Lifelong Oakland resident Maurice Johnson was leaving Starbucks on Sunday, Aug. 31 when he heard drumming and the sound of Japanese monks chanting the first line of the Lotus Sutra. Johnson then saw nine members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), all in meditation posture, risking arrest by blocking the Oakland Marriott City Center’s main entrance. A banner at their feet read “Evict Urban Shield.” On the other side the hotel’s front driveway, about 25 other BPF members meditated silently with signs that called for an end to police militarization.
The protest’s Buddhist packaging surprised Johnson at first, but he understood its message instantly.
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Tensions continued to escalate in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9. His death set off days of protests and a heavy-handed, militarized police response that has sparked national outrage.
But Ferguson residents got a pleasant surprise on Sunday: A visit from a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks.
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“The name ‘Bahrain’ means ‘two seas,’” our tour guide explained as we walked away from the old Portuguese fort on the outskirts of Manama. “There’s the saltwater sea that surrounds Bahrain. Then there’s the fresh water that bubbles up in the middle of the sea to our north.”
The fort itself is breathtaking, set on a hill overlooking the city on one side and the ocean on the other. Next to it stands a brand new visitors’ center, replete with a gift shop and an upscale café. A few yards away stand new, middle-class houses. But next to them stand shanties, all crumbling cinderblock and chipping paint and rusted tin.
Still in the grips of a two-year uprising, Bahrain is a country filled with such extreme economic contradictions.
Continue reading this article at GlobalPost …
When I showed up, the room at Harvard Divinity School was already overflowing. World-renowned professors and undergrads alike were packing the aisles, standing in the doorways, and squeezing in behind furniture. At the front of the room stood Bhikkhu Bodhi—a short, soft-spoken Buddhist monk with a marked Brooklyn accent—who held the audience rapt even as he explained dry, technical details of meditation.
Born Jeffrey Block, Bikkhu Bodhi has a PhD in philosophy and years of monastic training in Sri Lanka. However, it wasn’t his impressive abilities as a translator and scholar that brought me there that day. Since returning to the States Ven. Bodhi has established himself on the forefront of Buddhist social justice movements.
Read the rest of this article at Religion Dispatches …
There was an infection restlessness in the air as Marisa Egerstrom climbed the bandstand at Boston Common to address the 300-strong crowd at Occupy Boston’s first general assembly. Egerstrom and fellow faith activists from Boston—they called themselves the Protest Chaplains—had just come from the first days of Occupy Wall Street. A week later Occupy Boston would set up its own camp in Dewey Square.
Egerstrom spoke at length with Spare Change News about Occupy Boston, the spread of the Protest Chaplains, and her ongoing work to bridge communities of faith and communities of protest.