18 May – 31 May 2020
Buddhist Hongshi College, Taoyuan, Taiwan

 

The Crises Facing Our World

A common phenomenon that can be observed in the countries where members of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) bodhisattvas been operating, especially in South and Southeast Asia, is that the people have not yet achieved enduring peace and social justice. Every country continues to be influenced by capitalism and authoritarianism from the colonial era until the recent era of globalization. A common experience shared by Third World countries is a domination by the business corporate sector and non-democratic or pseudo-democratic governments. These two sectors’ powerful influence has an adverse impact on everyone.

We have also become increasingly aware that the predominant threat to the planet is the ecological price of high human consumption. Values such as simplicity, sufficiency, and sharing within the community have gone by the wayside or minimized as they are fueled by a capitalistic ideology that relies on mass production to maximize profit.

This change increased greed-based values such as selfishness, competition, oppression, and exploitation among humans and against nature. These conditions make achieving real peace in any context difficult. Instead, structural violence and injustice have created conditions of poverty, ecological crisis, hunger, human rights violations, discrimination, and conflicts at many levels.

When material development becomes both the overarching personal and national goal, it overshadows values such as compassion, simplicity, forming relationships, sharing, and forgiveness. The degradation of the human spirit is, in fact, due to many factors. Firstly, it becomes more difficult for people resist the temptations of indulgence, wealth, and fame that the modern world presents to them. Additionally, people become victims—forced to struggle and survive in violent, corrupt, and unjust social structures.  We can see those forces also eroding many societies’ traditions.

The future of humankind relies on its young generation. However, growing up in divided societies makes it very difficult for youth to realize their potential and positively contribute to society. Young people’s vitality is expended because of the impact of structural violence, namely—poverty, ill health, and many other social and economic inequities in education, housing, employment, and so forth. These conditions create disparities and instability, particularly in communities where development is imbalanced.

What Can Buddhist Thinkers and Social Activists Do?

Some Buddhist thinkers and social activists have proposed alternative views and practices to create societies based on compassion and non-violence, which are key Buddhist values. These are intended to address and transform the negative outcomes brought about by the development route that many Third World countries have taken.

What the Buddha set forth more than 2,500 years ago was a means of discovering truth/dharma. These truths, passed down to us through the ages, transcend time and remain relevant today.

In modern times, the Buddha’s teachings are being applied across Asia—via many means—to achieve social justice and equity. The Dharmic socialism by Bhikkhu Buddhadasa, Meritism (as opposed to capitalism) by the Asoke Network, Ajaan Sulak Sivaraksa’s teachings on critical thinking, and discourses on Gross National Happiness are just a few examples.

Other experiments include the Samdrup Jonghkar Inititative (inspired by Buddhist teachers such as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche). Buddhist models of leadership and governance have been seen in the model of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Samdhong Rinpoche, as well as peace and ecological actions by many Buddhist movements of the Karmapa and Thich Nhat Hanh. There are more strong and substantial movements of socially engaged Buddhism becoming internationally renowned, beyond Asia.

The involvement of youth is vital in the pursuit of genuine peace and social justice. As youth (Buddhist and others) realize their human potential to contribute to deep and lasting social change, the timeless teachings of the Buddha can serve as road maps for a harmonious world.

The International Young Bodhisattva Program

The International Young Bodhisattva Program (18-31 May 2020), established by INEB in conjunction with Buddhist Hongshi College, aims to develop young people’s confidence, capacity, and commitment for social and spiritual transformation. It is an exposure program for youth to learn about social engagement—centered on values of lovingkindness and compassion—in Asia, particularly in the context of Taiwan.

Who Would Benefit from This Program?

Everyone can benefit! Whether you were born in a Buddhist family, came to Buddhism on your own, or do not identify as a Buddhist at all, this program is designed to strengthen your understanding of the roots of “dukkha” or “suffering’ in our modern societies, as well as potential ways to address them.

Applicants should:

  • Possess strong English language capacity
  • Be 18-40 years of age
  • Demonstrate interest in Buddhism, spirituality, personal & societal transformation, social engagement & change

 

What Will You Learn from Taiwan & This Program?

The content is based on a three-mode learning process involving intellectual, spiritual and physical practice. Sessions will include panels, discussions, community building activities, meditation practice, as well site visits to understand opportunities and challenges for social engagement in Taiwan, and the role played by Buddhists and other activists.

Participants will learn from teachings of the Buddha Dharma’s Four Noble Truths to develop an analysis of societal structures and institutional sources of power and use various tools to critically examine and investigate conditions in their lives and communities. Participants will also build connections and a network of kalyanamitta comprised of other youth and elders, teachers, and resource people—from across Asia and other parts of the world.

Participants will also visit civil society organizations, government agencies, and Buddhist institutions in Taiwan. These exposures are intended to offer examples of pioneering work on the environment, gender and sexuality, democracy and free speech, and chaplaincy and palliative care on the island.

Finally, participants will be asked to conduct mapping exercises on social engagement in their countries and create action plans to consider what contributions they can bring home and how they can foster future leadership in their communities.

Tentative Content

  • What is Engaged Buddhism
  • Buddhist Health & Exercise
  • Site Visits on Civil Society & Government Action (e.g., LGBTQ rights & environmental issues)
  • Analysis of “Social Dukkha” and Power & Structural Inequality
  • Meditation & Nature Retreat
  • Suicide Prevention: Role of Buddhists in Taiwan & Japan
  • End of Life Care: Role of Buddhists in Taiwan & Japan
  • The Opportunities and Risks of Media & Big Data
  • Site Visit to Tzu Chi: Buddhist Role in Healthcare & Waste Management

 

After Completing This Program, Participants Will:

  • Possess wider understanding of Taiwan and its noteworthy examples of engaged Buddhism
  • Identify ways to bring Bodhisattva intent and motivation into their communities
  • Initiate plans to nurture other future leaders in their lives
  • Develop foundational tools and frameworks to analyze social structures and address dukkha on personal and societal levels
  • Build a network of people with shared values to support them in their goals
  • Gain more confidence
  • Demonstrate greater critical thinking ability

TO APPLY

Please complete and submit this form by 31 January 2020: https://forms.gle/RTL5gomYK5NqKWda8

Total Cost (including learning content, room & board): USD 500
Selected participants are responsible for the costs of own airfare and visa fees.

Requirements for Selected Participants:

  • BEFORE THE PROGRAM: Study the advance reading packet.
  • DURING THE PROGRAM: Attend all activities. Prepare a short presentation on your background AND a short introduction to engaged Buddhism in your country.
  • AFTER THE PROGRAM: Write and submit two-page paper with: A) Reflections on the program and B) Your action plan. Paper is due within 1 month after completing the program.

Timeline:

  • 31 January 2020: Application deadline
  • 20 February: Selected participants are notified
  • 20 Feb-15 March: Applicants purchase air tickets and apply for visas
  • 18 May: Program begins (all participants should plan to arrive before 4pm)
  • 31 May: Program ends (participants should plan to depart after 12pm)

 

For more information, please visit: http://inebnetwork.org/engagements/young-bodhisattva

More questions? Email us! conference@inebnetwork.org