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Jeff Broadbent (1944-)
Dr Jeffrey Praed Broadbent; Zen Buddhist Name: Jōmyō Bendō

Jeffrey Broadbent  holds a BA in Religious Studies-Buddhism from U.C. Berkeley (high honors) (1974), M.A. in Regional Studies-Japan from Harvard University (1975) and the Ph.D. in Sociology (1982) from Harvard University. He was a Junior Fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1983-86) under the mentorship of Charles Tilly, and is currently Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota. His book, Environmental Politics in Japan: Networks of Power and Protest (Cambridge University Press, 1998) won the Masayoshi Ohira Prize (2001) and the “Best Book Award” Environment, Technology and Society section, American Sociological Association (2000). He is the co-author of Comparing Policy Networks: Labor Politics in the US, Germany and Japan (Cambridge 1996), and co-edtor of East Asian Social Movements: Power, Protest and Change in a Dynamic Region (Springer 2011). The author has received Fulbright, National Science Foundation and SSRC/Abe Fellowships, and is the founder of the Compon project, Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks. Ű

6-28-2014 - From a recent email to the SFZC [San Francisco Zen Center]:
I am a long time member (Tassajara 1967 for 15 months) and will be coming to SF for a conference August 14-20. The last time I visited SFZC was in 1998, when Blanche invited me to give my own version of a dharma talk about Buddhism and ecology in Japan. I first started Zen in 1956 when I was 12--I met Sohaku Ogata from Kyoto through the Quakers and then from 1964-67 practiced at Zen Studies Society in NYC. In 1971, I went to study in Japan with Suzuki Roshi's blessings and became a lay or householder disciple (Following Vimilakirti) of his "brother monk" Hakusan Noiri Roshi (now deceased). At that time, I brought along my wife Gretchen Priest. After that in the early 70s I sought truth with Zen and meditation teachers in Korea, Thailand and India. Gretchen after our divorce, became a Zen monk under our mutual teacher Tanaka Shinkai and founded her own Zen temple in Vermont. I however have continued with householder practice following the "way-seeking mind" since then and remarried. During these decades, I probed deeply into Japan social and cultural studies both to understand Zen better but also to pursue an academic career which has blossomed relatively nicely. Currently I am leading a global research project on climate change which I see as flowing from my Zen experiences. now at 70 I still ponder and experiment with the nature of liberation through Zen and other paths.
Jeff Broadbent (Jomyo Bendo)




"Way-Seeking Mind: Lay Wanderings in East/West Heart/Mind Scapes"

Jeff Broadbent's blurb for 8-13-2014 his talk at the SFZC [San Francisco Zen Center]:

Suzuki Roshi taught way-seeking mind. Opening mind to whatever comes up, mind weeds and mind jewels. Let it pass, bring attention back to tide flow of breath. In the process, life happens. Do things, watch results, bring mind back to breath. A tree breathes in the here and now. A dog does. A person does, but in the mist. Falling down through the mind, nausea, terrible sinful demons gnash teeth, open doors. No road leads to this place. How did you get here? Life in the disciplined dangerous world hurts. Clashing rationalizations tear away hard-scabbed illusions, tear the tit from the mouth. Learning to cope is hard practice. Why bother? Way-seeking mind takes you to drink at this trough. Drink until empty.

Jeff Broadbent Zen Bio:
Lay Wanderings in East/West Heart/Mind Scapes.

At age 12 (in 1956), I met Sohaku Ogata, a Zen monk from Shokokuji, Kyoto. Ogata's mind projected an aura of deep silence unlike anything I had encountered. His presence conveyed the hope of coming home, in the heart. We met at the Quaker retreat center, Pendle Hill, where silent worship followed the inward light and people spoke as the spirit moved them. Having been spirited away at age 8 from mother and siblings by my itinerant father, the two of us had spent years moving from place to place, living in rooming houses, fleeing the police and the evil forces. But also searching for truth: joining and quitting Christian sects and socialist groups, meeting with Dorothy Day and Alan Watts, finally joining the Quakers and protesting chemical weapons at Fort Dietrich. Ogata's hope kept percolating during my high school years, shuffling between Huang Po's infinite mind, Marxist revolution and Quaker social justice.

