People have asked us, “With so much suffering in the world right now, how can we help?”
Well, here’s a way.
You can help Sravasti Abbey support Buddhist Global Relief in their mission to combat hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
“By Kindness We Are Fed” is the theme of our Zoom Dharma gathering. It features talks and meditations by well-known translator and scholar Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, as well as Sravasti Abbey founder Ven. Thubten Chodron, Buddhist teacher Ven. Sangye Khadro, and the Sravasti Abbey community.
It’s also a chance to practice generosity to support Buddhist Global Relief’s 40 projects that help feed the hungry—many of them children—who chronically suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Your gift helps to relieve that pain and opens the door for thousands of people to realize their potential to live meaningful lives.
People are hungry
The Buddha said that hunger is the worst kind of illness. Yet for close to a billion people around the world—including about 37 million in the US—hunger is a real, terrible, and ever-present menace that pervades every facet of their lives.
Worse, according to the World Food Program, ten million people, many of them children, die of hunger and hunger-related diseases each year. Hunger is pernicious and chronic. You could say it’s a pandemic, and the other pandemic is making it worse.
Who is Buddhist Global Relief?
Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) is a US-based nonprofit organization founded by Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, probably best known for his translations of the Pali sutras. BGR presently supports 40 projects in 20 countries, including the US, that
- provide direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition
- help develop better long-term methods of sustainable food production and management appropriate to the cultures and traditions of the beneficiaries
- promote the education of girls and women, so essential in the struggle against poverty and malnutrition
- give women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families
As the BGR website attests, “Our endeavor is to ensure that the world’s poorest people are provided with adequate nutrition, and provided with it long into the future. Our hope is that, when their nutritional needs are met, they will be able to unfold and actualize their fullest potential for goodness and meaning in their lives.”
This is the philosophy behind Buddhist Global Relief, which we hope will inspire your generosity as well.
A challenge to Buddhists
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi didn’t set out to form a relief organization. In 2007, he published an essay in Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, A Challenge to Buddhists.” (Well worth reading!)
He wrote, ”I know we (Buddhists) engage in lofty meditations on kindness and compassion and espouse beautiful ideals of love and peace. But note that we pursue them largely as inward, subjective experiences geared toward personal transformation. Too seldom does this type of compassion roll up its sleeves and step into the field.”
He challenged Buddhists to engage with suffering in its real, manifest forms, concluding, “This, in my view, is a deeply moral challenge marking a watershed in the modern expression of Buddhism. I believe it also points in a direction that Buddhism should take if it is to share in the Buddha’s ongoing mission to humanity
Some of Ven. Bodhi’s Dharma students read the article and felt like he was talking to them personally. With their effort, and under his guidance, Buddhist Global Relief was born.
Since 2010, outdoor Walks to Feed the Hungry have been BGR’s primary fundraising and PR events. Often held in large cities, they have attracted hundreds of participants and plenty of donations. This year, however, with the dangers presented by COVID-19, walks are not possible in most places. At the same time, the pandemic has dramatically amplified the need for food support. That’s why BGR is taking the Actions to Feed the Hungry online, and Sravasti Abbey is happy to help.
Call to action
In his teachings and public talks, His Holiness the Dalai Lama frequently calls on Buddhists to learn from our Christian, Jewish, and Muslim brothers and sisters to engage in more direct service to those who are suffering.
In his recent letter to congratulate the World Food Program on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, His Holiness noted, ““As the current global health crisis reminds us, threats to the whole human family have to be addressed by us all, since we all want to be happy and free from suffering.”
“Hunger and poverty can only be eliminated on the basis of international cooperation,” he continued. “As a firm believer in the oneness of humanity, it is my fervent hope that (this award) will inspire an intensification of efforts to ensure that nobody is left to die of hunger anywhere.” (Read the full letter here.)
My friends, we can help by making offerings to support Buddhist Global Relief, as well as other food aid organizations and our local food banks.
The Price of a Meal
The average cost of groceries each month for one person in the US ranges between $165 and $345, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That’s an average of $252 a month, or $63 a week, or $8.40 a day for one person.
Can you imagine how many people that $252 could feed through a BRG program in Haiti? Or Bangladesh? Vietnam, Kenya, Nicaragua? Or even Detroit, Michigan?
Our Sravasti Abbey Action to Feed the Hungryy, “By Kindness We Are Fed,” invites folks to repay the kindness of all mother sentient beings by offering what we can—the price of a meal or much more—to feed others who suffer food insecurity.
In addition to supporting BGR, 10% of offerings made through the Abbey Action to Feed the Hungry page will go to our local Youth Emergency Services, where they are providing bags and bags of groceries to relieve hunger in our rural Pend Oreille County, WA.
Giving brings rewards
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi translated Anguttara Nikaya, where we find this teaching from the Buddha:
“In giving food, one gives five things to the recipients: one gives life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity. In giving these five things, one in turn partakes of life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity, whether in this world or in the heavenly realm.”
Please join us October 17. More importantly, please make an offering to Buddhist Global Relief (scroll to the bottom of the page to find the Donate button.) And please share what you can with your local food banks. (You can also send a check to Buddhist Global Relief, 2020 Route 301, Carmel NY 10512.)
When people don’t know where their next meal will come from, they can think of nothing else. With their hunger satisfied, who knows? All humans have the potential to do great things—even awaken. We can help each other fulfill our potential with our practice of generosity.
by Ven. Thubten Chonyi
Buddhist Action to Feed the Hungry
By Kindness We Are Fed