A Buddhist Statement on the Separation of Families

A Buddhist Statement on the Separation of Families June 18, 2018



(In addition to this statement from Buddhist leaders in North America (updated 19 June, 2018), there is a nearly identical petition open to all Buddhists who wish to join together in speaking a truth to power: the separation of families at the border is wrong. The Buddhist journal Lion’s Roar has a helpful story about the statement.)


As Western Buddhist leaders, we unreservedly condemn the recently imposed policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexican border.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of children have been inhumanely taken from their parents by US Customs and Border Protection, in a policy that has been condemned by the United Nations and many international human rights observers. Indeed, no other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum.

Whatever the legal status of those attempting to enter the US, separating children from their parents is a contravention of basic human rights. Parents seeking asylum make long, dangerous and arduous journeys in an attempt to find safety and well-being for their precious children. Ripping these vulnerable children from their parents is cruel, inhumane, and against the principles of compassion and mercy espoused by all religious traditions. From a Buddhist perspective, it is the close bond between parents and children that nurtures not only the physical well-being of children, but their psychological health and their moral formation.

Separating children from their parents and holding them in detention inflicts terrible and needless trauma and stress on young children that hampers and damages their development, causing long-term damage. This policy being employed on United States soil is morally unconscionable. That such egregious actions be employed as a deterrent for families seeking entry and/or asylum in the U.S. – using the sacred bond between innocent youth and their parents – is unjustifiable on any level. We suggest that our current defenders of this policy visit some of these border crossings and child detention centers so they can experience for themselves the present effects of their decisions. It is difficult to conceive that anyone having compassion for our world’s children and their families, and who witnesses such pain and anguish for themselves could continue to uphold such a practice.

As people of faith and conscience, we feel that it is important that we speak out clearly in defense of basic human rights at this time, calling for an immediate end to this heartless practice. In doing so, we join the voices of many religious leaders and congregations that have unreservedly condemned this policy of separation. This policy is a serious violation of the rights of the child and must be stopped today.



Rev. Tenku Ruff
Soto Zen Buddhist Association, President

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Buddhist Global Relief, Chair
Buddhist Association of the United States, President

Rev. Gaelyn Godwin
Houston Zen Center, Abbot
Houston, Texas

Rev. Shugen Arnold
Zen Mountain Monastery, Abbot Zen Center of NYC

Rev. Linda Ruth Cutts
San Francisco Zen Center, Central Abbess

James Lynch
Buddhist Council of New York, President

Rev. angel Kyodo williams
newDharma Community, Spiritual Director, USA
Buddhist Action Coalition, Co-Founding Organizer, New York

Rev. Kosen Gregory Snyder
Brooklyn Zen Center, Senior Teacher
Buddhist Action Coalition, Co-Founding Organizer, New York

Rev. Zenshin Greg Fain
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Head of Practice

Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Zen Center of Los Angeles, Abbot

Rev. Shinchi Linda Galijan
San Francisco Zen Center, President

Sharon Salzberg
Insight Meditation Society Barre, MA

Rev. Hoka Chris Fortin
Everyday Zen Foundation, Dharma Heart Zen

Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin
San Francisco Zen Center

Rev. Zenki Mary Mocine
Vallejo Zen Center, Abbess

Rev. Jokai David Blackwell
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center, Vice-Abbot

Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy
Irish Buddhist Union, President

Eihei Peter Levitt
Salt Spring Zen Circle, Founder

Rev. Kanzan Bruce Fortin
Occidental Laguna Sangha

Rev James Myoun Ford
Blue Cliff Zen Sangha
California & Washington

Rev. Myogen Kathryn Stark
Sonoma Valley Zen Group

Rev. Koshin Christine
Palmer Marin Zen Meditation

Rev. Anne Seisen Saunders
Sweetwater Zen Center National City, CA

Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker
Boundless Way Zen Temple Worcester, MA

Rev. Josh Jiun Bartok
Greater Boston Zen Center

Rev. Renshin Bunce
Beginner’s Mind Zen San Mateo CA

Frank Ostaseski
Metta Institute, Sausalito CA

Eugene Cash
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
San Francisco Insight, Founder, San Francisco CA

Larry Yang
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
East Bay Meditation Center, Co-Founding Teacher,
Oakland CA Insight Community of the Desert, Founding Teacher, Palm Springs CA

Oren Jay Sofer
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Rev. Gesshin Greenwood
Blue Cliff Zen Sangha

Rev. Teijo R Munnich
Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple, Abbess Alexander NC

