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As you may have heard, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s 2013 series of dialogues, “The System Stinks” is on the way! We’re going to be talking about true systemic issues, like greed enshrined in capitalism, colonialism in our mind and world, and what we can do about it. At this point, you might be wondering who exactly you’ll be talking to about all this stuff. To give a glimpse into the year ahead, BPF will be posting some interviews with prominent BPF members giving their take on social engagement, Buddhism, and the intersection of the two. Our first interview is with Dharma leader Mushim (Patricia) Ikeda.


Buddhadharma magazine interview forum with Mushim, David Loy and Joan Sutherland, Spring 2012 issue

Download the complete article as a pdf by clicking here

from the introduction by Melvin McLeod: Are we truly inclusive? Does a monolithic political culture serve the dharma well? We talk a lot about diversity—except political diversity. Our panelists acknowledge that people with conservative political and social views often don’t feel at home in Buddhist centers (nor, I must acknowledge, reading Buddhist magazines). People of all types need the dharma, not just educated, middle-class liberals. Is a Buddhist party line keeping people who need it away from the dharma?

There are those who argue that the best way to benefit sentient beings is to leave social and political engagement aside and concentrate on achieving enlightenment. Yet few of us, even the most devoted, will lead lives of full-time practice. We will make our contribution from within society—in our daily practice, in our relationships with those close to us, and in our lives as citizens and members of society. We cannot wait until we achieve enlightenment. We need to act now, offering society our insight and values in the most skillful way we can—and to our surprise, maybe finding realization too.

Tricycle editor Sam Mowe wrote: “In her essay, ‘Not What I Thought,’ Mushim describes an incident at a Thai Buddhist temple in Chicago in the mid-eighties where the bhikkhus declined to invite her to meditate because she was a woman. From there she goes on to reflect on the diversity of North American Buddhism, as well as her place in it. Mushim’s essay is so enjoyable and thought-provoking that I decided to reach out to see if she might talk about some of the ideas she raises a little more in depth. What follows are pieces of our recent email exchange, which explored diversity in a Buddhist context, Occupy Wall Street, and more.