Religious Diversity News

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“Zealots Block Road to Religious Diversity, ” a Commentray by The Rev Clay Nelson

Author: Clay Nelson

Source: The New Zealand Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10424908

If my resistance to deem New Zealand to be a Christian nation makes me a traitor, as Brian Tamaki suggests, take me to the Tower, or the New Zealand equivalent, for it would be greatly preferable to living in such a country.

You might think, then, that I am one of the 48.8 per cent of non-Christian New Zealanders.

I am not. I am an Anglican priest serving an Auckland church. And no, I’m not Bishop Richard Randerson under a nom de plume.

As an immigrant from America I know what it means to live in a Christian nation. That’s why I left. New Zealand’s respect for human rights is why I chose to live here as a permanent resident.

Before Christians hasten to denounce my position, take a close look at the only Christian nation. To be fair it should be described as a Fundamentalist Christian nation.

Such Christians, in my experience, imagine that no faith is more loving or forgiving than theirs, while hating and devaluing all other beliefs. They are totally intolerant of criticism, especially of the Bible they hold inerrant and the doctrines they draw from it.

Zen and a Place for the Art of Meditation

Author: Valentino Lucio

Source: MySA/Express-News

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/religion/stories/MYSA062108.10B.Rel_Zen_Center.EN.3e359f6.html

Nearly a dozen people sit cross-legged with their hands clasped on black cushions. With tranquil faces, they’re situated side-by-side staring at a white wall. The subtle scent of incense lingers in the sitting area. The room is quiet except for the faint sound of people breathing.

For an hour, members of the San Antonio Zen Center will be in a meditative state.

The ability to be in the moment through meditation is something members of the Zen Center have been practicing for years. Their personal experiences are reflected in their quiet demeanor and the still minds they shape.

“My experience here feels just like family,” said member Alan Loo, who works in customer service for a gas company. “It has helped to calm my life and make me able to adapt to the rest of the world. Because of my job, I need to always remain calm and keep my sanity. This helps me deal with change and chaos more effectively.”

Established in 2003, the San Antonio Zen Center has practiced in many locations, including a living room, a church and the Shambala Meditation Center. After outgrowing each place, members collected funds and sought a new place to sit. Located in a small, two-bedroom, beige house on the West Side, the Zen Center now has a place to call home.

Zen And the Art Of Saving the Planet

Author: Nick Harding

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Independent

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=6,9416,0,0,1,0

As a vision of the future, the community of Plum Village in the French wine region of the Dordogne doesn’t conform to stereotype. It doesn’t bristle with technology, scientific endeavour and cutting-edge innovation. It is austere, tranquil and basic, and it is inhabited by brown-robed monks.

Yet this co-operative of three hamlets that includes fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, dormitories, temples and meditation halls is the headquarters of a monastic order that is at the forefront of a grassroots green movement, attracting increasing numbers of inquiries from people disaffected with modern living and looking for a greener, more sustainable future.

Plum Village is the headquarters of The Order of Interbeing, a Buddhist movement that is tapping into the post-financial meltdown zeitgeist and drawing hundreds of new devotees each year. At a time when most monastic orders are suffering a crisis of faith and dying out, the Order of Interbeing is expanding across the globe, broadcasting its underpinning ideology of sustainability and mindful consumption as it grows. And while the numbers of green-living monks in its monasteries increases, the order’s outreach programme is connecting with tens of thousands of young people thanks to its internet presence and regular retreats.

Zen Buddhism Grows in Eugene Oregon

Source: The Register Gaurd

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/06/23/a1.buddhist.0623.html

On June 23, 2004 The Register Gaurd reported on “Eugene Zendo, a Buddhist community that got its start five years ago as a meditation ‘sitting group.’ The community took root two years ago in a west Eugene home – after efforts to establish a sanctuary in a rural neighborhood just south of Spencer Butte fizzled in the face of adjacent landowner opposition. This week, the community’s benefactor, a 76-year-old monk from Japan, arrives to dedicate the meeting place as a fully recognized temple of the Soto Zen branch of Buddhism.

The ceremony showcases a long-standing – and apparently growing – interest in Buddhism among Eugene’s ranks.”

Zen Buddhism in West Differs from Japanese Roots

Source: Beliefnet.com

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/142/story_14227_1.html

On March 29, 2004 Beliefnet.com posted an excerpt from “The Path of the Human Being” by Dennis Genpo Merzel, a Zen Buddhist monk. Under the heading “The Dharma Doesn’t Discriminate,” Beliefnet printed a section of the book dealing with Zen’s adaptation to Western culture. Merzel writes, “Are we simply trying to act Buddhist, or is the living Dharma still maintained somehow in these ancient rituals? This is a fair and important question to ask. Although Zen Buddhism didn’t become strongly established in America until the 1960s, the practice has since gone through many changes. In fact, the way we Westerners practice Zen is nearly unrecognizable to a monk from Japan…Zen teachers in the West are struggling with the question of how much change can be introduced without risk of losing the living essence of the Dharma. Each one of us must accept the responsibility of bringing Zen into our culture in a way that seems right. One of the beauties of Zen always has been its ability to adapt to new situations, to fill any container into which it is poured. Western culture is the new pot that is being filled by Zen — and for everyone, whether we’re a teacher or a beginning student, our body is a container for the practice. Zen will fill this container perfectly.”

Zen Buddhism Sings Softly In The Hills

Author: Peter Fabricius

Source: The Independent Online/The Pretoria News

http://www.iol.co.za/travel/south-africa/kwazulu-natal/zen-buddhism-sings-softly-in-the-hills-1.1007400

The Buddhist Retreat Centre at Ixopo is synonymous with its founder, Louis van Loon, who arrived in South Africa from Amsterdam as a 20-year-old in 1956 with one suitcase full of old clothes and another filled with art materials. He wasn’t sure whether he was going to pursue a career in civil engineering, in which he had just qualified, or try his luck at being an artist. Either way, he was seeking adventure in a faraway country.

 

He found it.

Zen Buddhist Monk Aids Peace Efforts In Native Belfast

Author: Damien Okado-Gough

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Japan Times

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=9,8326,0,0,1,0

When the Zen monk Dogen Zenji returned to Japan from China in 1227 with the ideas that would become the Soto school of Zen, could he have imagined that centuries later, on the other side of the world, those very ideas would be used by people to try to overcome their society’s deeply rooted conflict? Most likely not, but that is exactly what is happening.

In Northern Ireland, which is primarily known in Japan as a place of violent, religious conflict, small Soto Zen groups have been formed and are flourishing.

The people behind this unlikely development began by bringing together former combatants from the two conflicting groups, the Irish-Catholic and British-Protestant communities, and using Dogen Zenji’s ideas to help them overcome their differences. To tell the story of how this came about it would be best to tell the story of the man who started it all — Irishman Paul Haller Roshi.

Haller is the abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, but he spends his time between San Francisco and Ireland, working with the Zen groups he helped establish and overseeing their peace-building work.

Originally from the Falls Road area of Belfast, he witnessed his society collapse into bitter sectarian conflict as a young engineering student in the late 1960s.