Joryu Harris
Treetop Zen Center

Rev. Myo-O Habermas-Scher
Dharma Dance Sangha Minneapolis, MN

Phoebe van Woerden
Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple, Head Monk Ozena Valley CA

Andrea Fella
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
Insight Meditation Center, Teacher, Redwood City, CA

Barbara Salaam Wegmüller
Spiegel Sangha
Zen Peacemakers Switzerland

Beth Sternliebe
Santa Monica, CA

Anne Cushman
Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Erin Treat
Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, Guiding Teacher,
Vallecitos NM Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
Durango Dharma Center, Resident Teacher, Durango CO

Rev. Patricia Dai-En Bennage
Mt. Equity Zendo, Jihoji, Abbess Emerita Lewisburg, Pa

Rev. Eido Frances Carney

Olympia Zen Center Olympia, Washington

Rev. Kenshin Catherine Cascade
Bird Haven Zendo
Cheshire, Oregon

Roland Wegmueller
Spiegel Sangha
Zen Peacemakers Switzerland

Rev. Mark Lancaster
Generous Heart Sangha Bainbridge Island, Wa

Dr. Bonnie Duran
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
Indigenous Wellness Research Institute
University of Washington, Seattle

Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton
Ancient Dragon Zen Gate Chicago, Illinois

Rev. Kojun Dana Lederhos
Upright Noble Zen Anchorage, Alaska

Dr. Jack Kornfield
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Woodacre California

Rev. Grace Schireson
Central Valley Zen Stanford, California

Rafe Jnan Martin
Endless Path Zendo Rochester, New York

Rev. Eugene Bush
Santa Cruz Zen Center Arcata Zen Group, California

Rev. Jiko Nakade
Daifukuji Soto Mission Kona, Hawaiʻi

Rev. Jisen Coghlan
Boise Zen Center Boise, Idaho

Rev. Myō Denis Lahey
Hartford Street Zen Center, Abbot
San Francisco, California

Jeffrey Bon Soeng Kitzes
Kwan Um School of Zen Oakland, California

Rev. Dr. Douglas San’un Phillips
Empty Sky Sangha
West Cornwall CT/ Lexington MA

Nikki Mirghafori
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA

Kittisaro Thanissara
Sacred Mountain Sangha, Guiding Teachers, Sebastopol, CA Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA Insight Meditation Society, Core Teachers, Barre, MA Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat, Guiding Teachers, S.Africa

Paul Gyodo Agostinelli
Eon Zen Center Boulder, CO

Arlene Lueck
San Francisco Zen Center San Francisco, California

Tim Sampson
Calgary Soto Zen Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Rev. Daigaku Rumme
Confluence Zen Center St. Louis, MO

Rev. Colin Gipson
San Antonio Zen Center San Antonio, Texas

Rev. Ben Connelly
Minnesota Zen Meditation Center Minneapolis, MN

Rev. Ryuzen Robby Pellett
One Pine Hall, Seattle WA

Barry Magid
Ordinary Mind Zendo, New York, NY

Robert Chodo Campbell
New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, Guiding Teacher

Koshin Paley Ellison
New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, Guiding Teacher

Dosho Port and Tetsugan Zummach
Nebraska Zen Center, Teachers, Omaha, NE

Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton
Mountain Rain Zen Community, Co-guiding teachers Vancouver, BC Canada

Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson
Everyday Dharma Zen Center Santa Cruz, CA

Rev Dr Zen Ho Taikyo
Morgans Buddhist Council Wales, Vice Chair Zen Association Wales
Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, UK

Rev. Zenshin Florence Caplow
UU Buddhist Fellowship and UUCUC Urbana, IL

Rev Diane Eshin Rizzetto
Bay Zen Center Oakland, CA

Dojin Sarah Emerson and Korin Charlie Pokorny
Stone Creek Zen Center
Sebastopol, CA

Rev. Petra Hubbeling
Zen Peacemakers Low Lands The Netherlands

Edward Espe Brown
Peaceful Sea Sangha Fairfax, CA

Rev Myoshin Kaniumoe
‘Alaneo Zendo
Hilo, Hawaii, USA

Rev. Genjo Marinello
Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Temple
Chobo-Ji Seattle, WA, USA

Rev. Myoyu Andersen
Great Plains Zen Center Monroe, WI

Rev. Jyoshin Clay
Dharma Rain Zen Center Portland, OR, USA

Rev. Peg Syverson
Austin, TX USA

Mushin Terris
Sangha Jewel Zen Center, Corvallis, OR

Benjamin Mui Pumphrey
Shenandoah Zen Waynesboro, VA

Rev. Nomon Tim Burnett
Red Cedar Zen Community Bellingham, WA

Rev. Daishin McCabe Zen Fields
Ames, Iowa

Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat
Zen Studies Society and Zen Center of Syracuse, Abbot New York, NY and Syracuse, NY

