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Wed Mar 28, 2012, 11:38 PM

Buddhism in Berkeley

Last weekend I attended a smallish conference in Berkeley called The Economics of Happiness that might interest the sangha here. The conference touched on many of the themes we explore on DU: trans-national corporate hegemony, corporate ownership of politics, climate change, peak oil, food security/GMOs, renewable energy, the global economic crisis, re-localization, taking a systems approach to the unfolding crisis, and generally how to reorganize human affairs around people rather than stuff and money.

There were 250 uber-progressive attendees (hey, it was in Berkeley, right?) and a great presenter list that included Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibbon, Charles Eisenstein (his book The Ascent of Humanity shows how the root cause of the crisis of civilization is dualism) ... and Buddhists Sulak Sivaraksa and Joanna Macy.

It's a remarkable experience to spend three days in the company of 250 other people who Get It. I highly recommend the experience. It taught me how many different ways there are to get it, and how differently each of us respond to that awareness. Also, discussing these things in person is whole different kettle of tofu from doing it on the interweb - even on DU.

There seemed to be three main ways people are responding to their awareness of the predicament.

One was at the institutional level, through direct engagement with the corporate/political world whether through policy or confrontation.

The second was at the community level, by working in small groups to strengthen the personal ties that create community.

The third seemed to be deeply personal, to the point of being overtly spiritual. Usually this wasn't religious (except for a smattering of Unitarians), but there was a very strong aroma of Buddhism wafting through the crowd. This probably happens because a holistic ecological awareness is directly analogous to, and supported by, the various non-dualist spiritual teachings like Buddhism, Taoism and Advaita Vedanta. The Engaged Buddhists were out in force.

The three levels of response tended to overlap, with community action being the common denominator. I didn't get much sense that people with a primarily spiritual response were terribly interested in institutional confrontation, and the reverse was also true. Overall there was an enormous amount of accommodation and respect for other viewpoints (as befits good Buddhists). Though the guy who proposed nuclear energy as a fix for climate change didn't get a terribly sympathetic reception...

Joanna Macy closed the conference on a high note with her "Five Guidelines for Hope":
  1. Come from gratitude.
  2. Link arms - don't even think of doing it alone!
  3. Don't be afraid of the dark.
  4. Make friends with uncertainty.
  5. Act your age (and since you're star-stuff, your age is 13.7 billion years!)
There are a lot of truly wonderful people in this world, and it doesn't take many of them to create an antidote for anger, contraction and despair.

gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

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Reply Buddhism in Berkeley (Original post)
GliderGuider Mar 2012 OP
ellisonz Mar 2012 #1
YankeyMCC Mar 2012 #2
Odin2005 Mar 2012 #3
Ruby Reason Apr 2012 #4

Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 12:29 AM

1. Thank you for posting.

Though the guy who proposed nuclear energy as a fix for climate change didn't get a terribly sympathetic reception...


Too many problems with that one

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 08:27 AM

2. Number 5 is a fantastic way

to express it! And being that old if we're not yet friends with we ought to be familiar with uncertainty, so might as well make friends I guess!


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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 11:29 PM

3. #5 made me LOL!

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Sun Apr 1, 2012, 08:48 AM

4. I learn something useful and hopeful everytime I read a post in this group. Thank you.

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