Our guest this week is a proponent of engaged Buddhism, a movement within the philosophy that turns contemplation into action, practice into purpose. We learn from Pete that it’s not enough to acknowledge the suffering in the world, engaged Buddhists strive to do something to relieve suffering where they find it.
If your efforts to help others - friends and family OR out in the world - fall short of your expectations, or if you are confused about how to start making a difference, this episode might be for you.
Pete Pierson has been a man of action his whole life, so it makes sense that he would be attracted to a practice and community that embraces action. Once an Outward Bound instructor, as well as a firefighter and Mobile Intensive Care Paramedic in remote and extreme areas of Minnesota and Alaska, Pete knows how to help. He’s seen death up close, and as a UU lay minister, he was asked the big questions – Why?
Not finding a good answer to that question eventually led him to Zen and engaged Buddhism, which, as you will hear, taught Pete to make peace with not knowing.
He also knows the value of community and has been active in the many communities he’s called home. While living here in Prescott long enough to go to grad school, he allowed himself to be recruited to run for the state house of representatives against an incumbent republican with dubious personal history. He agreed to run, not because he thought he could win, which he didn’t, but in order to force the public conversation on vital issues.
Now working as a farm laborer in Kansas, Pete is finding solace in physical work and taking care of family through the pandemic. He is serving on the township board, doing freelance writing and non-profit consulting, and he doesn’t know what’s next. But he’s ok with that.
In this episode, Pete reads from the essay “A Gift of Not Knowing”. His story takes us to a hot, windy day at the Wounded Knee Memorial in SD and a concrete example of how to engage with history, suffering, and cultural divides. As he explains, Not knowing is a good place to start.
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We are a pair of intensely curious, slightly scattered, social commentators investigating connection, communication and community. We bring their years of circuitous journeying as we interview each other and the people we find fascinating.
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