Rev. Kotoku Crivello
Deep Spring Temple, Resident Head Priest Zen Center of Pittsburgh

Rev. Michael Shoryu Fieleke
Morning Star Sangha Newton, MA

Rev. Dokai Georgesen
Hokyoji Zen Practice Community Eitzen, MN

Rev. Jisho Warner
Stone Creek Zen Center, Abiding Teacher Sebastopol, CA

Rev. Jodo Cliff Clusin
Prairie Mountain Zen Center Longmont, CO

Heather Sundberg
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Mountain Stream Meditation Center, CA

Judy Roitman
Kansas Zen Center Lawrence, KS

Matthew Brensilver
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council

Heiku Jaime McLeod
Treetop Zen Center, Oakland Maine

Rev. Enkyo O’Hara
Village Zendo, New York City

Rev. Domyo Burk
Bright Way Zen, Portland OR

Rev. Jisan Tova Green
San Francisco Zen Center

Pamela Weiss
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA

Seiso Paul Cooper
Two Rivers Zen Community, Guiding Teacher Narrowsburg, NY

Rev. Josho Pat Phelan
Chapel Hill Zen Center, Abbess

Rev. Shodo Spring
Mountains and Waters Zen Community

Rev. Konin Cardenas
Ekan Zen Study Center

Eve Myonen Marko
Green River Zen Center

Val Meiren Szymanski
Bamboo in the Wind Zen Center, Abbess

Anka Spencer
Puerto Compasivo Mexico

Donald Rothberg
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, California

Rev. Reirin Gumbel
Milwaukee Zen Center

Rev. Gerry Shishin Wick
Rev. Ilia Shinko Perez
Great Mountain Zen Center, Co-spiritual Directors Berthoud, CO

Rev Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts
Heart Circle Sangha, Abbot Ridgewood, NJ

Seido Martin
Empty Field ~ Zen West, Guiding Teacher Eugene & Blachly, OR

Rev. Hirosato Yoshida
Soto Mission of Hawaii, Shoboji, Resident Minister Honolulu, Hawaii

Rev. Jundo Cohen
Treeleaf Sangha

Ian Forsberg
Hokoji, Guiding Teacher Arroyo Seco, NM

James Baraz
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Rev. Jill Shunzan Kaplan
Zen Heart Sangha Woodside CA

Rev. Desmond Gando Gilna
Sacramento Zendo, CA

Sharda Rogell
Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center, CA

Kate Lila Wheeler
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teacher

Barbara Joshin O’Hara
Village Zendo
New York City

Rev. Myozen Joan Amaral
Zen Center North Shore Beverly, MA

Alexander Haley
Northeast Minneapolis Meditation Community

Gil Fronsdal
Insight Meditation Center Redwood City, CA

Susie Harrington
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council Desert Dharma, Guiding Teacher, Moab, UT

Rev. Inryu Bobbi Ponce-Barger

All Beings Zen Sangha Washington DC

Dr. Ann Pirruccello
Vista Zen Center Vista, CA

Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax
Upaya Zen Center, Abbot Santa Fe, NM

DaRa Williams
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council
Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre MA
New York Insight Meditation Center, Guiding Teacher, New York, NY

Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik
Rev. Karen Do’on Weik
Buddhist Temple of Toledo

Rev. Jeanne Dokai Dickenson
Wild River Zen Center Nevada City, California

Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke
Berkeley Zen Center Berkeley, California

Rev. Haju Sunim
Zen Buddhist Temple Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rev. Eido Espe
Des Moines Zen Center

Rev Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Everyday Zen
Muir Beach CA

Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama
Long Beach Buddhist Church Long Beach, CA

Michael Kieran
Honolulu Diamond Sangha Honolulu, HI

Rev. Seikai Luebke
Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple Maricopa, CA

Rev. Joan Halifax
Upaya Zen Center Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dana DePalma
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Rev. Toshu Neatrour
Dragon Chant Zen Center Hume, VA

Joseph Goldstein
Insight Meditation Society Barre, MA

Mark Coleman
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA

Anna Douglas, PhD
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Co-Founding Teacher Insight Meditation Tucson, Guiding Teacher

