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Animal Liberation as Buddhist Practice

Online Program
Dates: Apr 21, 2024

Instructor(s): Bob Isaacson, Andrea Diaz, and William Edelglass

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Program Description:

What does the first precept to refrain from killing living beings mean for our relations with non-human animals? Is generating loving kindness and compassion for all sentient beings relevant to our daily lives? Can we understand animal liberation–especially through refraining from eating meat–as a form of Buddhist practice? Please join us for a conversation exploring these questions with Andrea Diaz and Bob Isaacson, of Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA), and BCBS Director of Studies William Edelglass.

In preparation for our time together, we invite you to read Bob’s article, originally published in Lion’s Roar, “Friends not Food” and Ven. Tashi Nyima’s article, “Right Eating: What the Buddha Taught.” We also invite you to watch the DVA documentary Animals and the Buddha. Finally, for those interested in a philosophical exploration of Buddhist animal ethics, especially the question of vegetarianism, we share this article by the philosopher Bronnwyn Finnegan.

Online Schedule:
This program is hosted on Zoom and closed captions are available. You can check the time of the group sessions in your timezone here: https://www.worldtimebuddy.com. The schedule of Zoom meetings for this program (shown in US Eastern Time) is as follows:

Meeting Date: Sunday, April 21, 2024

Meeting Time: 7:30 - 9:00 PM ET

Please note that sessions will be recorded and made available to participants within 48 hours of each session. Recordings remain available for two weeks from the program end date with the exception of one-time events, available indefinitely on our website.

Cancellation Policy:
There are no cancellation fees for donation-based programs.

As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming. Please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Bob Isaacson, President and CEO of Dharma Voices for Animals, was a civil rights-human rights attorney for twenty-five years, specializing in defending people against the death penalty. He presented and won a landmark case in the Supreme Court of the United States, which limits the power of the police to arrest people without sufficient grounds, when he was 27, the second youngest attorney in history to appear before the nation’s highest court. Bob Isaacson was drawn to the Buddha’s teachings on the path to the end of suffering 29 years ago and continues to be inspired. Since he began Buddhist practice, Bob has participated in 26 meditation retreats of one month or longer. Bob currently teaches the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings), leads two Sanghas (ongoing groups of practitioners), and leads day-long and weekend retreats in the San Diego area, having been trained in Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Program. It did not take Bob long to realize the disconnect between the Buddha’s teachings of compassion and non-harming toward all sentient beings and the actual practice of Buddhist teachers and followers who continue to eat animals. This disconnect led Bob to join with several friends in 2011 to launch the non-profit organization, Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA). DVA is the only Buddhist International Animal Advocacy organization in the world with country-wide Projects in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the United States. DVA focuses on encouraging Buddhist temples and Buddhist communities to transition to plant-based food, supporting animal welfare legislation, and providing plant-based cooking classes at Buddhist temples.

  • Andrea Diaz, Operations Director for Dharma Voices for Animals, is an animal rights advocate raised on a farm in Phoenix, Arizona. She has a Master of Global Animal Law from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. Her interest was fueled by why so many people she grew up with got caught up in the judicial system. She became vegan overnight after coming across chicken slaughterhouse footage online in 2016. She immediately wanted to take action to end the suffering of animals. Andrea’s passion for justice and equality has led her to organize hundreds of campaigns, protests, and educational events for multiple animal rights organizations. She has worked as an investigator of factory farms and slaughterhouses in several countries. Andrea Diaz has been drawn to the teachings of the Buddha, has a meditation practice since 2018, and has attended Buddhist retreats.

  • William Edelglass is Director of Studies at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.  He also teaches at Smith College, where he is the Director of the Five College Tibetan Studies Program in India, and is adjunct professor at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India.  His scholarship explores questions in Buddhist studies, environmental humanities, and philosophy.  William has practiced in several different Buddhist traditions and has taught widely in dharma centers, academia, as a wilderness guide, and in several Tibetan academic institutions in India.  William’s most recent book is The Routledge Handbook of Indian Buddhist Philosophy.