When a liberation theologian travels with a Socially Engaged Buddhist to a Buddhist Conference in India

by Cláudio Caravalhaes
Nagpur, India, October 12, 2016.
During Fall Break, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship and Greg Snyder, Senior Director of Buddhist Studies traveled to Nagpur, India for The Social Engagement and Liberation conference, hosted by the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Both Cláudio and Greg will be reflecting on their experience on the Union website. To read Cláudio second post, please click here. 
To read Greg’s post, please click here.
It was after our first faculty meeting at Union that Greg told me about a conference on Social Engagement and Liberation in Nagpur, India. This conference was to be centered around Buddhist Dalits and their processes of freedom in India. At that time, I was sitting in on his class “Socially Engaged Buddhism” wanting to know more about Buddhism. I surely accepted it and was bewildered by this gift. To learn how Buddhism deals with liberation and of the possibility to engage liberation from Buddhist and Christian perspectives immensely excited me. I knew a bit about Dalit Christian theology and was very curious to learn about the possibility of a Buddhist Dalit theology.
Before we came to India, we read Engaged Buddhism, by Christopher Queen and B.R. Ambedkar’s spellbinding book “Annihilation of Caste” with Arundhati Roy’s fierce and unforgettable introduction, called “The Doctor and the Saint.” To come to India was a challenge in itself. For me everything was unknown: country, place, conference, Buddhism. Greg was to be my guide and my priest.  With much care and a lot of wisdom, Greg showed some


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