The System Stinks
Imagine a world in which thousands of people trained in both political transformation and Buddhist practice are helping the arc of history bend toward liberation.
Protecting the planet.
Ending war and violence.
Healing racism and gender oppression.
Creating classless, democratic societies that meet everyone’s basic needs.
And doing it with joy, equanimity, and creativity.
Imagine us working together as political Buddhists and other spiritual activists, in tandem, in alliance with each other.
Ready to dream big with us? Become a BPF member today, and you’ll join our 2013 dialogue series, “The System Stinks.”
What do Buddhists want to talk about?
We need to talk. As Buddhists who care about politics, we need to find each other, learn about one another, and start to discover what role engaged and political Buddhists can play in today’s world.
Watch the video and get a small taste of some of the topics that engaged Buddhists are eager to discuss. In 2013, we at BPF will create a 12-month dialogue and crowdsourced curriculum — hosted online via Turning Wheel Media, with options to participate by phone and in face-to-face, self-organized local study groups.
We will be digging in to big questions with themes like:
Getting Real About Nonviolence
Theft of Land, Theft of Culture
The Lies That Build Empire
Decolonizing Our Sanghas
Learning from spiritual teachers, seasoned activists, and one another, we can study history, examine current conditions, and weave our personal stories of political and spiritual awakening in ways that lovingly and fiercely challenge, rather than simply nice-ify, the status quo.
It’s the System that Stinks
We’re calling the program “The System Stinks” after a favorite protest sign of one of BPF’s founders, Robert Aiken Roshi. If the whole system stinks, we need to identify what causes the smell and neutralize it at the source. A systemic problem requires a systemic solution. As political Buddhists, we need to step up our game, get together, and get much more strategic about working hand-in-hand for liberation.
However we define “The System,” we are it and it is us — there is no separation. All the more reason to find out, as the Buddha did, the roots of our systemic problems and the path to collective liberation. If we don’t try, who will?
Planting seeds for a new harvest of compassionate action
Over the years, Buddhist practice that works with external as well as internal conditions has gone from marginal to mainstream. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is all the rage these days; Buddhist meditation in prisons has flourished; Buddhists are active leaders in anti-death-penalty, animal rights, and environmental movements.
At the same time, we’ve noticed it can be easy for engaged Buddhism to get stuck at the level of the personal and local. How do we take that next step? How do we bring Buddhist political practice beyond the individual and into the collective, the systemic? The scale of stopping climate change, the scale of fostering international solidarity, the scale of transforming economics and eliminating the root causes of poverty?
Despite the higher visibility of engaged Buddhism these days, as political Buddhists it can still be lonely out there, in our sanghas and among other activists. Buddhist Peace Fellowship is one of those few, precious places where you can bring both your Buddhist and activist self, and explore how politics and dharma can support each other. A year-long conversation like “The System Stinks” will help develop a wider network of leaders with strong roots in dharma and collective action.
What you get with The System Stinks curriculum
If you’ve read this far – you’ll want to join us in 2013 for the conversations! Everyone who donates at the $45 level or more ($30 for all the Broke Bodhisattvas out there!) will receive full access to the curriculum of The System Stinks – 6 downloadable themed readers and 12 monthly national phone calls.
We’re making the contemporary writings solicited for The System Stinks freely available online at Turning Wheel Media. We want to help folks talk about these issues, regardless of ability to pay. When you donate, you’ll get special, not otherwise available content including:
- curated content from Turning Wheel Media, so you can know which articles are most relevant to read
- classic, thought-provoking, diverse texts on political theory and Buddhist teachings, selected especially for our discussion
- practical study guides with an intro/overview to the topic, and provocative questions to discuss with other political Buddhists
- access to the national phone calls with prominent Buddhist teachers and political activists. It’s a precious and rare opportunity to connect with other Buddhist activists to explore these big questions!
As a donor at the $45 level or greater ($30 for low-income folks), you’ll also get a one-year membership to the Buddhist Peace Fellowship! If you are already a member, we’ll be sure to extend your membership for a year beyond your current membership expiration date.
Even if these conversations aren’t quite your thing, your donation at any level will help further the conversation about how Buddhist practices can offer not just personal liberation, but can also move us closer to collective liberation from suffering and oppression. If you have an inkling that the spiritual practices of Buddhism might be helpful to the social movements of our time, donate to The System Stinks and support others in exploring this intersection of Buddhism and activism.