loveandrev2

I am collaborating with Shaun Bartone of Engage! on this project. Its main goal is to stimulate thinking about the forms that a practice community might take going forward into the 21st century. Our aim is to stimulate the creation of actual, concrete communities in both in-person and online formats.

From the beginning of this blog’s existence, I have been hearing from readers about the loneliness and disorientation that comes with being estranged from a practice community. We believe that some of the reasons for this increasingly common experience of x-buddhist alienation are addressed in the questions and themes we bring to your attention below. In the end, we hope to see real life groups of people regularly engaging thought, practice, action, one another, and the world in impactful ways.

What might such community, and such practice, entail? In following the non-buddhist impulse, we still envision the incorporation of x-buddhist materials, but likely in permutations unrecognizable as x-buddhist to current practitioners. As you can see, our Call for Submissions contains values that frame the project. For instance, we desire to instigate forms of community that are autonomous, horizontal (non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical), decentralized, and networked. These values implicitly challenge two pervasive x-buddhist axioms: the necessity of the traditional teacher-who-knows, and the contemporary neoliberal assumption of the atomized individual. Can you envision a practice group without a teacher? How do you see that operating in real terms? 

Please join us in imagining—out loud, in writing, in public—a future that includes a Buddhism unbound!

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: INVESTIGATING NEW MODELS OF SANGHA

Buddhist Spring May 2020 calls creative writers, practitioners, teachers, poets, academics, para-academics, institutionally exiled nomads and pirates, thinkers and dreamers, and all other stakeholders in the World of Buddhism to submit original texts. Length, style, tone, and form can vary. Examples may include: scholarly article; essay; blog post; sociological fieldwork; interview; poetry; utopian fantasy; fiction; satire; screed; humor; ritual instructions; aphorisms; exercitia; catechism, litany; farce. Accepted texts will be published, as received, on the sponsor blogs Engage! and Speculative Non-Buddhism, and uploaded to the Action Network and Keybase file systems and other social media. These texts will form the cache of materials needed to feed and fuel the BS52020 movement. They will serve us in collectively imagining, conceiving, discussing, and creating a new future for Buddhist community in the West.

Befitting the purpose of BS52020, our focus is on the social organization of Buddhism. And given our desire to instigate forms of community that are autonomous, horizontal (non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical), decentralized, and networked, we are most broadly interested in anarchist approaches. Yet, at this stage, we invite you to explore a wide range of questions and themes, including but not limited to the following:

  • How might Buddhist concepts such as liberation, no-self, emptiness, dependent origination, compassion, etc., be placed in the service of a materialist social practice?
  • Are the classical texts necessary? Which ones, and to what end?
  • Might dialogue form the basis of communal practice?
  • Theories of dialogue (Habermas, Gadamer, Bakhtin, Bohm, Freire, etc.)
  • Is meditation necessary? What role would it serve?
  • Resources from ritual theory (Durkheim,  Lévi-Strauss, Rappaport, Douglas, Grimes, etc.).
  • Historical examples of de-institutionalized communities.
  • New social models of non-hierarchical collectives (horizontalism and autonomism, the Zapatista movement, the Argentine Piquetero movement, the Commons as governance, libertarian socialism, the communal anarchism of Murray Bookchin, and Gandhi’s swaraj model of autonomous governance, etc.).
  • What are the explicit features of a de-neoliberalized community?
  • What resources does critical theory offer?
  • Is there a role for the teacher in a non-hierarchical structure? How is that role re-conceived?
  • Specific anarchist resources for new models of sangha.
  • Resources from the history of Buddhism (republican sangha, Ambedkar, dialogic teaching methods of the texts, bodhisattva figure, tantric inversions of value, etc.).

Please submit either a brief proposal or your finished piece at any time to engagedharma.net@gmail.com.

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