The USA national branch of Sakyadhita
International Association of Buddhist Women
For Buddhist Women in the U.S.A.
Encouraging Inclusion Across American Buddhisms
Held Saturday, April 1, 2017
at University of the West, conference co-sponsor, in Rosemead, CA
(Rosemead is about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles)
Participants at the one-day conference at University of the West, Rosemead, CA, April 1, 2017, co-sponsored by Sakyadhita USA and University of the West.
On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Sakyadhita USA and University of the West co-sponsored a one-day conference for Buddhist women and men, held at University of the West in Rosemead, California. The theme of the conference was: “Diversity in the Dharma: Buddhist Women Engage Race and Exclusionary Politics in America.”
The conference was attended by approximately 80 lay and monastic Buddhist women and men for a day of presentations and discussions centering on exploring ways to open our Sanghas and communities to greater inclusivity across difference barriers. This exploration took as its foundation and guide attendees’ shared practices in Buddhist teachings.
In addition to notable keynote speakers Bishop Myokei Caine-Barrett of the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas and Dr. Pamela Ayo Yetunde, pastoral counselor, theologian and writer, conference participants heard presentations from teachers and lay leaders from several California dharma centers: Against the Stream, Los Angeles; San Francisco Zen Center; East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA; and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
Mid-day, the University of the West food services provided a delicious vegetarian luncheon for all the participants. During breaks, the conference offered an art exhibit of dharma-inspired art by artists Jitsujo Gauthier, Anne Anderson Saizyk, Sanda Thompson, and Leslie Rinchen Wongmo. A local independent bookstore, Vroman’s Bookstore, provided a book table where recent books on race, ethnicity, culture and Buddhist practice were offered for sale. Books by dharma writers and teachers such as Zenju Earthlyn Manual, Rev. angel Kyodo Williams, Jan Willis, Ruth King, and Tara Brach were available and many were purchased by participants.
At the end of the day of presentations, participants were invited to create an Action Plan for themselves or their sanghas using a worksheet available in the day’s program booklet. The worksheet gave participants an opportunity to reflect on the ideas they had learned about in the presentations on ways to open their communities to greater inclusivity. Participants recorded those ideas on the worksheet that they would attempt to practice and to share with their communities.
The day closed as it had opened, with meditation. The closing meditation was followed by a chant from the Saranaloka collection of chants, “Verses for the Sharing of Merit,” led by a Samaneri (novice nun) from the Dhammadharini Sonoma Mountain Bhikkhuni Monastery in Northern California.
The reviews from the conference were uniformly good. Here is a sampling:
What was your overall feeling about the conference?
Inspiring and educational.
I thought it was really good. It was well thought out and there was a good blend of speakers.
Really wonderful. I loved it. I felt there was a great mix of academics, monastics, lay leaders and center directors. Brava!!
The people were warm and the leaders were competent and confident and so sweet. I felt cared for.
It was a positive first experience and I am glad I attended.
It was an informative day. It was worth my time and money. I'd do it again.
What was your opinion of the conference theme: "Diversity in the Dharma"?
I think it was important and was happy to hear all the different perspectives and experiences.
Excellent and timely topic. Well presented from such a varied field of Dharma practitioners.
It's a good theme and could be a living, breathing part of the conference planning process.
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