The 2009 Lenz Foundation Buddhist Leadership Conference

Norman Oberstein speaking into a microphone
Robert Thurman, seated and speaking into a microphone
James Shaheen speaking into a microphone.
Judith Simmer-Brown, seated and speaking into a microphone
Bodhi, Joaquin Lievano
James Shaheen is standing while Norman Oberstein is seated, and they're having a conversation.

2009 Leadership Conference attendeesThe second Lenz Foundation Buddhist Leadership Conference was held at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, during September 10-13, 2009. With 145 registered attendees, the conference raised the bar from the first conference held in 2007.

The Conference brought together current and recent Lenz Foundation grant recipients as well as a diverse group of Buddhist practitioners and teachers from around the country and world. For four days, attendees came to the Nalanda Campus of Naropa University to meditate, listen to speakers and panels, engage in interactive teaching sessions, watch films and listen to music. There were many highlights.

Principal speakers Professors Jan Willis, Robert Thurman, and Judith Simmer-Brown all addressed the conference theme of American Buddhist diversity. Videos of their lectures and copies of their papers (where available) are provided below. The music of Zazen, played by guitarist Joaquin Lievano, rocked the house on Saturday evening. James Shaheen, Editor and Publisher of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, presented an exciting story of the rapid growth of the online Tricycle Magazine community. Lynne Twist gave a stirring talk on fund-raising for dharma projects. Roshi Dennis (Genpo) Merzel led the group through his Big Mind teachings. And much more…

One moving presentation was by an organization founded by Rama student Stan Koehler, “Peace On The Street,” which has been a grant recipient for five years. Several of his students spoke about how they have been able to apply what they learned – including meditation and mindfulness techniques, martial arts, and Zen techniques from the Hollow Bones Zendo led by Roshi Denis (Junpo) Kelly – to achieve unexpected new attitudes and lifestyles for themselves. In addition, they are now “paying it forward” by using their skills professionally to help others in their community learn meditation and martial arts, attain GEDs, and prepare for fruitful adult roles. Stan’s students were given a standing ovation when they had finished.

As seen in the comments the Foundation received after the Conference, the gathering was a huge success. It was an opportunity to share ideas, learn about other teachings and network with the vibrant American Buddhist community. A luminous time was had by all.

Conference Highlights

Dr. Jan Willis, Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University
Introduced by: Dr. Stuart Sigman, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Naropa University
Dharma Diversity: The Many Faces of Buddhism in AmericaVideo

Dr. Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa
Professor of IndoTibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University

Introduced by: James Shaheen, Editor in Chief of Tricycle Magazine
Keynote address: "Is There an 'American' Buddhism?"Video
Troy Omafray

Introduced by: Walter Goodwin, CEO of Terma Software Labs, Inc and temporary member of the Lenz Foundation Advisory Committee
Presenting his work with Walter Goodwin (Osel Dorje Nyingpo) on mapping Rama's teachings to traditional Buddhist sutras.Video

Lynne Twist, author of "The Soul of Money"

Introduced by: Sensei Fleet Maull
Buddhist fundraising techniques in these challenging economic timesVideo
Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown, core faculty member in Religious Studies at Naropa University

Introduced by: Gerry (Shishin) Wick
Closing Address: "Ten Years Later: Prospects for American Buddhism"Video