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Title:     Temenos: Where Buddhism and Quakerism Meet
Creator: Sidor, Ellen S.
Catalan subject: Meditació Budisme ; Meditació Quàquers
English subject: Meditation Buddhism ; Meditation Quakerism
Abstract:  This article focuses on a small woodland retreat with healing springs in Western Massachusetts, called Temenos, with whom the Providence Zen Center has had a close relationship since 1978, helping to build and use their retreat facilities. In a spirit of gentle inquiry, we interviewed its founders, Teresina and Joe Havens, an extraordinarily open and energetic pair (77 and 67), who have been practicing Quakers since the 1940's. In a conversation several years ago when it was suggested that they were living at "the interface of Quakerism and Buddhism," Joe laughingly replied, "I think it might be more accurate to say that we are expressing in our lives here the tensions between Quakerism and Buddhism." Since Buddhism has come to America, it has blended in with a wide variety of forms and influences already present (and also mostly imported) in American society. It is illuminating to look at the kind of soil in which Buddhism is taking root, for example, through the lives of individuals like the Havens, who are questing earnestly for modern ways of expressing the ancient Path of Compassion. What sympathies has it found in Quakerism? "Quakerism is primarily a method, " wrote Howard Brinton in his introduction to Friends for 300 Years. "What the Quakers, as mystics, are to Christianity, the Zen (ch 'an) sect is to Buddhism,... the Yogis to Hinduism, the Sufis to Mohammedanism, and the Taoists to the religion of China." Early Quaker practice, according to Rufus Jones in his introduction to The Journal of George Fox, was marked "by almost utmost simplicity of structure and method. There were no essential officials, no ritual, no programme, not outward or visible sacraments, no music, no paraphernalia of any kind." "The groups of worshippers met in plain unadorned buildings or rooms and sat down together in silence, in complete confidence that the Spirit would be a real presence among them and that Christ would be the head of their assembly. There was the widest freedom and the greatest possible stretch of the principle of democracy. " It could not be said, however, that Buddhism was brought into this country without ritual or paraphernalia. All the Oriental pioneers of Buddhism brought their trappings to America. Perhaps Zen practitioners came closest to Quakerism, especially Japanese style with its emphasis on simplicity, austerity, and poverty. Zen training initially relies on a certain discipline of form and repetitive daily practice, while in Quakerism there is a strong leaning toward the "unprogrammed," (In attempt to be receptive to messages that unfold only when we are not doing something routine. Zen and Quaker traditions both share a profound emphasis on "listening to what's coming from the center," however it is that we get ourselves into the listening position. They also share a great emphasis on ethical concerns. It was this listening aspect, rather than Buddhist rituals, that initially attracted the Havens. Involvement in social action and the dialectic between it and contemplation have been important elements' in the lives of the Havens and the program at Temenos, through such workshops as "Strategizing for the Peace and Justice Movement" and meetings on the debt crisis in Latin America. We hope our readers will be as provoked and fascinated by the Temenos story as we have been
Source:  Primary Point 1986, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 8-10
Document type:  info:eu-repo/semantics/article ; info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion
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