Is an inquiry into inclusion or the absence thereof too amorphous? too ambiguous? too unrealistic?
Not if it’s about applying the Dharma practically in each of our lives, so that change begins with me.
On Inclusion! isn’t a one-time inquiry. This is a vigilant and supportive inquiry toward our thoughts, words, and actions --as individuals, communities, and a society-at-large.
Our collective inquiry on October 31st in Toronto can only hope to yield diligent application of effort but not likely quick solutions.
We cannot dismiss the powerful symbolic effect of numerous Buddhist traditions coming together and dialoguing about issues of inclusion in our region.
Conventionally, we must first acknowledge that in the West, lines of division cultivated knowingly or unknowingly by prejudice exist. Sectarianism, racism, and sexism exist.
May we set an example for others in our attempt to cross divides.
Please RSVP and show your support for On Inclusion! here: https://naba-on-inclusion.eventbrite.com
If you can't make it in-person, join us online here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/79c67b2135c0c3284ac87b605f06faf5
The webcast may not broadcast all programming, so please join us in-person if you can, even this late in stage!
Bhikkhu Mihita is a Canadian Buddhist pioneer featured in Canadian Who’s Who, Wild Geese, Buddhism in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press), “National Treasure” (Vision TV) and others for his lifetime achievements.
Life-long teetotaler and non-smoker, here are select examples of his many contributions. In 1981, he organized in Toronto the first pan-Buddhist Vesak celebration in North America. As the Founding Coordinator of the Buddhist Federation of Toronto and later President, Buddhist Council of Canada, he presented Buddhism to Canadians over TV, radio and newspaper(Columnist, Toronto Star).
Member of the Interfaith Ad Hoc Committee on the Canadian Constitution, he was active in Buddhist-Christian as well as Buddhist-Jewish Dialogue, serving on the North American Interfaith Network as well. Most recently (2018), he initiated Cubans into Buddhism. In 2017, he led Cubans of all walks of life in meditation, all this preceded by Seminars on Buddhism at University of Havana (2012, 2017).
Formerly of Trinity Divinity, University of Toronto, he was known as Professor Suwanda H J Sugunasiri. US Fulbright scholar (1964), his academic credentials come from the Universities of London, Philadelphia, Michigan and Toronto. Founder of Nalanda College of Buddhist Studies (2000), he is Founding Editor of Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies (2005). A prolific communicator, and multidisciplinologist, his long list of publications, on Buddhism (including meditation) and more, span academia, translation, literature, fiction and poetry. His most recent research and publications seek to establish Buddhadhamma as Science - empirical, objective and ‘timeless’ (*akaliko*), i.e., unproven wrong for 2500 years, thus labelling it Buddhianscience.
Ven. Bhante Saranapala
- Global Teacher of Mindfulness Meditation,
- Founder & President of “Canada: A Mindful and Kind Nation”)
- Recipient of “Canada 150 Medal and Sesquicentennial Community Award” from the Government of Canada
- Recipient of Spirit Award of the Government of Ontario
- Buddhist Chaplain of the University of Toronto
- Deputy Abbot of the West End Buddhist Temple and Meditation Centre in Mississauga
- Formal Canadian Representative to the World Buddhist Summit Headquarters in Japan
- Steering Committee member of Parliament of World's Religions Toronto 2018 and Co-Chair of the Pre-Parliament Events of the Parliament of World's Religions Toronto 2018
Known as the "Urban Buddhist Monk", an appropriate nomenclature for a Buddhist Monk for modern times, Bhante Saranapala has been acclaimed as a consummate teacher of meditation by a growing number of seekers of the Buddhist Way of Life in North America and Europe who admire his simple and all-embracing approach in transmitting the universal message of love, understanding and compassion of Buddha. He has earned an enviable reputation as a preacher and a meditation master par excellence. Born in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Bhante Saranapala, after receiving both his monastic and secular education in Sri Lanka, made his way to Canada to further his studies (completed his undergrad and grad studies at the University of Toronto and McMaster University) and soon addressed his mind to the noble task of spreading in the West his own tested approach to Mindfulness and Insight Meditation. Settling down in the City of Mississauga / Toronto West, he has been a monk in residence at the monastic fraternity of the West End Buddhist Temple and (Monastery) Meditation Centre for the past 24 years.
