Buddhist Global Relief

BGR_logoWednesday night I attended the inaugural event for Buddhist Global Relief. It was a wonderful evening held at clodagh in NYC.

BGR, founded by the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, partners with other aid groups to combat hunger and malnutrition at the grass-roots level in some of the most vulnerable countries on the planet.

The theme for the evening was “Turning Back the Tide: The Sacred Dimension of Compassionate Action.” Speakers included Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist nun the Ven. Yifa, activist Adam Bucko from The Reciprocity Foundation, and author Andrew Harvey. Each made a powerful case for socially-engaged Buddhism.

Adam Bucko’s talk was particularly moving, recalling his shock at witnessing the plight of poor children in India and resolving to help similarly disadvantaged youth here in the U.S. in a completely open and non-judgemental fashion. His statement that one can make a young person trustworthy simply by trusting them (as opposed to withholding trust until they prove themselves) was a revelation.

I couldn’t decide whether to admire Andrew Harvey’s passion or recoil from his near-messaianic fervor. He was spot on in his detailing of the troubling state of the world, but by the time he was done with his over-the-top performance, I expected him to pass the hat with a “thank ya Jesus!”

After I got home, I realized where I’d seen Harvey’s name before. He wrote the introduction to Shambhala’s edition of The Gospel of Thomas, a book I nearly tossed aside after reading his over-the-top intro. Thankfully, I did not, and the book is now an invaluable part of my Zen library.

And despite Harvey’s Wednesday-night histrionics, Buddhist Global Relief deserves our support.

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