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19th Annual Fall Reception

If You Want to Be Happy, Be Grateful: The Life and Teachings of Brother David Steindl-Rast

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Please Join Us!


If You Want to be Happy, Be Grateful:
The Life and Teachings of Brother David Steindl-Rast 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

3 – 6 p.m.
Old Chapel, University of Massachusetts Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – The UMass Amherst Libraries invite the public to the 19th Annual Fall Donor Appreciation Reception, “If You Want to be Happy, Be Grateful: The Life and Teachings of Brother David Steindl-Rast,” on Sunday, October 1, 2017, from 3 – 6 p.m. in Old Chapel, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are appreciated by September 22, 2017: friends@library.umass.edu, 413-545-3974. 

The 2017 Fall Reception celebrates the life and work of Brother David Steindl-Rast, who donated his archives to the Libraries’ Special Collections. A scholar, writer, activist, and Benedictine monk, Brother David has shared a worldwide message of peace, interfaith dialog, social justice, and environmental stewardship for more than 50 years, and he is co-founder of the interactive online community A Network for Grateful Living. Brother David’s TEDTalk, Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful, has garnered over five million views.

The reception will include hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar from 3:00-4:30 p.m. and a speaking program from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

This year’s program features three speakers from A Network for Grateful Living: Anthony Chavez, Brother David’s longtime travel assistant and grandson of Cesar Chavez; Kristi Nelson ’03, Executive Director; and Margaret Wakeley, Program & Community Development Coordinator. Brother David will not be present.

Steindl-Rast is one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement. Leaving his monastery in Elmira, New York, in the mid-1960s and receiving rare Vatican support for his bridge-building work between Christianity and Buddhism in 1967, Steindl-Rast became the first Benedictine to learn directly from Buddhist teachers such as Hakuun Yasutami, the founder of the Sanbo Kyodan Zen Buddhist organization; Soto Zen monk Shunayu Suzuki; and Zen Buddhist Master Soen Nakagawa.

Through his friend Thomas Merton, a Catholic writer, mystic, Trappist monk, and social activist, Steindl-Rast allied with Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn, to fight for peace. When not in seclusion Steindl-Rast has served as a teacher of contemplative prayer, the intersection of Zen and Catholicism, and gratefulness as a spiritual practice. Steidl-Rast has developed an influential philosophy which he has disseminated through many books, articles, lectures, and residencies in spiritual centers such as Tassajara Zen Mountain Center—the first Buddhist monastery outside Asia—and the Esalen Institute, a retreat center and intentional community in Big Sur, California. Much of the current popularity of mindfulness and Zen-influenced living and activism owes a debt to his teachings.

The accompanying exhibit, “Locus Solus: Place, Meaning, and Community in the life of Brother David Steindl-Rast,” showcases items curated from Steindl-Rast’s recent donation of correspondence, photographs, writings, audio/visual recordings, art, and publications. The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers join a number of other recent high-profile donations to the Social Change Archive in SCUA, including the records of the New England Yearly Meeting (of Quakers), the Peter Simon Collection and the Bernard Jaffe Papers.

Parking is available in the Campus Center or in any non-24 hour lot. Free lots closest to the Old Chapel include lots 32, 34 and 71. Metered spots are also free on the weekend. There are 15 handicap parking spaces between South College and Goodell Building.   Campus Map