In November 2013 we held a by-invitation contemplative retreat for activists entitled “Practicing Justice: Transformation for Social Change” curated by Zen teacher Rev. angel Kyodo williams and co-facilitated by Claudia Horwitz and Rusia Mohiuddin. Made possible by a grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation, it was one of a series of retreats which, starting in 2002, periodically convene activists to explore the intersection of contemplative/spiritual/transformational practice and social justice.
Participants told their stories, strengthened ties, renewed friendships and explored commonalities and differences, but the retreat was not a typical professional networking gathering. It was conducted on a deeply personal level, with a very spacious agenda allowing plenty of time for reflection and practice. It focused on inner work with the goal of strengthening outer work, bridging the gap between the public/social and private/individual aspects of transformational change.
“This exploration has become a movement in some ways,” says williams. “Today we speak of ‘turning tides’ and a ‘great shift in consciousness’ coming to inform the way we make change in the world. There’s a growing recognition that we need to be more specific and emphatic about justice itself. Justice isn’t just about entitlements – it’s about honoring inherent rights, readjusting and renegotiating our relationship to the Other, bringing people who are marginalized back into the center.”