Lectures on Buddhism, Spirituality, and American Politics

March 7, 2012

What if the Dalai Lama were President of the United States? Coming from a Buddhist perspective, how different would American policies be, both domestically and internationally? “Quite different,” according to Southern Vermont College Professor Thomas Redden, Ph.D. Redden, a political scientist and ordained Zen Buddhist priest, will explore these issues and more in six separate lectures/discussions on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church of Bennington (108 School Street). There will be a “period of silent contemplation” from 5 to 6:15 p.m. for each of the lectures; guests may come for all or part of it. All six of the talks are free and open to the public.

The first talk in the series for “Buddhism, Spirituality, and American Politics: Envisioning a Politics of Compassion” will take place on Tuesday, March 13, and will be an overview of the state of American politics and Buddhist tenets. The following five lectures are as follows: March 20: Rethinking U.S. History and Who We Really Are, April 3: Social Problems and Compassion, April 17: A Buddhist Foreign Policy: From Domination to Cooperation, May 1: A Reflection on American Conservatism Today, and May 15: Obama vs. Romney?.

Employing the Buddhist principles of “not-knowing,” “bearing witness,” and “loving action” to reframe the Left-Right dichotomy that characterizes American politics, Redden will pose the simple question of “who suffers most” as part of an inquiry into the morality of American politics at home and abroad. He draws upon a 34-year, daily meditation practice as well as travels and living around the globe to reflect on an alternative vision of American politics: one that replaces the endless pursuit of power with a “politics of compassion.”

Redden holds a B.A. in History from Williams College, a master’s degree in Third World Development Studies from the Institut Universitaire d'études du Development, in Geneva, Switzerland, a master’s in Education from Central Connecticut State University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. At Southern Vermont College, he teaches courses in American Politics, U.S. History, International Relations, Social Ethics, Race and Comparative Religions.

For more information on the lectures, contact the Office of Communications at Southern Vermont College at 802-447-6388 or e-mail communications@svc.edu.