This interview is featured in the new e-book Tricycle Teachings: Forgiveness—alongside essays from Robert Thurman, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mark Epstein, and more—available for free download to Supporting and Sustaining Members here.

For many years we’ve heard the same slogan called out again and again, a cry for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine: “Peace in the Middle East!” In October, this call will be heard once again, but this time it will not be shouted out or scrawled on posters. It will be cried out another way: by the silent presence of peace walkers.

Led by the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, the Israeli peace walk organizer Dr. Stephen Fulder, and the Palestinian peace negotiator Professor Sami Al-Kilani, the silent walk around New York’s Central Park will echo a decade of similar walks in Israel and Palestine. In fact, the New York walk will occur simultaneously with one along the Green Line, the border between Israel and Palestine. Without flags, placards, or posters of any kind, the silent walkers hope to embody a spirit of calmness, confidence, and mindful empathy, acknowledging the suffering that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has caused and hoping for genuine peace in the future.

Although part of the New York Peace Walk’s purpose is to serve as an example of how Palestinians and Israelis can live together in harmony together in the same city, the walk is open to people of all faiths, including Buddhists. But what part exactly can Buddhism play in a dialogue between Abrahamic faiths? What can a Buddhist practitioner offer to expressions of peace? Emma Varvaloucas of Tricycle spoke with Jack Kornfield, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Center, in Woodacre, California, to discuss his own participation as a leader in the peace walk. Kornfield and his colleagues draw inspiration from Buddhism’s longstanding tradition of peace work, which dates from the Buddha’s own (unsuccessful) attempts to stop war between two ancient Indian kingdoms.

The New York Peace Walk will be held on Sunday, October 7, 2012. For more information and to register, please visit the peace walk website at nypeacewalk.org.

Kornfield Peace Walk

Why did you decide to get involved in the New York Peace Walk? In Zen they say there are only two things: you sit, and you sweep the garden. And so my sense of dharma practice, which informs and inspires my life, is to sit and quiet my mind, open my heart, and then get up and sweep the garden of the world.

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