Dropping out of college in 1961 to start therapy, join the civil rights and peace movements, I still found no inner peace. In 1964, I sought refuge in Zen, sitting sesshins and daily practice with Yasutani Hakuun at the Zen Studies Society in New York, assisted by the Rinzai monk Tai-san (Shimano Eido). Yasutani said, "idea-delusions can be cracked like a stone, but emotional delusions have to be sawed through like the lotus root." Work at a hospital under the Conscientious Objector program provided an income.

Suzuki Shunryu and Dick Baker visited in 1967 to announce the opening of Tassajara. Following them back, I practiced at Tassajara from 1967 to 1969. The two practices, Rinzai and Soto, differed like diamond and gold, the first a sharp and hard pursuit of the flash, the latter mellow and soft. Suzuki taught the Way-Seeking Mind, practice without purpose, a walk in the mist making you wet unawares. In personal interview, Roshi asked me, "what is your favorite activity at Tassajara?" I answered, "masturbation." He responded, "sexuality is like a bamboo flute. If you stop up the bottom holes, water can rise to the top." I could not take ordination because I knew I would violate sexual precepts. I spent the second year of my CO national service, arranged by Dick, as the "fire warden" of Tassajara, protecting the national forest from arsonist monks. So, as a monk, I was putting out fires while in Vietnam, monks were immolating themselves in protest.

Kicked out of Tassajara for lack of funds, I had to find work in SF to pay them back. Dreamed of making Zen gardens and Jesus the carpenter. Worked in an SF apartment pet-walking park, scooping up dog and catshit. When Paul Provasoli told me "the door opens inward," my old Rinzai striving mind collapsed. Finally, work as a laborer sledge-hammering concrete forms into the side of hole in the stinking SF airport landfill convinced me to go back to college. Majored in Religious Studies-Buddhism at UC Berkeley, living at Mel's Berkeley Zendo.

Upon Suzuki Roshi's advice, studied Japanese in Japan for a year (1971-2) at a Christian University in order to study Zen. Became lay disciple of his austere brother monk, Hakusan Kojun. Straight line from Shakyamuni. Running to put his shoes in place, often bashed my shaved pate on the low lintels. Knees ached unbearably through three hour sermons on Dogen, while at night on my futon I dreamed of sex. Disappointed I would not ordain, Hakusan told me to follow householder Vimilakirti.

Giving up, I traveled on. Holding an old monk's big iron begging bowl, I trailed after the line of begging monks through the local village outside of Theravada teacher Achaan Chah's Wat Pah Pong forest monastery in Ubon, Thailand. They ate only one meal per day, but it was so huge I could not move for two hours. Sitting at 4 am, the thunderous roar shook the hut--US B-52 bombers taking off to bomb Cambodia. In India, after bowing at the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, I took initiation in Surat Shaab Yoga from Sikh teacher Kirpal Singh. Zen goes out to merge with the present, Yoga goes inward to merge with light and sound. Going out accepts the monkey mind, going inward suppresses it.

Back after two years, for my UC senior project, I translated Sawaki Kodo's Talks on the Song of Enlightenment. My teacher Robert Bellah sent me to graduate school at Harvard in the sociology of religion. Would Buddhism save the environment? Three years in a Japanese community wracked by environmental protest to find out. Taking a break, at the end of a long road in Busan, past the main temples to the outback practice center, an ancient Korean Zen teacher propped up from bed by his monk asked me, "No roads lead to this place. How did you get here?" My tongue froze.

Back in Japan, top-down Confucianist state industrial policy trumped the Buddhistic preservation of white sands and crooked pines. Thesis done, joining the sociology faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1986, I practiced with Katagiri Dainin. Heady academia can be interesting, but is a horrendous rat race until tenure, and even after. Very nerve-wracking practice for a lay Buddhist terrified of criticism.

