relationships (FSG Books, North Point, Sep 2017) and One City: A Declaration of Interdependence (Wisdom Publications, 2007). The Road Home was named to Best Books of 2015 lists by both Library Journal and Tech Insider.
Ethan is also the founder and former director of The Interdependence Project, an organization dedicated to Buddhist-inspired meditation and psychology, transformational activism, mindful arts, and meaningful media. He teaches and lectures around the world and is based in New York City.

Bhante Jayasara

Bhikkhu Jayasāra, or “Bhante J” as most call him, is an American born Buddhist monastic who currently resides at Bhavana Society of West Virginia. He came to Buddhism in his late 20s and officially took refuge and precepts to become a practicing Buddhist lay disciple on Vesak in 2008. in 2011 He took the Eight Lifetime Precepts with Bhante Gunaratana and was given the name Jayantha.

By this point the practice had instilled in him a desire to become a monastic. Bhante J began to regularly attend retreats and weekend visits to Bhavana and learned all he could about the monastic life. While searching for the journeys of people on their journey into homelessness, and document his own journey in the blog series “A Journey Into Homelessness” on the youtube channel “Student of the Path” was born. Followed shortly after by Student of the Path Tumblr Blog “jayantha.tumblr.com” .

He became a Sāmaṇera in October of 2015 and most recently his Upasampadā, or higher ordination to Bhikkhu in October of 2016.

Donald Lopez, Ph.D

Donald Lopez is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, where he also serves as chair of the Michigan Society of Fellows. His publications fall into four areas: Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, the European encounter with Buddhism, the life and works of Gendun Chopel (1903-1951), and anthologies and reference works. His recent books include Gendun Chopel: Tibet’s Modern Visionary, Two Buddhas Seated Side by Side: A Guide to the Lotus Sūtra (with Jacqueline Stone), and Beautiful Adornment of Mount Meru, a translation of Changkya Rolpai Dorjé’s grub mtha’. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (with Robert Buswell) won the Dartmouth Medal for best reference work of 2014. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

Dan Hirschberg, Ph.D.

Dan Hirshberg, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington, where he serves as Director of the Contemplative Studies program and Associate Director of the Leidecker Center for Asian Studies. Intensively studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism over the past 25 years, he has travelled extensively throughout Buddhist Asia and received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2012. His first book, Remembering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age (Wisdom Publications, 2016), focuses on cultural memory and Tibet’s 8th ce. conversion to Buddhism. It won Honorable Mention (second place) for the E. Gene Smith Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. He has been a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and a member of the Nitartha Translation Network since 2004. In 2020–21 he is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center.


Bookings are closed for this event.