Buddhist Club Offers Serene Approach to Troubled World

Jillanna Bassan

This is the second in the ‘Clubs A-Z’ series in which CSUN’s student organizations will be focused on. To see the first article in the series about the Anime Club, visit sundial.csun.edu.

With the stock market ominously free-falling and the major political parties trading barbs in a most impolite way, college students may suddenly be finding their classrooms and homework assignments to be a welcome refuge from the turbulent storm that is the outside world.

At CSUN, another temporary escape from the chaos of current events is to join a club where one can meet other students with shared interests and goals. If that club can provide a philosophy that helps one cope with the uncertainty of life, that is even better.

One such campus club is Buddhists for World Peace, now in its second year.

‘The club’s purpose is to encourage a Buddhist philosophy that can bring world peace,’ said club president, Rossana Woo. On a more personal level, Woo envisions individual dialogue between club members. ‘This will grant opportunities for students to talk and get to know each other.’

Woo assures that it is not necessary to be Buddhist to join the club. ‘You don’t have to believe in Buddha, but everyone in the club is a Buddhist,’ explains Woo, who is now a senior. Woo was born into the practice of Buddhism and said that if she wasn’t, she would have converted. Although the club is not affiliated with any temple, membership is made up of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as two CSUN professors, Leigh Kennicott, who teaches theatre, and Yumiko Boecher, who teaches English as a second language.

‘I am honored to be in the position of supporting this wonderful club that tries to unite all students of different beliefs,’ said Boecher, who is Buddhist. ‘The practice of Buddhism elevates our life condition, allowing us to see the positive attributes of all people in our environment.’

All club members are part of the Soka Gakkai International-USA, a national group geared toward promoting peace. Their website offers a friendly guide to Buddhism, including how to begin your practice, recommended reading, and a list of relevant news and events.

‘One of the main goals of the group is to try to attain individual happiness. Everyone has an innate Buddha. Happiness is having a feeling of unwavering courage that gives you the strength to overcome anything,’ explained Woo. Last year, students exchanged ideas on everything from education to movies or clothing trends. Thus, the group also functions as a support group, where members can discuss their personal problems, and how to get through them with the help of Buddhist teachings. Woo looks forward to growing the club’s ranks this semester, and encourages new freshman to consider joining.

In addition to monthly meetings, Woo and club treasurer Alison Kovar are planning a panel discussion on a broad range of issues ranging from campus-related topics to politics, particularly how to accomplish goals through non-violence. The club also hopes to organize an exhibit and book donations to the Oviatt library.

‘We’re trying to encourage, for the sake of peace at CUN, one person at a time,’ said Kovar.