IBS Welcomes Students Back!

Gesshin Claire Greenwood  |  August 27, 2020

On August 26, IBS faculty and staff were excited to welcome new and returning students during our fall orientation. Due to the new reality of the COVID pandemic, the orientation took place on zoom, but the event strove to foster the same sense of community we have cultivated as an institution over the years. Faculty shared their plans for upcoming courses, and students asked questions and shared concerns. Some areas of discussion were how to balance childcare with academic responsibilities, details of the new online format, and course curricula. After a smoky, isolated, and anxiety-filled summer, it was a delight to see each other’s faces again, and connect over a shared passion for Buddhist studies. As Rev. Daijaku Kinst remarked, the dharma is more relevant now than ever.

Fall orientation on zoom

Despite the seriousness of the last few months and the academic rigor of upcoming courses, the mood of the orientation was light and collegial. The Dean of Students made bad jokes and encouraged everyone to read the handbook, as per usual, and there were (perhaps sarcastic) discussions about creating a new IBS mascot (pictured below).

President Motsumoto was not in attendance, but made the following video for students. Please click below for his welcome address!



[text of video remarks]

Good morning!

My name is David Matsumoto, and on behalf of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, I would like to extend to you our most heart-felt greetings and best wishes as we get set to embark on this new academic year.

To our new students in our degree and certificate programs, I would like to welcome you to our IBS community. IBS is actually a real community, not just a virtual one. It is a community of learners and seekers, of students and teachers, and I hope that you will find edification and inspiration, as well as support and friendship within our community as you pursue your studies at IBS.

To our returning students, I would like to welcome you back. I also welcome back your energy, enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity, which are palpable and felt by all of us, even within this temporary environment of remote learning modalities.

We are all beset by terrible calamities at this moment: a global pandemic that continues its relentless course through millions of lives, economic disaster that has laid waste to the work and dreams of so many, ongoing systemic racism, elitism, and discrimination, which are so often met by ineffective or violent governmental measures, the immediate and long-term decay of our environment wrought by climate-change, and seemingly irresolvable discord within our political, societal and communal lives.

I think that it is quite significant that at this critical moment, each of you has chosen to study the Buddha-Dharma at IBS. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the Triple Gem – the Three Treasures in which all Buddhist followers take refuge. As such, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the objects of faith and reverence. Buddhist followers throughout the world go to them for guidance and sustenance.

But the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are also the source of profound insight and compassionate action in Buddhist life. They are capable of bringing us to realize true awakening, transforming our hearts and minds, and the very world itself. They shift the direction of our lives and the world toward goodness, harmony and peace.

All of this makes me very excited about your studies at IBS. I wish you all the best. I hope that you will enjoy yourselves and have fun. And I look forward to being able to meet each of you in person someday soon. Until then, please take care; be safe and be well.

Thank you very much. Namu Amida Butsu.