Maitreya Institute Amsterdam
The Buddha Project

Burning Bush Project

Burning Bush Project

A Vision

The tension of Socrates’ moral imperative that the unexamined life is not worth living, is heightened by Hannah Arendt’s insistence that evil comes from a failure to think. These assertions refute the notion that contemplatives are somehow estranged individuals, out of touch with the world. It rather reminds us that the contemplative traditions were once firmly placed at the heart of society. Not only did their explorations of what it means to be human, responsible, and aware endow life with meaning, but their penetrative questioning proved a powerful indictment of the thoughtless and arbitrary violence by callous self-aggrandizement and passivity in the presence of such wrongdoing.

Perusing the frontier between wilderness and city, between silence and prophecy, these fiercely feeling men and women pursued understanding of the ultimate nature of our existence, bore witness to injustice and suffering, and spoke truth to power and pretense. Enduring hardship with self-discipline, they journeyed beyond the comfort of home and tradition, beyond the safety of doctrine and opinion, to direct and liberating knowledge, for others and themselves.

Although their names vary and their worldviews could seem to differ insurmountably, these Bhikshus and Bhikshunis, Sufis, Prophets, Philosophers, Sadhus, and Friars, lay and monastic, performed functions in their respective societies that were not only surprisingly similar, but seemingly as necessary as mitochondria in a cell. Their communities formed alternatives to cultures of greed and violence, and a check on the capriciousness of rulers. In times of environmental destruction, unparalleled inequality, fake news, and systemic injustice the role of these truth seekers and speakers has never been more pertinent.

5. BBP_Elias

The Burning Bush Project aims to transcend the boundaries of language and conceptuality by focusing on practice and participation rather than comparative dialogue. The focus is on creating a shared space where the uniqueness of each approach is not only appreciated for its new vantage points, insights, and tools, but also for the opportunity for cognitive dissonance and willingness to question unchallenged beliefs and assumptions.

By collaborating with different contemplative leaders and their networks, the Burning Bush Project seeks to act as a connecting point between otherwise disparate networks. Our goal is to explore ways to promote the examined life, create new value frameworks in a materialistic and consumerist world, and actively commit to social engagement. In essence, we aim to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

The Burning Bush Project aims to be a platform showcasing initiatives from a variety of backgrounds, both religious and secular, to help contemplatives feel less isolated, and invite them to participate through networks of friendship in each other’s endeavors, so that together we can make a meaningful contribution to our planet. What this will actually look like will be fleshed out over the upcoming months. So stay tuned!