Bodhidharma [483?-540?] is the reputed founder of ch’an buddhism in China, commonly known in the United States by its Japanese name: zen. I use the image of Bodhidharma to represent zen teachings.
Aldo Leopold [1887-1948] is considered by many to be the father of the modern conservation and environmental movement and the United States’ wilderness system. Among his best know ideas is the “land ethic,” which calls for an ethical, caring relationship between people and nature. His writings have been influential to me and here he represents the present day effort to live in harmony with the earth.
For the longest time, I have been curious and passionate about the intersection of buddhism, zen, social activism, justice, the environment and politics.
With this website I hope to explore that intersection. What does zen buddhism have to do with one’s engagement with the critical social issues that confront us: land, by which I mean soil and everything connected to it, i.e., the ecosphere; social justice; peace and harmony? There will entries on zen, discussion of social issues, short essays on nature and links. I hope some of what is here will be provocative.
Since first encountering buddhism and zen I have felt, at my core, that they offer something very, very important to our social discourse – a critically vital perspective as we collectively do our best to address the conflict, pain and suffering that is in-and-all-around-us in the form of poverty, racial domination, environmental destruction, war, hunger and violence. I have personally tried to find balance and equanimity while effectively engaging in various social change efforts, even in the ego- and conflict-driven settings of a state legislature, a picket line, non-violent direct actions and the hurly-burly world of real estate development. Sometimes I have been successful, sometimes not.
I’ve been a student of zen for over 25 years and a priest and teacher for the last 15. I have been involved in peace, social justice and environmental movements for much longer, starting with the lead-up to the first Earth Day in 1972. Since then I have been an anti-nuclear activist, training college students in nonviolent civil disobedience techniques; Teamster union steward; board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and other non-governmental organizations [NGO]; lobbyist for environmental organizations; social worker in the fields of aging and hospice; executive director of a NGO that provided affordable, supportive housing to people living with HIV/AIDS; and meditation teacher in state prisons.
This website is an experiment, a project in progress.