NOTE: Since this letter was written, Jill Jameson and I have decided to return to Burma in February 2012 to offer training for activists and monks at their request. We are drafting a proposal to several funding agencies, but your help with basic expenses can be a substantial help. — A.S.
Click http://www.clearviewproject.org/ to reach the Clear View Donation page
2 December 2011
When Clear View Project began in the fall of 2007, we were responding to the Saffron Revolution in Burma and intending to serve other friends in the spirit of the Bodhisattva’s open-handed generosity or dana. Because of your great generosity we have been able to support the democracy movement in Burma, ex-untouchable Buddhists in India, and prisoners in the United States. We need your continuing support to sustain our work.
Four years later, along with offerings of funds and training resources in India and Burma, Clear View has an active blog <clearviewblog.org> and an extensive website www.clearviewproject.org, informing and networking engaged Buddhists around the world. But, always, the most important part of our work is simply what happens between people — striving to understand and harmonize differences of culture, caste, rights, and religion. We call this peacebuilding, in the truest sense of the word.
With your help, so far in 2011 we have been able to donate $9800 to imprisoned monks and to activists and organizers inside Burma and in exile. We have also contributed $2700 to support Dalit Buddhist students in India at the Nagarjuna Training Institute/Nagaloka. We look forward to offering more funding before the year’s end.
Two weeks ago I returned from Asia, attending the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) conference in Bodhgaya, India, then on Burma with my friend Jill Jameson from Australia, offering training and visiting projects in that shadowed country. At INEB, amid the bustle and poverty of full-tilt India, old and new friends gathered, dedicated to the peaceful transformation of society. In the place where Shakyamuni Buddha won enlightenment, each of us could step back from personal concerns, view the larger picture of social suffering, and explore strategies and approaches that might lessen that suffering. There were meetings of monks from Burma and Sri Lanka, daily gatherings of Indian ex-untouchable students, workshops on gender, peacebuilding, right livelihood, sustainable environment, and more. There was a great sense of energy and mutual support building at the conference day by day. I know that INEB’s connections and ideas will continue to flower. We also had a chance to visit both the great Buddhist sites and desperately poor slums surrounding them, straining to see that the potential for liberation is not some abstraction. It depends on our dedication and connection with those in greatest need.
Jill and I went from India to Burma for ten days of visits, witness, and short trainings. From the moment we arrived in Yangon it was clear that things were changing. The airport was busy, the streets and cafes were bustling, and smiling faces were easier to find. In fact, recent elections, however flawed, have created a new space for civil society and critical dialogue with the government and among local organizations. Honestly, however tentative, these are the first encouraging signs of change I have seen in twenty years of Burma work, underscored by President Obama’s recent decision to send Hillary Clinton to engage with Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government. Jill and I were able to work freely with young Buddhist environmentalists, activists, monks, interfaith leaders, schoolteachers, and recent political prisoners. In each case they asked for very particular help: training to bridge differences and conflicts that cut across Burma’s peoples, ethnicities, and organizations. These are the very approaches and skills necessary for a country moving from dictatorship to democracy. We intend to provide these resources in 2012.
• As political prisoners in Burma are released — which seems a real likelihood in the near future — Clear View, in partnership with Burmese friends and resources, plans to offer workshops on conflict resolution, trauma reduction, and unlearning oppression within Burma. Our emphasis is to develop local grassroots activists and trainers to do this work according to the ways of their culture.
• This coming February I will make an annual trip to visit India’s Dalit Buddhists and teach at Nagaloka, the remarkable training school in Nagpur. We will study how gender roles and caste discrimination affect young Dalit women and men, and how Buddhist teachings can be used as a tool for gender and caste liberation.
• Work to sustain Adopt-a-Monk, support meditation in U.S prisons, end capital punishment in America…and more, as resources allow. And we will keep informing Western Buddhist communities about developments in Burma/Myanmar
The Bodhisattva’s Embrace
The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches From Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines — my book from Clear View Press, continues to sell with the help of excellent reviews in Turning Wheel, Tricycle, Inquiring Mind, and Seeds of Peace. You can purchase a copy from the Clear View website www.clearviewproject.org or from Amazon.com. And we’ll send a signed copy to any donor who makes a gift of $200 or more to Clear View Project.
What We Need
Our work depends on your generosity and support. Our overhead costs are minimal. Our commitment is to work for the most oppressed around the world and at home, limited only by time and money. You can make a difference.
Please put a check in the enclosed envelope today. No amount is too small…or too large. $10 to $10,000. We will use your gift as wisely as we can. We are also able to accept gifts of stock or designated program funds from foundations, and can help you work out the details. We are always grateful for your friendship. Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions. Take good care.
Warmly, in peace,
P.S. Thanks to Margaret Howe, Catherine Cascade, and Tyson Casey for all their dedicated work with Clear View.