Description of Organization
Founded in 2017, Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community is part of the White Plum lineage of centers and groups descended from Taizan Maezumi Roshi. Bread Loaf follows the path of the Buddha, a path of realizing and actualizing the oneness of life. As part of the Zen Peacemakers Order, the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community also emphasizes the three tenets of a Zen Peacemaker:
• Not-Knowing by giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
• Bearing Witness to the joy and suffering of the world
• Taking Action that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness
Since opening in Middlebury, Vermont, they maintain a local sangha and an international sangha as well as a residential community of socially engaged Zen Peacemaker practitioners.
In 2022, a Support Grant in the amount of $5,000 (in addition to the Hemera Foundation Grant of $15,000) was awarded to revise, rebrand, and promote “The Infinite Circle”, a two-year practice and training program that prepares practitioners for a ministry of presence in the socio-economic cracks of society. The aim is to heal the growing wound of economic segregation while tending to the spiritual and material needs of those who experience poverty. The Infinite Circle uses Buddhist wisdom to chart a course of deep reflection about one’s personal, systemic, and social relationships to money, the economy, and the economic divide. It also trains individuals in how to apply that wisdom to a path of community-engaged ministry among the economically marginalized.
First piloted in 2019, the Infinite Circle has successfully trained three cohorts of students with over 60 graduates from the US, Canada, and Europe. Candidates who successfully complete the rigorous training can receive lay ordination as a Community-Engaged Buddhist Minister. Ministers work within their home communities in cities, rural communities, and identity-based communities. Benefits of the dharma are offered through compassion-based and trauma-informed street ministry, meditation in soup kitchens, shelters, and recovery programs, and a ministry of presence and accompaniment in settings that serve those who experience alienation and marginalization due to homelessness, addiction, mental illness, low income, and crushing poverty.