Chris Ng, CPA CMA MBA, was born in China and was raised in Hong Kong. Her early exposure to religious practices was that of Chinese folk religion in the family, and Christianity in the school. Her introduction to Buddhism came from books. When she came to Canada, she met some Buddhist friends at the University of Toronto who later formed the Toronto Buddhist Society. It was the beginning of her Buddhist journey.
In the 1980’s, she served as Secretary for the Toronto Buddhist Society which volunteered with various Buddhist organizations in Toronto. The executives of the society were also active in organizing joint Wesak celebrations by communities from the three Buddhist traditions. She then on her own became involved in organizing a number of such intra-faith celebrations in Toronto in the 1990’s.
This journey of Buddhist social engagement led her to advocating for the revival of Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto in the late 1990’s through the Buddhist Student Association and the University of Toronto Buddhist Community, culminating in the “Save and Build Buddhist Studies at U of T Campaign” in 2002-2004. In 2001, she co-founded the Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada that financially supports Buddhist studies in Canadian universities. She currently serves as its President. Since 2013, the foundation has been working with Emmanuel College, and since 2015 with the Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Toronto, on Buddhist spiritual care educational programming and Fellowships in Buddhism and Psychiatry.
Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies and one of the founding faculty at Buddhist-inspired, non-sectarian Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She is an Acharya (senior empowered teacher) with the Shambhala lineage of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and teaches mindfulness and compassion internationally. She serves on the Board of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies and has been active in interreligious dialogue internationally since the 1980’s. Currently she co-chairs the American Academy of Religion's Contemplative Studies Unit, and contributes to the field of Contemplative Studies. She lectures and writes on Tibetan Buddhism, American Buddhism, women and Buddhism, and interreligious dialogue. Her books are Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala) and Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy in the Religious Studies Classroom (SUNY).
Lynette Monteiro, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice, Clinical Professor (University of Ottawa), and co-founder of the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic (OMC). Born in Rangoon, Burma, she was strongly influenced by Catholicism and Buddhism. In 1965, she immigrated to Montreal, Canada, she found herself retaining the meditative practices of Buddhism that she learned in childhood and which seemed to surface as coping strategies in stressful situations.
With the advent of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, she entered into the field of Mindfulness Interventions in 2003. She is trained in MBSR, MBCT, MiCBT, Buddhist Chaplaincy, and is Certified as a Teacher of Mindful Self Compassion.
Mindfulness Starts Here: An eight-week guide to skillful living is Lynette’s first book, co-authored with her partner, Frank Musten, and is the culmination of her aspiration to make the simplicity of mindfulness practices accessible to everyone. Her writings on Buddhism are published at 108 Zen Books and writings on Mindfulness are found here in the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic blog. Articles in peer-reviewed journals are available on Academia.edu. Her contributions to edited books include Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness (Springer 2015) and Lotus Petals in the Snow: Voices of Canadian Buddhist Women (Sumeru Press 2015). She is co-editor of A Practitioner’s Guide to Ethics and Mindfulness Based Interventions (Springer 2017).
Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, D. Min. is a Buddhist priest, ordained (1980) in the 750-year-old Jodoshinshu tradition of Japanese Buddhism. He is a President and Founder of Heiwa Peace and Reconciliation Foundation of New York. He is an executive officer, and former President of the Buddhist Council of New York. Rev Nakagaki is a Hiroshima Peace Ambassador, Nagasaki Peace Correspondent, and New York City Police Department Clergy Liaison.
Since 1994, he has organized an Interfaith Peace event to commemorate the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. He organized the annual 9-11 WTC Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony from 2002-2011.
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi is abbot of the Zen Studies Society’s mountain monastery, Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, and city temple, New York Zendo Shobo-ji, and is also abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji. She began formal Zen practice at the Zen Studies Society in 1967, and was ordained by Maurine Stuart at Cambridge Buddhist Association in 1985. In 1998, she became the first American woman to receive Dharma Transmission in the Rinzai school of Buddhism, from Eido Shimano Roshi. In 2008 she was further authorized as a Roshi, or Zen Master, and given the name Shinge, meaning “heart-mind flowering.” She has worked extensively with women’s issues, including examining language and gender, and power abuses associated with patriarchy.
In addition to her work as a Zen teacher, Shinge Roshi is an award-winning writer. She compiled and edited Eloquent Silence: Nyogen Senzaki's Gateless Gate and Other Previously Unpublished Teachings and Letters; Endless Vow: the Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa, with Eido Shimano Roshi and Kazuaki Tanahashi; and Subtle Sound: the Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart. She is also the author of Life Lessons: the Art of Jerome Witkin, and her articles and reviews have appeared in Buddhadharma, Tricycle, Tikkun, ARTNews, Sculpture Magazine and American Ceramics, among others. She is a graduate of Vassar College.
