A Conference on Interbeing: Transforming Conflict by Compassion with Exposure and Retreat
“The Challenge for Engaged Buddhism in the Next Decade”
November 22-29, 2017, Hong-Shi Buddhist College, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Some 2,500 years later, humanity seems to be more tangled that it has ever been. Facing environmental crisis and continuing violent conflict, many seem to be turning inward and away from the embrace of a world of inclusivity, where we overcome the constructed barriers of our diverse identities to rebuild our mother earth and find a new home upon it. . The role of institutionalized religion in this struggle is debatable. Is it a source of continued division and intolerance or a platform to develop common values and infuse our economic and political systems with ethics? Socially engaged Buddhism has been a movement oriented to the second of these possibilities. Emerging out of the anti-colonial struggles of the peoples of Asia, socially engaged Buddhism has flowered over the last three decades into an incredible diversity of movements—holistic community development in Sri Lanka and Thailand, suicide prevention and psycho-spiritual care in Japan, meditation for application in modern medical science in the U.S and Europe, campaigns for social justice and equality in India, and a growing movement for environmental justice world wide—to name just a few.
The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), founded in 1989, has been an integral part of many of these developments, identifying and nurturing grassroots initiatives in localities all over Asia and linking them together in a global network for holistic, inclusive, and non-violent social transformation. The immense complexity of our worlds—so interconnected by internet technology yet so fragile, as seen in recent political and cultural shifts away from this interconnectedness—have more deeply awakened those of us at INEB towards taking new steps in our collective struggle. We feel we must now double-down on our efforts to realize over the next decade four essential goals for the livelihood of our planet, which make up our Roadmap for Socially Engaged Buddhism for the Next Decade: [in graphic below: “Peace” and “Wholeness”]
- Environmental integrity, which consists of the integration of inner and outer ecology
- Cultural inclusivity and diversity, which are essential to a vibrant and healthy system at any level
- Inner peace, and the need for experiential forms of inner development to empower psychological wholeness
- Social justice, and the creation of larger political and economic systems that nurture ecology, diversity, and inner peace.
A Conference on Interbeing: Transforming Conflict by Compassion
As INEB seeks to further empower its own network and support efforts by like-minded colleagues from different faiths and different fields of endeavor, we will host the 18th International Conference as part of this roadmap for the coming decade in Taiwan in November, 2017 entitled “A Conference on Interbeing: Transforming Conflict by Compassion”. While environmental integrity, cultural inclusivity & diversity, inner peace & psychological wholeness, and socio-political justice constitute our goals, compassion is one of our principle means, and conflict is our field. In keeping with our core Buddhist view of non-duality, conflict provides a rich field for our practice, without which we could not practice compassion. Therefore, conflict is not our enemy, but actually the ground for realization, hence we transform conflict as we realize compassion, the two working together in a creative dynamic. In our conference, we will investigate these themes further through a program of exposure, conference, and retreat covering one week.
- Exposure Days (Nov. 22-23): two days of visiting two of Taiwan’s prominent Buddhist orders, Dharma Drum Mountain and Tzu Chi Foundation, with a variety of special exposures to Taiwanese engaged Buddhism, the Buddha Educational Foundation including a symposium on dying and hospice care, a visit to a Buddhist hospital, and a massive, elderly volunteer run recycling campaign.
- Conference Days (Nov. 24-26): two and a half days of general conference to delve into the conference theme of “Interbeing, Transforming Conflict by Compassion” while engaging in a deeper exploration of Taiwanese engaged Buddhism. Afternoons will be spent learning and engaging with the wider INEB community on the many interests and activities of the international network, which include Taiwanese engaged Buddhist activities. The conference will conclude with reflections and action plans from these afternoon sessions, an update on INEB’s 10-Year Road Map for Socially Engaged Buddhism, and a final reflection from our Taiwanese hosts.
- Retreat Days (Nov. 27-29): three days of post-conference meditation and practice retreat to internalize our experiences, reflect on them, and integrate them into our spiritual practice and daily lives. For realizing this, we have identified three sequential touchstones of Buddhist practice: the development of mindfulness, the cultivation of compassion, and the realization of transformation. Three leading female Dharma teachers from different traditions will lead the retreat, offering instructions on practice, dharma teachings, and perspectives on connecting them to our lives of social engagement.