Having wrecked one marriage, though, I have found my second marriage, together now for 23 years, to be even harder practice --- but rewarding to the marrow. Learning to make friends. Coupled with breathing, therapy, lexapro to quiet the demons of depression, clonazepam to quiet restless legs, VPAP to quiet sleep apnea and nuvigil to wake up, daily sawing down through the gut agony, sometimes it turns to joy. Save all sentient beings.


About the Speaker

Jeffrey P. Broadbent is currently a professor in the Sociology Department of the University of Minnesota. Jeff first encountered Zen in 1956 at the age of twelve at a Quaker retreat center in Pennsylvania when he met Sohaku Ogata from Shokokuji in Kyoto. After entering college young, dropping out, and getting involved with civil rights and peace movements, in 1964 he started practicing with Hakuun Yasutani and Eido Shimano at New York Zen Studies. As a conscientious objector he worked in a hospital. After meeting Shunryu Suzuki and Richard Baker in New York in 1967 he went West and became an early Tassajara student. He returned to college, majoring in Religious Studies-Buddhism at UC Berkeley (UCB), living at the Berkeley Zendo. Following Suzuki Roshi's advice, he studied in Japan for a year starting in 1971 and became a lay disciple of Suzuki's younger brother monk, the revered Hakusan Kojun Noiri. After further practice with renowned teachers in Thailand and India, Jeff studied sociology with the eminent sociologist Robert Bellah at UCB and then did graduate work at Harvard in the sociology of religion. He spent three years in Japan working on his thesis about environmental protest. He joined the sociology faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1986 and practiced with Dainin Katagiri. For years Jeff has been leading a global research project on climate change.

His translations of Sawaki Kodo's Commentaries on the Song of Enlightenment are coming out piece by piece in English, French and German in the new magazine Zen Road by the Paris Soto Zen group.



Climate Change
by Jeffrey Broadbent

The most urgent long term risk to the current planetary biosphere, humans included, comes from human-induced global warming. If we continue our “business as usual” pathway of increasing carbon emissions into the planetary atmosphere, the atmosphere will retain increasing amounts of solar heat. The best science predicts this warming will cause increasing levels of disruption from changing temperature zones, more violent and destructive weather-related disasters, and sea level rises. We may face “tipping points” in the global ecology that cause runaway warming, for example from massive methane releases from warming permafrost tundra and frozen subsea methane. The potential disasters for humans and other species have already been well-catalogued in many studies and publications and need not be repeated here. The potential for famine, forced migration and resulting conflict will grow over time. Needless to say, this is a future we do not want.

How can we convert this bleak scenario into a future that we do want? “We” represents the reflective element of the biosphere that has a degree of future-regarding, goal-setting and self-directive capacity—the human species. In this climate change situation, triage—letting the weakest die—is not a possible solution. This is because, compassion aside, the weak can eventually get powerful military weapons to press their case. The crisis in Syria started with long-term drought. Therefore, the only feasible goal is the seemingly most idealistic one, that proposed by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty.” In this pathway, while the developed countries would radically reduce their own use of fossil fuels and substitute green energy, they would also offer massive assistance to the developing countries to build their growth on green and not dirty energy. To attain this vision would require great cleverness in getting the support from the wealthy countries but also in getting the renewables to the ordinary people without falling into the pockets of kleptocratic states and power-holders. It is the irony of our age, the Anthropocene, that global geochemical necessity enforces a new collective logic upon humanity, wherein the most idealistic pathway becomes the only realistic one.

