|Jizo, symbol of rescue and support
Social Action Project
Founded in 2005,
originally under the name of Buddha Gaia, which focused solely on environmental issues, we were renamed and organized as the
Buddhist Social Action Project in late 2008. We are not an independent organization but the direct social action arm of the
non-profit Buddhist Faith Fellowship (BFF), headquartered in Middletown, Connecticut. Members of the Project may or may not be members of the BFF or any other Buddhist
or Church group.
The Social Action
Project, the socially engaged arm of our spiritual
community, the Buddhist Faith Fellowship, which is completely non-ideological
and non-political and seeks practical engagement and solutions to the difficult local social and environment problems of the
21st century by using Buddhist principles as our guide for action.
Our members and friends are drawn into active engagement with the social
and environmental issues of our times. We believe that humane and compassionate social action naturally unfolds as a response
to the incessant suffering and folly in the world. Inspired by the Buddha’s teachings of the Bodhisattva way and the
teachings of Shinran Shonin, we are compelled to work together in order to alleviate and transform this dukkha (suffering)
into the substance of love, wisdom and peace. As our teaching expresses, "let’s transform bits of rubble into gold."
By "social action"
we mean the many different kinds of action that benefit humankind and other species. This ranges from charity, teaching and
training to organized kinds of social and environmental service. The Buddhist Faith Fellowship believes that through various
kinds of local community service we can work to alleviate suffering, and help create a better society and healthier planet.
Pillars of Action
Our Social Action
Project seeks to extend the Buddhist dharma beyond the dojo (practice hall) into
the everyday life in bringing forth the experience of healing and interdependence. In the 21st century, we are
challenged by countless fronts of despair, injustice and confusion. We realize that we must pick our battles due to limited
resources. Therefore, the SAP focuses its social action on a local level in eight spheres that we call the Eight Pillars of Action.
The Ethics of No-Harm
out our ideals is key to our daily spiritual practice and social action endeavors. We strive to walk the talk and talk the
walk. Therefore, the Buddhist Social Action Project and its individual members strive to practice the Buddha’s Five
Ethical Precepts as guidelines to wholesome, harmonious and joyful living. These Buddhist ethics are based on non-harm and
well-being to all beings and ourselves.
The Five Precepts
a. I will practice
love, I refrain from killing.
b. I will practice generosity, I refrain from stealing.
c. I will practice contentment, I refrain from sexual misconduct.
d. I will practice mindful speech, I refrain from harmful speech.
e. I will practice
mindful consumption; I refrain from intoxicants &
harmful substances that harm myself, society & the environment.
SAP is located in Middletown,
Connecticut and largely focuses its efforts in Middlesex
County but we also strive to be active throughout the state.
Being the direct
social action arm of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship (BFF), the Social Action Project receives all of its funding directly from
the BFF and from contributions given by members and supporters. At this moment, it receives no grant funding. It is under
the BFF’s nonprofit, tax-exempt IRS-qualified 501(c)(3) and 170(c) for charitable religious organization. This means
that the Project is completely non-ideological and non-political. Since Social
Action Project is not yet an independent organization, all donations are made directly through the BFF and are non-refundable.
The symbol on
our web site is not the Buddha but the archetypical Bodhisattva Jizo. What is a Bodhisattva? Any being motivated by compassion
and seeks enlightenment not only for him/herself but also for everyone, human and non-human.
Jizo is the inspirational
social action bodhisattva who courageously goes into any place or situation to help those in need, even to hell itself to
rescue those in suffering. He is powerful image of hope and solace. Jizo is Japanese
for Ksitgarbha, which means “Earth Store.” This means that Jizo is related to the planet Earth which gives birth
and supports all things without prejudice, and provides them the environment to flourish and evolve. In this way, like the
Earth itself, Jizo can produce countless opportunities for things to heal and make them grow and prosper. Anyone who believes
in his work and follows his path of love and action, will unfold the spiritual treasures stored within the Earth.
model our Social Action Project on the Jizo’s image and path whose qualities are love, optimism, fearlessness, and kindness.
By embodying Jizo Bodhisattva, and becoming the eyes, hears, arms and legs in this world of confusion and suffering, we give
a real purpose, direction and action to our efforts. We channel this love, compassion and action throughout our endeavors.