Presence and Compassion

I enjoy working and supporting others; however, I can easily get caught up in working long hours and neglecting personal relationships. I have been practicing Zen Buddhism for the past two years, and its emphasis on the cultivation of presence and compassion have resonated with me. Furthermore, my practice and associated readings on interconnectedness have given me insight into my hitherto passion for nature. By setting aside time to practice, reflect and be present with my family and friends, I am able to live a balanced life, better empathize with those in my community, and carry out my work in the social sector effectively.

  1. Meditation in a Sangha (community)
  2. Self-Guided Meditations – Facilitated by readings from Buddhist, Islamic and Christian traditions
  3. Volunteering in DC
  4. Baking and Breaking Bread – Learning the art of baking bread and hosting friends and family for meals
  5. The Great Outdoors – Wilderness education, bike touring, hiking and camping

Most of these activities are on-going; I’ve included them in my open masters program because I want to structure my time to accommodate these more philosophical ambitions.

I am not defining any written milestones for this module yet.  However, I believe that my thinking and practice in this unit will eventually lead to blog entries or papers that explore one or more of the following topics:

  • Business and Engaged Buddhism/Deep Ecology
  • International Development and Engaged Buddhism
  • Leadership and Mindfulness
  • Work and Spirituality
  • The Art of Solitude


  1. NOLS – Wilderness First Responder
  2. Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats
  3. REI Courses

Core Texts:

  1. “Old Path, White Clouds” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  2. “True Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  3. “The Bodhisattiva’s Four Embracing Dharmas”
  4. “The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines” by Alan Senauke
  5. The Holy Bible
  6. “The Lotus Sutra”
  7. “Freedom from Fear” by Aung San Suu Kyi
  8. “Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World” by Bill Plotkin
  9. “Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche” by Bill Plotkin
  10. “Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals 1962-1966” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  11. “Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  12. “Transformation and Healing” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  13. “A Year with Rilke” by Rainer Marie Rilke
  14. “World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal” by Joanna Macy
  15. “The Case for God” by Karen Armstrong


  1. Weekly On-Being Podcast from American Public Media
  2. Lessons from Baking Bread


  1. The Washington Buddhist Vihara – Sunday (6:30-9PM)
  2. Circle Yoga – Monday (7-8:30PM)
  3. Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax
  4. Animas Valley Institute


  1. Attend 7-day silent meditation at Blue Cliff Monastery in NY
  2. Complete advanced bicycle maintenance at REI
  3. Complete NOLS Wilderness First Responder course
  4. Host breakfast/dinner for groups one time per month
  5. Complete Vipassana Meditation course
  6. Complete at least two local volunteer projects during time in DC
  7. Complete 5+ day bike tour in a US national park or trail (i.e. Great Divide Trail or the Greater Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Trail)

Support Needed:

  1. Identifying volunteer opportunities and Buddhist communities in DC
  2. Partners for any outdoor or cycling activities
  3. A mentor or group interested in discussing engaged Buddhism

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