"The American development of Engaged Buddhism has a multitude of examples and expressions.
Many Buddhist-inspired and led programs are at the forefront of hospice care for the dying. The San Francisco Zen Center Hospice Volunteer Program, launched in 1987 under the leadership of Frank Ostaseski, brings trained volunteers to the bedsides of those dying of cancer and AIDS. The Hartford Street Zen Center maintains the Maitri AIDS Hospice, which was started by Issan Dorsey, who served as abbot of the Center before he himself died of AIDS in 1990. In Richmond, California, the Metta Vihara, also called the American Buddhist Congregation, Inc., began in 1990 as a hospice house under the leadership of its African American abbot, the Venerable Suhita Dharma. In New York, the Maitri House of the Zen Center of New York has opened its doors for hospice care. It is one of several nonprofit projects of the community led by Bernard Tetsugen Glassman-roshi. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the “Being With Dying” project of Upaya, a Buddhist community led by Joan Halifax, is training mainstream caregivers in the practice of presence and attention cultivated by meditation.
Buddhist engagement has also extended to the prison system. The Soto Zen nun, Dai-En Bennage, after 23 years of training and practice in Japan, began teaching Buddhist practice in the prison system from her base at Mt. Equity Zendo in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In New York, John Daido Loori-roshi of Mt. Tremper Zen Center started Buddhist meditation programs in New York state prisons. And in Los Angeles, the Hsi Lai Temple, committed to “building the Pure Land on Earth,” used to host a weekly prison visitation program."
- excerpt from essay on Engaged Buddhism and Social Action, offered by The Pluralism Project at Harvard. Click here for entire essay.