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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 48 |buddhadharma The story of dharma in the West is one of great success, marred by the occasional, but very public, failure. In some cases, entire sanghas have split into warring camps or been torn asunder by the interpersonal conflicts of their members. Over the years, a handful of teachers have been dismissed or disgraced, and countless disillusioned students have moved on. While the vast majority of sanghas continue to thrive, some are finding it necessary to adopt new, non-Buddhist approaches to resolving the conflicts that inevitably arise. Consider these recent examples: • When the teenage son of a resident of Salt Lake City’s Kanzeon Zen Center admitted to stealing money from several residents, the sangha formed a “council circle.” As part of this ancient Native American ritual, everyone in the circle took turns passing a symbolic peace pipe – minus the tobacco – and voicing his or her feelings about the transgression. • At a recent Shambhala Congress, a group of Embracing Conflict More and more American sanghas are turning to new and creative approaches to address interpersonal conflicts in their communities. What are these approaches, how well are they working, and are they in keeping with the Buddhist teachings? A report by Todd Stein. Todd STein iS a freelance wriTer living in PorTland, oregon. STephAnieMerzel(Top)phoTogrAphATinSighTMediTATionSocieTyByliBByVigeon;(BoTToM)MichAelconklin