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.

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