But humanity is notorious for thinking in short-term, self-centered logic and denying longer-term discomforting realities. Industrial and post-industrial civilizations have developed through and remain largely dependent upon cheap energy from fossil fuels and developing societies have been following in their paths. Despite severe inequalities and a continued expansion of population in some developing societies, this form of growth has produced great overall advances in human welfare around the planet. In so doing, though, this growth has ravaged the spaces for other forms of life, producing massive declines in biodiversity. And now, this growth is facing the longer-term negative feedback of climate change. As long as we equate growth and prosperity with the carbon economy, we are faced with a perilous dilemma of choice between prosperity and environmental protection. Solar and wind energy sources have reached general price parity with fossil fuels, and so have the economic and technical capacity to replace them in producing prosperity. But for fossil fuel companies and countries, their habitualized dependence upon the existing institutions of the fossil fuel energy economy, in production, delivery, sales and usage, binds them to it with an addict’s passion. Currently, they are flooding the global market with cheap fossil fuels, which stymies the market for renewables. Despite the looming icebergs, many fossil fuel companies and the countries where they exercise political dominance remain, like the Titanic, staunchly determined to continue full speed ahead on their current course.

Struck by the growing risks of climate change, global institutions and NGOs have issued increasingly urgent calls for carbon emissions reduction and forest preservation. However, international negotiations have been hampered by disagreements over what to do. These tensions are based in different national perceptions of the reality, risk, responsibility and priority of climate change as filtered through the political process. Negotiators and other actors lack not only a nuanced grasp of other countries’ perceptions, practices and policies, but also of the domestic social and political processes behind them.

Given this momentous global situation, what helpful roles can best be played by the social sciences, and by sociology in particular? Of course, active pursuit of the “Zero Zero” goal is necessary at all levels of society, from the personal to civil society to the national and the global. But as an intellectual discipline dedicated to the explanation of events and processes in human society, sociology can best contribute to the solution of our “clear and present” climate change danger through the application of its craft. Sociological research should do its best to pinpoint and clearly reveal, through empirical study at the many levels, the mechanisms in society that keep it on a carbon track or divert it to a greener future. This can be our best piece of the puzzle of solution. In order to attain the clearest understanding of social processes, sociologists require an objectivity and even an empathy and respect for all the actors in this all-too-human game, even the most egregious fossil fuel pushers. Otherwise we risk creating straw demons as our driving forces.

Research on the global energy transition is a world-wide effort that requires sociologists from many countries and regions to join forces to conduct global analyses. It is also a trans-disciplinary effort wherein sociologists will as appropriate want to collaborate with other social scientists, the natural sciences and the humanities and those who can convey such findings in more accessible format. One useful recent compendium of work on this problem by American sociologists is Climate Change and Society-Sociological Perspectives (Oxford 2015). I have been using chapters from this in my undergraduate course on climate change with considerable success.

International agreements on sharing the burden to mitigate climate change have been stymied by the diversity of national responses to the problem. The international research project Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks (Compon) devised by many colleagues and me is designed to contribute to this bottleneck. Since inception in 2007, the Compon project has developed three thrusts of research to develop systematic and explanatory knowledge about the cross-national differences that bear upon global cooperation for climate change mitigation. The first thrust concerns the detailed analysis of how the major newspapers in 17 cases (16 countries plus Taiwan) frame climate change. The cases include both major emitters and those significant for other reasons such as their mitigation policies or special circumstances. For this we developed a set of over 130 frames that largely capture the cross-case variation in framing. In additional use of the newspaper articles, the second research thrust uses the Discourse Network analyzer software to examine clusters of stances on climate change and their cited supporters and antagonists. As a third thrust, the one most directly connected to the political process, we developed a common policy network survey instrument for use across multiple cases. The policy network survey captures networks of influence that are acted out around climate change policy issues among engaged organizations (from state and society). This data enables the research teams to study and compare, for instance, the flow of scientific knowledge, how it gets framed, and the advocacy coalitions that bear it into the policy-formation process. We currently have about 12 cases (and growing) participating in this policy network survey data collection.

In addition, Cifor (the Center for International Forestry Research) has applied parts or adaptations of the Compon method to 8 developing countries to study the implementation of the REDD+ program of subsidies for forest preservation. Up to this point, Compon and Cifor case teams have produced over 50 publications from their data (see www.compon.org under publications). The Compon project now has teams in over 25 societies and invites the participation of new researchers, new cases and new methods.