Activists, academics and celebrities to honor socially engaged buddhism at first major Symposium in Montague, MA


What do Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Peter Matthiessen have in common? They'll be among those appearing at the first Western Socially Engaged Buddhism Symposium, a major gathering of activists, academics, and famous supporters of the socially engaged Buddhist movement, to be held at Zen Peacemakers in Montague, MA from August 9-14, 2010, with events open to the public. 'Many people think that Buddhists only sit on cushions and meditate,' says Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers and a pioneer in socially engaged Buddhism. 'In fact, however, increasing numbers of American Buddhists are feeding the hungry, working on environmental issues, caring for the sick and the dying in hospitals and in hospices, teaching prisoners, and serving those neglected by society. We're excited to be offering this important and ground-breaking symposium to honor the leaders of socially engaged Buddhism in the West, and to inform people about their valuable work.' The symposium will combine lively and provocative educational workshops and discussion groups with a dazzling array of entertainment. Among dozens of workshops and discussions offered, topics will include 'Social Entrepreneurship,' 'Internet and Media,' 'Zen Houses,' 'Politics and Justice,' 'Race and Diversity,' 'Mental Health,' 'Challenges for Socially Engaged Buddhism,' and, on August 12, 'Environment,' in which best-selling authors Matthiessen and Daniel Goleman will participate. Entertainment includes Bridges on August 13 (sold-out), singing and performing on guitar in the rollicking style that won acclaim in his Oscar-winning performance as country-and-western musician Bad Blake in the recent film 'Crazy Heart'; an original theater production, 'Ambush on T Street,' featuring noted local performers Court Dorsey, Al Miller, and John Sheldon on August 12; and renowned Beat poet Anne Waldman reading on August 14. Keynote speakers will include well-known Buddhist scholars and writers such as Robert Thurman and Jon Kabat-Zinn. 'This promises to be a landmark event in American Buddhism,' Glassman says. The Symposium will be held on the Zen Peacemakers' beautiful rural campus in Montague, close to Amherst, Northampton, and Greenfield, and easily accessible from Interstate 91. For more information, or to register, please call Laurie Smith, registrar, at 413-367-5272, or e-mail her at, or go to the website,

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