Edward E. Hong
Insight Meditation Society, President Barre, MA

Ryushin Paul Haller
San Francisco Zen Center San Francisco, CA

Rev. Steve Aishi Sarian
Three Treasures Zen Community San Diego, CA

Joanne Friday
Rhode Island Community of Mindfulness Wakefield, RI

Diana Winston
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Daniel Terragno
Rocks and Clouds Zendo, Founding teacher and Spiritual Director Sebastopol, California

John Martin
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council Insight Upper Market, San Francisco, Guiding Teacher

Peter Schneider
Beginner’s MInd Zen Center Northridge, CA

Dr. J. Lee Nelson
Everyday Zen Seattle, WA

Debra Chamberlin-Taylor
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council

Alexis Santos
Insight Meditation Society Barre, MA

Ryuten Paul Rosenblum

Rev. Koun Franz
Zen Nova Scotia

Rev. Daijaku Kinst
Rev. Shinshu Roberts
Ocean Gate Zen Center, Capitola CA

Susan KoDo Efird
Sky Above Great Wind

Jeanne Anselmo, Dharmacharya
Community of Mindful Living, Long Island, NY

Joshin Byrnes
Upaya Zen Center, Vice-Abbot

Rev. Meido Moore
Abbot, Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery Reedsburg, WI

Henry Shukman
Mountain Cloud Zen Center, Head Teacher Santa Fe, NM

Rebecca Bradshaw
Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley, Guiding Teacher Easthampton, MA

Narayan Helen Liebenson
Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, Guiding Teacher Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA

Greg Scharf
Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA

Rev. Kathy Isshin Havens
Soto Zen missionary for South America
Jisui Zendo – Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Rev Irène Kaigetsu Kyojo Bakker
Zen Spirit Zen Center
The Netherlands

Laura O’Loughlin
Brooklyn Zen Center, Lay Teacher and Founder

Kakumyo Lowe-Charde
Dharma Rain Zen Center, Co-Abbot
Portland, Oregon

Sydney Musai Walter
Walking Mountain Zen Center
Santa Fe, NM

Ann Gleig
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Mushim Patricia Ikeda
East Bay Meditation Center, Core teacher
Oakland, California

Rev. Merle Kodo Boyd
Lincroft Zen Sangha
Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Dh. Dennis Bohn
Rock Blossom Sangha

Brooklyn, NY

Mitchell Doshin Cantor
The Southern Palm Zen Group
Boca Raton, FL

Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer
Joseph Priestley Zen Community
Northumberland, PA

Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt
Access To Zen
Oakland & San Francisco, CA

Rev. Brian Joshin Byrnes
Vice Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
Santa Fe, NM

Brian Lesage
Flagstaff Insight Meditation Community, Flagstaff, AZ
Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, Teachers Council, Vallecitos NM
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays
Great Vow Zen Monastery, Abbots
Zen Community of Oregon
Portland, Oregon

Carol Wilson
Insight Meditation Society
Barre, Massacheusetts

Rev. Chimyo Atkinson
Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple
Alexander NC

Max Erdstein
Insight Meditation Center
Redwood City, CA

Revs. Diane Musho Hamilton and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman
Two Arrows Zen
Salt Lake City, Utah

Rev. Paul Tesshin Silverman
Tetsugyuji Zen Temple
Yorktown Heights, NY

Rev. Doyeon Park
Won Buddhism of Manhattan
New York, NY

Rev. Maia Zenyu Duerr
Upaya Zen Center
Santa Fe, NM

Rev. Dosung Yoo
Won Dharma Center
Claverack, New York

Rami Efal
Zen Peacemakers International, MA

JoAnna Hardy
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, Ca.
Meditation Coalition, Guiding Teachers Council, Los Angeles, Ca.

Rev. Kiyonobu Kuwahara
Berkeley Buddhist Temple, CA

Kate Munding
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Rev. Sangjin Song
Youngsan University of Seon Studies
Yeonggwang, South Korea

Martha deBarros
Everyday Zen

Gendo Allyn Field
Upper Valley Zen Center
White River Junction, VT

Jose Shinzan Palma
Four Vows Sangha, Guiding Teacher
San Diego, CA

Rev. Rinzan Pechovnik
No-Rank Zendo
Portland, Oregon

Sarah Bender
Springs Mountain Sangha
Colorado Springs, CO

Adin Strauss
Soka Gakkai International-USA, General Director

Rev. Sosan Theresa Flynn
Clouds in Water Zen Center, Guiding Teacher
St. Paul, MN

Rev. Gretha Myoshin Aerts
Kanzeon Zen Center Rotterdam
The Netherlands



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