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Engaged Buddhism: INEB to Host Three-Day Chaplaincy Workshop for Buddhist Caregivers

Workshop coordinators, from left: Elaine Yuen (USA), Jinji Eika Willingham (USA), Nida Shaikh (India), Rev. Gustav Ericsson (Sweden), and Jonathan Watts (USA/Japan). Image courtesy of INEB

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) is sponsoring an in-person training workshop for Buddhists caregivers under the theme “Concepts & Practices in Chaplaincy,” to be hosted in Thailand from 29 September–1 October.

The three-day event is co-sponsored by the Japan-based International Buddhist Psychotherapy and Chaplaincy Working Group (IBPC), and coordinated in cooperation with the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB), and will be conducted in the lush grounds of INEB’s Wongansit Ashram retreat and training campus just outside of Bangkok.

“This three-day workshop will present the principles of Buddhist chaplaincy and also offer certain key skills and practices to enable committed practitioners (ordained or lay) to serve as caregivers for those experiencing the wide variety of suffering in today’s society,” coordinator Jonathan Watts of the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists explained in an announcement seen by BDG. “Much of this suffering appears as depression, mental ill health, and suicidal ideation, yet emerges from trauma associated with study and work stress, gender and sexual identity, family trauma, social violence, tragic accidents, and so on. The workshop will be led by a team from the International Buddhist Psychotherapy and Chaplaincy Working Group, who have extensive experience in teaching and training Buddhist chaplains.”

The IBPC is an assembly of Buddhist chaplains, Buddhist-based psychotherapists, and Buddhist activists who are engaged in addressing a wide variety of mental health issues. The group was formed by engaged Buddhists who were working to confront Japan’s suicide epidemic. In 2017, the group began creating international events for Buddhists in Asia and in the West, pursuing a deeper understanding of mental health issues and to support those who care for the suffering.

While participation in the event has been capped at 40 people, priority will given to prospective participants from South and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis placed on gender balance. Participants are not required to be ordained monastics, but non-monastics should be committed lay Buddhist practitioners who can demonstrate a level of commitment to working in the field of compassionate care and chaplaincy.

Wongansit Ashram retreat and training campus outside of Bangkok. Image courtesy of INEB

The workshop program will be led by: Elaine Yuen (USA), formerly associate professor of Religious Studies and chair of the Master of Divinity Program at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado; Jinji Eika Willingham (USA), a clinical psychotherapist and Buddhist chaplain in private practice; Nida Shaikh (India), is a mental health practitioner with a masters in Clinical Psychology and a post-graduate diploma in Applied Mahayana and Buddhist Psychology and Ethics; Rev. Gustav Ericsson (Sweden), a Christian priest in the Lutheran Church who has served as a hospital priest and at a hospice for palliative care; and Jonathan Watts (USA/Japan) an engaged Buddhist activist who helped to develop Japan’s first Buddhist chaplaincy training program.

“Chaplains serve as compassionate listeners and guides for those suffering and bring peace and meaning to their difficulties. This approach often requires a retraining of skills that are different from the more traditional religious roles as preacher and teacher of truth,” Watts observed.

“Buddhist chaplaincy has become particularly relevant and increasingly popular in recent years because the practices of meditation and mindfulness serve as important tools in the transformation from preacher to deep listener. Meditation practice inspires and empowers the chaplain to transform the Dharma they have learned in their minds into compassionate care in their hearts. It also helps to develop a powerful embodied presence to walk alongside and bear witness to the suffering of others.”

Click here for information on how to participate or support this event

Wongansit Ashram retreat and training campus outside of Bangkok. Image courtesy of INEB

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) is a worldwide network of individuals and organizations who are committed to promoting and working toward social justice, environmental sustainability, and world peace. INEB was formed in 1989 by the renowned Buddhist scholar and activist Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa and a group of Buddhist leaders seeking to apply the Buddhist teachings and principles to contemporary social and political issues. Through its global network, INEB works to promote understanding, cooperation, and connection among inter-Buddhist and inter-religious groups, and to actively address urgent global issues such as human rights, conflict resolution, and environmental crises. 

INEB emphasizes the importance of developing an ethical, Dharma-based approach to its work, and encourages members to work collaboratively and respectfully with individuals and organizations upon a foundation of shared values and aspirations. The network also advocates the importance of environmental sustainability and the responsible use of natural resources, and has promoted sustainable development practices in various communities.

See more

Concepts & Practices in Chaplaincy: 3-day Workshop for Buddhist Caregivers (JNEB)
Buddhist Psychotherapy & Chaplaincy in Asia (GlobalGiving)
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
INEB – International Network of Engaged Buddhists (Facebook)
Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB)

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