The System Stinks: Sources of Inspiration for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Baroni, Helen
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The paper explores the initial formation of Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) in the late 1970s and its current efforts to recreate itself, with special attention paid to the sources of inspiration for the founders and reformers. BPF, first established in 1978 in the wake of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam and at the height of the anti-nuclear movement, was originally envisioned as a network of local BPF chapters undertaking peacemaking and ecological projects at the regional level. The founders drew inspiration from various historical Buddhist teachers, publishing relevant translations in the newsletter. They shared information related to fellow Buddhists throughout Asia, highlighting their peacemaking efforts and profiling those areas where Buddhists suffered as victims of violence and discrimination. The current leadership faces a very different landscape, socially, politically and technologically. Their current events coverage includes stories related to violence committed by Buddhists. Recognizing that the local chapter model is no longer viable, they envision the organization as a web-based network of likeminded individuals. Reaching out to a younger, less historically-minded generation of Buddhists, the organizers seek to revitalize the movement with an online pedagogy, “The System Stinks,” inspired by an iconographic image of Robert Aitken protesting the second war in Iraq.
Presented at the Numata Conference in Buddhist Studies / “Violence, Nonviolence, and Japanese Religions: Past, Present, and Future,” held in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 20–21, 2014
Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), Buddhism in America, Engaged Buddhism, Robert Aitken, Diamond Sangha
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