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INEB Celebrates the 90th Birthday of Exemplar of Engaged Buddhism Sulak Sivaraksa

Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa celebrates his 90th birthday in Bangkok. Photo by the author

The members of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) on Saturday held a public celebration in Thailand to honor the life and legacy of their founder and venerable leading light of the global socially engaged Buddhism movement Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa,* who this month celebrates his 90th birthday.

The vibrant occasion, held in the verdant grounds of The Siam Society (Under Royal Patronage) in Bangkok—the main building of which also marks its own 90th anniversary this year, was attended by a colorful cross section of friends and well-wishers from Thai society and around the world, all of whom came to pay their respects to the venerable teacher and paragon of compassionate social action. Artists, activists, social reformers, scholars, and business magnates gathered in a convivial atmosphere of respect and kalyana-mitrata for an evening that included talks, music and cultural performances, and a theatrical drama.

Although he was unable to attend in person, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shared a personal message of respect with Prof. Sulak for the occasion:

Dear Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa

It is with pleasure that I offer you my congratulations on your 90th birthday.

As you know, we have known each other for so many years. I very much respect and consider you like an elder brother. May I applaud you for the meaningful life you have led.

With my prayers and good wishes,

Yours sincerely,
Tenzin Gyatso

Just some of the artistic offerings shared during the celebrations for Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa. Photo by the author

Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and 1994, and in 1995 a recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award (dubbed the Alternative Nobel Prize), Sulak, who turned 90 on 27 March, has for decades worked tirelessly at the forefront of the engaged Buddhism movement, seeking to empower the downtrodden and to offer the means to radically transform human society to create a more equitable, compassionate world, driven by a spiritual commitment to manifest a model of social development model rooted in the Buddhist teachings and manifested through democracy, justice, and cultural integrity.

The INEB founder, a renowned author, became a recipient of the UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) Award in 1998, the Indian Millennium Gandhi Award in 2001, and the 2011 Niwano Peace Prize Right Livelihood Award. he was also a spiritual friend and student of Thich Nhat Hanh for more than 40 years, drawing inspiration from the Zen master’s teachings and lived example of engaged Buddhism.

The revered Korean Seon (Zen) master, social activist, and patron of INEB, Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, also offered his best wishes for the occasion:

Dear Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa,

I would like to send my most heartfelt congratulations on your 90th birthday.

Ajahn, by founding and nurturing INEB, you left a remarkable footprint in the modern history of Buddhism. The wonderful legacy of yours will be well cherished and furthered by the rest of us.

I wish you good health. Please keep guiding us for many more years.

With Metta,
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim

Belying his years, Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa performs a traditional Thai dance. Photo by the author

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) is a global 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 Prof. Sulak and a group of Buddhist leaders and scholars 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. 

Headquartered in Bangkok, INEB has established a wide range of social projects and outreach programs aimed at overcoming suffering and empowering vulnerable communities through the practice of the Dharma and social engagement, such as education and training programs, community development projects, advocacy and lobbying efforts, and interfaith dialogue.

Friends, admirers, and well-wishers gathered in the grounds of The Siam Society in Bangkok to celebrate the life and legacy of Prof. Sulak Sivaraksa. Photo by the author

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.

INEB emphasizes the importance of developing an ethical, Dharma-based approach to its work, and encourages its members to work collaboratively and respectfully with individuals and organizations upon a foundation of shared values and aspirations. 

* Compassion and Kalyana-mittata: The Engaged Buddhism of Sulak Sivaraksa (BDG)

See more

International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
INEB – International Network of Engaged Buddhists (Facebook)

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