Cultivating Compassion:Insights Drawn from Buddhist and Benedictine Practices

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Ajahn Jotipālo and Fr. Michael will share practices from their respective monastic traditions that they have found helpful for cultivating inner peace and a life of compassion. They are convinced that these can be helpful to students and others who are struggling to experience peace and to be compassionate in their lives. Committed as they are to interreligious dialogue, both monks will also discuss what they have learned from each other’s monastic tradition about peace and compassion .

Ajahn Jotipālo is a Theravada Buddhist monk of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California, with which he became affiliated in 1998. Since then he has also stayed at Theravada Buddhist monasteries in Thailand, Canada, and New Zealand. A graduate of Wabash College in his home state of Indiana, he later worked in sales for six years and on staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts before becoming a monk. Ajahn Jotipālo has been involved in interreligious dialogue with Benedictines and other Christians for many years, and he is a resident scholar this academic year at the Collegeville Institute where he is working on a project titled “What can Buddhist Artistic Traditions Learn from Christian Iconography?”

Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB, has been a Benedictine monk since 1996, first affiliated with Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota, until its closing in 2012, when he transferred his monastic vows to Saint John’s Abbey. He is the abbey’s oblate director, the sacramental chaplain at the College of Saint Benedict, and the chair of the board of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, a group of Benedictine and Cistercian monastics engaged in interreligious dialogue with members of other religions, especially with Buddhists monks and nuns. He regularly leads retreats and conferences and he serves in many pastoral assignments throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Danica Simonet (CSB '19) majors in peace studies, with an individualized concentration in forced migration, and she is pursuing minors in both German and philosophy. A former member of the CSB Senate, Danica has been working as a student interfaith leader with the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning since the fall 2017 semester. She also serves as co-director of Extending the Link, a group of CSB/SJU students who produce documentaries to ignite social change.

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