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Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom/Zen Buddhist Temple

The BSCW is a North American Buddhist Order with five mission operations: Zen Buddhist Temples in Ann Arbor, Chicago, New York City, Toronto, and Mexico City. The Society was founded in the summer of 1967 as the Zen Lotus Society by Venerable Samu Sunim at his flat in Manhattan, New York City. (See Stories) In 1990 the name of the Society was changed from Zen Lotus Society to Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom. The change of name reflected an important development in the movement of the Society. The experience of more than twenty years of Son-Zen Lotus Society paved the way for making the necessary transition from Asian forms of monastic Buddhism to salvation and enlightenment for all. On the surface this transition was the modern-day renewal and reapplication of the five major pronouncement of Mahayana teachings:

  1. All sentient beings are buddhas.
  2. Samsara is Nirvana.
  3. One's passions are enlightenment.
  4. We are an interrelated whole.
  5. Everyday life is the Way.

However, in reality, there are vital signs that the new pioneer movement will prove nothing less than a complete overhaul of the tradition and mark a New Turning of the Wheel of Dharma in the West. The corporate community of urban professionals and the conflicted world of the righteous and sinners as well as the self-support groups of the hurt and addicted will serve as a fertile ground for the Dharma work of the new bodhisattvas or wisdom-inspired, compassion-driven volunteers to promote the non-dual gate of liberation and enlightenment without renunciation and to fulfill the unimpeded interpenetration of the absolute and the relative in the everyday life of ordinary people. The establishment of Buddhism in the West is an important event of global implications not only in the history of the world of Buddhism but also in the making of world culture and spirituality. The wisdom teachings of the Buddhist tradition are unique in their approach to human spirituality. We believe in the worth of being human and trust the best of being humane. It is the purpose of the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom to play a role in facilitating the inculturation of Buddhism in the West by building a peace bridge of going beyond the awareness of the culture of self and the culture of non-self by following the Nine Statements:

Nine Statements

  1. We will honor and spread the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni and other enlightened ones for peace of the world and happiness of all beings.
  2. We believe that all human beings are equally capable of realizing their original enlightenment in their everyday life.
  3. We know that the first sign of awakening to our Buddha-nature is our willingness to take responsibility for our Dharma life as well as for the well-being of others.
  4. We follow the tripartite tradition of the Three Jewels of Buddha/Dharma/Sangha, the Threefold Training of moral discipline/meditation/cultivation of wisdom heart, and the Three Canons of Sutra/Vinaya/Abhidharma. We follow them in an inclusive and all-embracing manner so that each of us would become a living embodiment of the tradition.
  5. We realize that meditation practice is essential for moral discipline and cultivation of wisdom heart, and that the silence and solitude of meditation are vital for peace of mind and healing. Therefore, we must encourage and inspire each other through group practice thereby supporting a meditation movement towards a wholesome and enlightened society.
  6. We understand that all beings sentient and insentient are interrelated and interdependent. Accordingly we have to care for one another and promote a culture of enlightenment in which nature can be protected and preserved and living beings can pursue joy and happiness free from fear and hatred.
  7. We must practice Right Livelihood and guard against the culture of consumerism and technology madness and begin to reduce our consumption and waste for the sake of our future and greater justice.
  8. We recognize an urgent need for inter-Buddhist, interreligious and interspiritual dialogue and exchange in order to deepen our mutual understanding and to promote our common goals such as tolerance, non-violence, social and economic justice, and ecological harmony and peace.
  9. We pursue the Bodhisattva's path of boundless love and wisdom with six perfections and four great vows to save all beings from their delusion.

To put into practice the Dharma expressed in the Nine Statements, BSCW has now five mission operations: Zen Buddhist Temples in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chicago, New York City, Toronto, Canada, and Mexico City. The Zen Buddhist Temples in the U.S. and Canada and the Mexico Sangha serve as mission centers to advance the meditation movement and to train Dharma workers to promote a culture of enlightenment and green spirituality. BSCW runs the 3-year Dharma student program of Maitreya Buddhist Seminary to train and produce qualified Buddhist teachers, and the year-and-a-half Dharma Guardian program for urban professionals. BSCW organizes an annual precept-taking ceremony in order to promote Right Livelihood and build a Buddhist Sangha responsible for world community. BSCW also sponsors art shows in order to promote art and culture, and occasional seminars and conferences in order to gain a better understanding of social conflicts and issues and to find solutions that would work for all parties. BSCW published a quarterly journal, Spring Wind: Buddhist Cultural Forum, to inform Spring Wind Sangha members and friends of our Dharma activities, to discuss application of Buddhist values in modern day life and to deliberate on Buddhist solutions to problems facing the planetary life of all beings. May all beings be well and happy and enjoy peace! Namoprajnaparamita.

Senior Teachers of the Society

Ven. Samu Sunim
Rev. Haju Sunim
Rev. Toan Sunim

Samu Sunim giving a Dharma talk Sunim giving a talk at the Yongmaeng Jeongjin retreat, Toronto, 2009.
About Us Spring Wind: Buddhist Cultural Forum
Ann Arbor
Mexico City Location
New York City Location

© 2009 Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom

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