The renowned and internationally respected American peace-builder, psychologist, educator, and engaged Buddhist Dr. Paula Green has died at the age of 84. She passed away on 21 February due to complications related to cancer.
Dr. Green, founder and executive director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding NGO, had 40 years’ experience as a psychologist and a peace educator and mentor in intergroup relations and conflict resolution. She was also on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the steering committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).
“Paula Green was very suddenly diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer, which spread throughout her body. She passed away last night,” shared INEB executive secretary Somboon Chungprampree. “This is very sad news. Paula has contributed so much over many years to the world and to our engaged Buddhist circles.”
Dr. Green received plaudits and international recognition for her peace-building efforts in the Middle East and Bosnia, and was selected as one of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award for 2009, which was presented to her by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in April of that year. The Unsung Heroes award is given to “individuals who, through their loving-kindness and service to others, have made their communities and our world a better place.” She also won the first-ever Prize for US Peacebuilding from the Alliance for Peacebuilding in 2018; the Outstanding Human Rights Activist Award from Kean University in 2015; the Psychology of Peace and Justice Prize from Psychologists for Social Responsibility in 2012; and the Leadership and Service as a Peacemaker Award from the Symposium for Engaged Buddhism in 2010.
“In my journey as a peace-builder, whether in my home country of the US or across the world in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, I have been privileged to serve as a peace-builder, educator, and dialogue facilitator, partnering with courageous and resilient community leaders in some of the world’s most difficult circumstances,” Dr. Green stated about her work. “It has been my mission to encourage those separated by war, enmity, prejudices, or perceived differences to seek understanding, discover common ground, learn new skills, and increase their capacity to promote peaceful societies for the benefit of all.” (Paula Green)
The Massachusetts-based Karuna Center for Peacebuilding (KCP), which Dr. Green founded in 1994, is a nonprofit organization focused on international conflict transformation, cultivating inter-communal dialogue, and working toward reconciliation. Named for the Sanskrit word for compassion, the organizations facilitates post-conflict reconciliation, leading active programs in more than 30 countries across Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and North America. The KCP has worked in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development, US Department of State, the US Institute of Peace, and Fund for Peace.
“Paula was a powerful force for change and will remain a catalyst for peace, having inspired generations of peace-builders to build bridges across seemingly intractable divides with compassion, bravery, and a profound sense of justice,” the KCP said in a memorial notice. “Her legacy lives on in the many people she worked with and the extensive community she built through her transformative life’s work—which included founding both Karuna Center and Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, and co-organizing Hands Across the Hills.” (Karuna Center for Peacebuilding)
In an essay for The Mindfulness Bell journal of the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhists founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, Dr. Paula Green wrote:
Buddhist nonviolence training is currently being used by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the United States, and the International Network of Engaged Buddhist in Thailand, to bring such Buddhist principles as mindfulness and compassionate conduct to further the causes of justice and peace. Thus Buddhist activists add their particular expertise to the growing worldwide commitment to nonviolent social change. . . .
One of Buddhism’s unique contributions to today’s nonviolence movement is its emphasis on the importance of spiritual training to develop the self-knowledge and awareness that creates skillful responses in a violent world. Buddhists understand that to heal self and society are one and the same, that inner and outer work are imperative and interrelated. As one engages in confronting society’s violence one must simultaneously acknowledge and tame the violence within the self. Personal and world peace are linked by the thoughts and actions of every human being; in myriad ways we each contribute daily to a violent or a pleasant world.(The Mindfulness Bell)
As professor emerita at the School for International Training, Dr. Green also founded and directed the Conflict Transformation across Cultures Program (CONTACT), with two annual institutes and a graduate certificate program for peacemakers from around the world. The film Communities in Dialogue: Healing the Wounds of War, documents her years of work for the people of Bosnia.
Our survival depends on a significant portion of the human race accomplishing a change in worldview, from one of patriotic and tribal loyalties to loyalty to life itself.— Dr. Paula Green
Related news reports from BDG
INEB to Host Live Webcast: Thich Nhat Hanh Reflection Series – Mahayana
Engaged Buddhism: INEB Launches Sangha for Peace to Tackle Regional Religious and Ethno-Nationalist Tensions
INEB, Clear View Project Launch Humanitarian Appeal for Buddhist Monastics in Myanmar
Taiwanese Buddhist Master Ven. Shih Chao-hwei Awarded the 38th Niwano Peace Prize
UPDATE: INEB Calls for Reconciliation in Myanmar as Pro-democracy Protests Turn Violent