Angeles Buddhist Catholic Dialogue
Dec. 1, 2001
Buddhist Meditation Center
Present: Ron Stone, Rev. Kusala, Fr. Alexei, Claudia, Dan Reinke,
Mary Ann Gould, Lucy Palimino, Ralph Barnes, Fr. Jim Fredericks,
David Holland, Anita Merwin, Dr. David Chappell, Al Albergate,
Alice Linsmeier, Eric DeBode, Tim Langell, Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma,
Dr. Michael Kerze.
Rev. Kusala reported on the conference on Benedicts
Dharma which met in Indiana with several of the contributors
to the book on a Buddhist view of the Rule of Benedict. He reported
that the next Gethsemani
Encounter will take place in April of 2002.
Jim Fredericks reported that his book, Faiths Among Faiths,
received an award from the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies.
Dan Reinkes M.A. thesis on the LA Buddhist Catholic
Dialogue has been submitted to Parallax Press.
Al Albergate will be retiring as Director of Community
Relations of SGI to pursue a degree in philosophy. He reported
on the parish/temple dialogue between St. Monicas parish
and the Santa Monica SGI community.
Alice Linsmeier works for the Jesuit Refugee Services with
kids interred by the INS who are kept in Juvenile Hall. She
asked for help with kids who speak Chinese, Sri Lankan, etc.
Children of Buddhist background are among those detained.
Eric DeBode represents the California People of Faith Working
Against the Death Penalty and requested any interested parties
to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Langell runs an Internet company and maintains a website:
ChristBuddha.org. He teaches at Pasadena churches about the
interplay between Christianity, Buddhism, and Sufism.
We discussed possible ways for our dialogue to respond to the
events of September 11. Our dialogue has been a model for how
two religions can cooperate. One suggestion was having a dialogue
with Muslims. Yet our focus is on Buddhist Catholic relations.
Rev. Kusala said that for Early Buddhists this world
will always be unsatisfactory but Al Albergate said
this view doesnt represent all Buddhists. Dave Chappell
said that since SGI is a lay organization, it has a responsibility.
Our dialogue focused on the tension between what appears to
be true Buddhism and Christianity, and how it is
Fr. Fredericks: In the light of Sept. 11, Catholics
ought to talk about how Catholicism has been used to foment
social violence. The Church has backed oppressive regimes,
crusades, etc. There has also been Religious Nationalism,
for example, the Church in Spain, Chile, Argentina. But theres
also examples of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Its a sign of the maturity of our group to talk about
the failures of our tradition. Muslims struggle with Islam
being a different way to hold the world together than Western
secularism. We need to look at our dirty laundry.
Rev. Kusala: But thats not the true Buddhism or Catholicism.
Its not what Buddha or Christ taught. If the practice
of Buddhism is done correctly, a person can achieve Nirvana
or Enlightenment. Otherwise, they are just a practitioner.
Ven. Karuna Dharma: The Buddhist clergy is really contributing
to the problems with the peace process in Sri Lanka. They are
against reconciliation with the Tamils.
Fr. Fredericks: Roman Catholicism has a problem with anti-Semitism.
Islam has a problem. Muslims say: this is not true Islam. We
have to deal with the reality.
Dan Reinke: But can we say that the radicalism of Islam
is Islam? Is the anti-Semitism of Christianity Christianity?
After all, the sacred of the world is run by sinners.
David Holland: The Gospel and the Dharma dont exist
purely. Theres ethnocentric realities versus world centric
Anita Merwin: Isnt there a difference between the
religion and the people who practice those religions?
Dr. Kerze: But if we take away the people who practice religion,
do you have the religion?
Tim Langell: The idealism of religion is the most important
thing about it; its essential core. When people take it
and do things against it, then its valid to say theres
a connection between what people do and a religion, but also,
that the religion remains intact.
Al Albergate: How a religion is taught is central. The
Buddha didnt address every situation a person could encounter.
The religion evolves and tradition changes. There is no Buddhism
outside the people; we are all Buddhas potentially. Yet some
may teach Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam, so that killing
Dan Reinke: Ultimately, we are responsible for our people
and why extreme forms are allowed to exist.
Tim Langell: Sometimes we dont have a choice about
allowing it to exist.
Claudia: Theres an old saying: we cant judge
events of the past from the light of the present. Therefore
I try to stay in the present and see what I can learn. How
can I improve my practice and help others?
David Holland: Sept. 11 was a gift in that it allows
us to see our reaction, our rage, our despair, to see inside
ourselves and our own violence. On September 11, we attacked
Mary Ann Gould: Peace has to begin with me, with the
Dr. Kerze: But by taking a look at our past, our dirty laundry,
we can take responsibility for it and learn from it..
Our next meeting will be 2 PM., January 19th,
at La Salle High School.
Our topic will be: How we as religious communities have
failed and how we can look to our own traditions to fit them.
Michael Kerze will prepare material on the history of anti-Semitism
in the Catholic tradition and what has happened since Vatican
II. Ven. Karuna Dharma will see if one of the Sri Lankan monks
will talk about the situation there.
Dave Chappell and Jim Fredericks discussed future
plans of the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies.
A conference will be held in Thailand at the end of July and
first week of August in 2003. A conference is in the planning
stage for Los Angeles in 2004. We agreed that our Los Angeles
dialogue will support and collaborate with it.