We Are Building American Buddhism

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Prajnopaya at MIT (W11-004)
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Telephone: (617) 253-2327
Website: http://web.mit.edu/metta/www
Attn: Tenzin Priyardarshi

Description of Organization

Prajinopay at MIT is an officially recognized and supported University organization which represents the Buddhist Community at MIT. This grant is to fund (1) the training of American Buddhist Ministers due to a dearth of such programs in a college/university setting; (2) the broadening of public outreach to link the University-based programs with the world at large and blend the entrepreneurial ethos of MIT with the zest of Buddhism; and (3) the support of contemplative life among students at MIT (including lectures, workshop seminars, multimedia installations and research development to promote contemplative, active learning and interaction for the community at large).

Grant(s) Awarded

In April of 2010 the Foundation made a grant to MIT in the sum of $10,000 payable over two years.  In March, 2013, the Foundation made an additional grant of $7,500 to Prajinopay to support three innovative models of education:  a program to support contemplative life among students at MIT, a conference on ethics and wellbeing, and the training of American Buddhist ministers.

Results / Update

April 24, 2011 - Progress Report for the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism Fall 2010-Spring 2011

Prajnopaya at MIT was delighted to receive the first installment of the grant in the amount of $5000 from the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation. As agreed upon, all of the funds have been used to support on-campus Buddhist events at MIT during the academic year. Every event is publicized widely in a variety of media and is open to MIT community members.

Weekly Meditation Sessions: The number of meditation sessions has increased from once a week to three times a week. Students have the option to attend morning and/or evening sessions. Each session lasts for about an hour and is followed by tea, snacks, and discussion.

Buddhist Community Luncheon & Dinners: Buddhist Community Luncheon and Dinners are designed to further develop lively and cordial interaction among the wider MIT community. Student, faculty, and staff come together for these informal events that have a Buddhist theme as the main topic of conversation. These sessions are very popular with the students since they choose the theme for discussion. Topics have ranged from "Measuring Positive Aspirations" and "Can We Let Go and Be at MIT?" to the more the traditional "Mind Training." These sessions generally last for 2 hours and are held once a month.

Buddhist Community Movie Nights: Two or three times during the semester students choose movies that contain Buddhist or other spiritual/ social themes to screen at MIT. A brief discussion period and refreshments follow the film.

Retreats @ MIT: One-day and weekend retreats at MIT offer a welcome break from the regular busy schedules of MIT community members. Four on-campus retreats and one off-campus retreat have been organized during this academic year. Retreats combine the practical application of meditation along with a deepening understanding of Buddhist philosophy through the introduction of a particular Buddhist text. "Parting from the Four Attachments," "Dependent Origination," and "Buddha Nature" were among the retreats this year.

Speaker Series:
The Buddhist Community continues to invite distinguished scholars and practitioners to speak at MIT. This year we hosted Rev. Ichigaku Nagira from the Zen Headquarters in Japan. He spent several days instructing students on Zazen. We also hosted H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche, Head of the Drikung Kagyu order in India, who spoke on "Finding Happiness Within." Previous speakers have included Jon Kabat-Zinn and Alan Wallace, whose talks have been made available for online streaming. We are hoping, resources permitting, to be able to post all of our public talks online for wider public access.

Chaplain Internship: A student from Harvard Divinity School interned for part of the semester to learn more about Buddhist Chaplaincy and programs at MIT.

Going Forward: Beginning in the Fall 2011, The Buddhist Community will begin preparations for the 10th Anniversary of Buddhism at MIT. We are all very excited about it, and planning is underway for a number of events, including a speaker series and an interdisciplinary conference on Well-being.

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