The US-based socially engaged Buddhist organization Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), founded by the well-known American monk and scholar Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, has announced its 2022 “Walk to Feed the Hungry,” along with a special event on 29 October called “Creating a More Compassionate World.”
In an announcement this week, BGR noted that the two-hour event will feature world-renowned teachers from a variety of traditions speaking on BGR’s mission to feed the hungry and eradicate chronic malnutrition.
Speakers include Joseph Goldstein, co-founder and guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society; Konjun Gaelyn Godwin, abbot of the Houston Zen Center; Bhante Buddharakkhita, founder and abbot of the Uganda Buddhist Center; Ven. Lekshe Tsomo, founder of the Jamyang Foundation; and BGR founder Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. The emcee will be Ayyā Dhammadīpā, a BGR Board member and founder of the Dassanāya Buddhist Community. A special feature will be the premier of a musical composition by composer Daniel Blake on the Nirvana of Mahapajapati Gotami, the first Buddhist nun.(Buddhist Global Relief)
BGR’s walks to feed the hungry were suspended during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with vaccines widely available and recent variants posing a less serious threat to most people’s health, these events are part of the steady return to in-person activities among Buddhist groups across North America and around the world.
In the place of in-person walks, BGR organized a network of online events to raise awareness and funding. The autumn events overlap with the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. As noted by the United Nations this year: “The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world during the past year has resulted in reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty.” Citing the World Bank, the UN added: “Between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high.” (United Nations)
In a lecture given before the pandemic, Bhikkhu Bodhi pointed to the social, environmental, and economic problems of today as being driven by “the quest for expanding profits, for higher dividends for shareholders, for higher returns on financial investments, for increased capital accumulation, to be achieved by suppressing of wages and benefits for workers, by precarious contract labor, and by weakening (or abolishing) regulations.” (MIT News) He also spoke about the need for justice by fighting racism and police brutality.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bhikkhu Bodhi was first attracted to Buddhism in his early 20s while undertaking graduate studies in philosophy. In 1972 he traveled to Sri Lanka and studied and practiced Buddhism for several years under the late Ananda Maitreya. Along the way, in 1973, he was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk. He became a prolific translator of Pali texts as well as a popular teacher before turning his attention to engaged Buddhism. Today, Bhikkhu Bodhi lives at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York, and is the president of the Buddhist Association of the United States.
Creating a More Compassionate World (Buddhist Global Relief)
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (United Nations)
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi presents moral vision in age of crisis (MIT News)
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