Feeding the Hungry Spirits: A Socially Engaged Buddhist Response to the Distortion of Trauma
This contribution seeks to describe trauma’s distortion as a psychological and physiological phenomenon, as well as a lens through which to consider a particular experience of trauma and healing: one individual’s visit to the former concentration camp Auschwitz/Birkenau in a Zen Peacemaker Bearing Witness Retreat. The authors’ understanding of this distortion draws from recent findings that trauma causes a ‘fundamental reorganization of the way mind and brain manage perceptions’ (van der Kolk 2014, p. 21), thereby distorting one’s relation not only with oneself but also with society. The chapter brings together two unexpected and unlikely elements, a personal story of traumatic distortion reverberating out from the Holocaust and a unique healing response from socially engaged Buddhism.
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