Matthew Regan (Rev. Bup Hee) is a Dharma Teacher in the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism. He serves as the secretary of the International Buddhist Committee of Washington DC, an inter-lineage umbrella organization for more than 20 Buddhist communities in the DC area, and sits on the board of directors of the International Buddhist Association of America. He served of the organizing committees for numerous Dharma-related events held in the DC area, including the Kalachakra for World Peace conducted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011 and the Buddhist Leaders Conference at the White House in 2015. Matthew is also completing his doctoral studies at the University of Maryland, where his research focuses on democracy and culture in Southeast Asia and applications of Buddhist ethical theory.
Myokei Caine-Barrett currently holds the position of Bishop of the Nichiren Shu Buddhist Order of North America. She is the first woman and first American to hold this position. She is also guiding teacher and priest of Myoken-ji Temple in Houston, which is home to the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas.
Myokei Shonin received priest ordination and dharma transmission from Ryuoh Michael Faulconer Shonin and is a lineage holder in Nichiren Shu Buddhism. She received final ordination at Kuon-ji Temple at Mt. Minobu in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan by Archbishop Nissho Uchino. Myokei Shonin is the first American woman and first person of African American-Japanese descent to have completed this ordination process.
Myokei Shonin currently volunteers with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as clergy to two prison sanghas. She has been engaged in this work for 15 years as a full expression of the Lotus Sutra as the teaching of equality. She is currently developing curriculum for  the Nichiren Shu tradition and the Lotus Sutra, and  dealing with the trauma of incarceration and racism. She also supports weekend trainings for Healing Warrior Hearts, a Texas project designed to truly welcome veterans home.
She has been published and featured in several publications such as Nichiren Shu News, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma. She is included in the Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Buddhist Women
Mihaela Andronic has been a student of Zen Master and Nobel Peace prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh since 2002. She is herself a Zen teacher, having received the lamp transmission from the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in a ceremony held at the Plum Village Temple in France. Mrs. Andronic holds an M. Eng. degree from the Bucharest Polytechnic, and a MA degree in Buddhist Studies from Sunderland University, England. She has over 25 years of experience in engineering and business management and a first-hand understanding of the challenges we face as professionals today. Mihaela is an enthusiastic and dedicated practitioner who has successfully applied the Buddhist practice and mindfulness principles in her professional life for over 15 years.
She has co-led retreats at Blue Cliff Monastery, NY, as well as Canadian retreat centers, and she has shared her experience publicly, as a guest speaker at the University of Ottawa, where she has offered Buddhist teachings and Mindfulness in the Workplace Workshops since 2012. Mihaela practices in Ottawa, with the Pagoda Sangha and is a member of the Thich Nhat Hanh North American Dharma Teachers Council.
Ryuoh Faulconer Shonin is an ordained minister in the Nichiren Shu lineage. Ryuoh was a hospital laboratory worker when he began his journey towards ordination. He took his first vows over twenty three years ago. Since then he has helped start a temple in Texas, was the head minister of the Portland Oregon Nichiren Temple and moved to the east coast to start a new Temple in New England. He has guided several Shamis (novices), of which several are now ministers in the Nichiren order. He pursued his interest in Iconography and became a icon painter. He became a reiki master and attended an esoteric monastery within the order to become a Raidan Shi. He became a certified Alcohol and Drug counselor because of the need he has seen during the ongoing opioid crisis. His temple sponsors a weekly Refuge Recovery group. He has produced numerous liturgy books in English and used his icon talents to produce many amulets. He currently works in New England building a Sangha and as a Alcohol and Drug counselor in his community.
#OnInclusion! NABA's gathering for Buddhists across traditions. Also a pre-Parliament of the World's Religions event in Toronto, Canada.
All Buddhists in Toronto on this day, whether attending the Parliament of the World's Religions or not the next day are welcome. This day-long conference is a blessed opportunity to connect with Buddhists from diverse backgrounds and introduce to one another issues especially pertinent to the North American region.
Mark your calendar for October 31st, Wednesday, 10 AM to 5 PM Toronto time.
Lunch is on your own around University of Toronto's St. George campus.
Debates Room, Upstairs of Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3, Canada
Please RSVP and show your support here: https://naba-on-inclusion.eventbrite.com