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Engaged Buddhism

It is said that the two arms of the Dhamma are compassion and wisdom. Through wisdom we see our connection with all things and with compassion our hearts open. Using mindfulness and in the quiet of formal practice we witness an inner transformation that allows more easily for well intentioned action in the world. This is the grounding for social engagement from a Buddhist perspective. 

Our attention is called to many difficult outer conditions such as the climate crisis, systemic racism, social and economic inequity, homelessness, immigration and refugee issues, LGBTQ rights, sexism and misogyny, and a growing nuclear weapons buildup.

Responding to these conditions from the ground of practice provides a way to engage with less ego and anger, and more kindness and understanding.

Groups and Dedicated Resources

Please click the links below to learn more about how we are expanding our efforts to engage compassionately and wisely with our communities and how you can get involved. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. Please email our Engaged Buddhism lead to discuss and explore ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.

The Climate Action Group at SIMS was started in May of 2018 by a few sangha members concerned about the climate crisis. We were interested in working within our sangha and from the ground of our Dhamma practice to learn, understand, connect, and, with wise intention and view, take appropriate actions. We meet monthly, have sponsored several programs at SIMS, and facilitated Tim Geil, one of our guiding teachers, in giving annual climate crisis-related Dhamma talks each April, the month during which Earth Day is celebrated. We have an online bulletin board with our mission, goals, and meeting notes, as well as a variety of resources to deepen understanding of climate change issues and how to take meaningful action.

As Dhamma practitioners, we are dedicated to understanding suffering and the end of suffering. The root of suffering is the illusion of a separate, isolated sense of self. Racism is a profound manifestation of the separation between self and other. By creating a separate self, we create an other to defend against and to oppress and control. Healing racism is Dhamma work. 

We must seek to understand and heal the racism in our own hearts. We must act with wisdom and compassion, confronting and uprooting all aspects of racism. It requires inner transformation and outer action.


There are other social issues, besides the Climate crisis and Racism we face, such as homelessness, immigration/refugee rights, poverty, food scarcity, addiction, LGBTQIA rights, and others.

We are interested in helping to create groups around issues you care deeply about. We invite you to share work you’re already engaged in and/or hear suggestions you may have for new projects or groups. 

Check out our growing list of opportunities to engage with other sangha members to benefit others.

There are other social issues, besides climate and racism we face, such as homelessness, immigration/refugee rights, poverty, food scarcity, addiction, and LGBTQIA rights. We are interested in helping to create groups around issues you care deeply about. We invite you to share work you’re already engaged in and/or  suggestions you may have for new projects or groups. Please contact our Engaged Buddhism lead or fill out this form. We would love to hear from you either way and discuss how SIMS can support these efforts.

Please enter your email, so we can follow up with you.

Current Ways to Engage

Since its inception in 1990, Noel House Programs has offered safe, comfortable shelter to a diverse community of homeless women. Over the years, their efforts on behalf of homeless women have grown to include a variety of services, including a Women’s Referral Center, 5 volunteer-run shelters & 2 staffed shelters. Noel House Programs refers anywhere from 150-250 women nightly to these shelters, offers nightly meal service, and case management at the main Noel House shelter in downtown Seattle.

 In total, Noel House Programs assists 92 women with nightly shelter, 20 women with permanent housing, 180 women with nightly emergency shelter referrals, and 60 women with a summer shelter from May – September. They have a new family shelter in Bellevue that has a 50 person capacity.

Please direct questions to Cubba Reese.

Gary Schimek, a SIMS sangha member, is a lay chaplain-in-training with the Seattle Mental Health Chaplaincy program. Under their auspices he has started a program called Pizza and Coffee based on the “Companionship” chaplaincy model, which hopes to create a safe space to build relationships through active listening, and provide hot meals, with residents of homeless encampments in the International District.

The effort is made possible by Mental Health Chaplaincy, Humble Pie Pizza, and The Station Coffee House. Gary hopes to expand this program to the Queen Anne area near St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in 2021 using seed money from gracious donors.

The program operates in compliance with the King County Department of Health Codes. Masks and hand sanitizer are used and social distancing is maintained.

If you would like more information and/or want to volunteer please contact Gary directly.

To learn more check out the Facebook group.


Peter Hummel, a long time SIMS sangha member, has been volunteering with NW Harvest for a year. NW Harvest is the northwest’s leading hunger relief agency. Peter’s tasks include food distribution to clients at their storefront and food preparation for distribution at their SODO location.

Peter would like to invite sangha members to join him in his work at NW Harvest. There are different ways to volunteer. One is to work alongside Peter. Another is as part of a specified SIMS group of volunteers, and a third is as an individual volunteer.

For each of these ways NW Harvest requires an application to be filled out. Please contact NW Harvest at as a first step. After which you can contact Peter at to coordinate volunteering with him or as part of a SIMS group, and/or for more information.

Facing Homelessness is an organization housed at UFM that serves a variety of needs for unhoused people. There are many ways to volunteer or offer support to their clients and programs, one of which is direct donations of clothing and other items. 

Karina Wallace, the community outreach staff person, is in the office between 2-5pm Tuesday through Thursday to receive donations. You can also call her for further information or other questions at 206-698-1645.

Most needed items:

  • Mens coats
  • Pants
  • Underwear
  • Shirts
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets
  • Backpacks
  • Tarps
  • Tents
  • Hygiene items (small shampoos, conditioners, body wash, etc.)
  • Any camping gear in general

Please use this opportunity to practice dana (generosity) to our unhoused neighbors.

Green Buildings Now is a grassroots project in response to the moral imperative that we address the climate crisis in our own backyard. Several faith communities and other concerned citizens have created a fund to help historically marginalized communities benefit from the transition to clean energy, specifically focusing on the South Beacon Hill Resilience Hub on the campus of Bethany United Church of Christ. This pilot project recently received funds from Seattle City Light’s Green Up Program to install a solar power array with battery storage. They have also secured a grant for an energy audit. The Green Buildings Now Fund is planning for the weatherization of all Hub buildings and replacement of old oil and gas equipment with fossil-free systems.

The SIMS Climate Action Group believes this is a worthy project to support and partner with, as it so beautifully combines social/environmental justice with solutions that can be scaled to address the climate crisis. The Hub provides space for organizations such as Got Green (Environment, Equity and Opportunity), Beacon Avenue Food Bank, Nurturing Roots Farm, ReWA (Refugee Women’s Alliance), Head Start preschool, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, Tyree Scott Freedom School, and End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC).

Green Buildings Now invites individuals and organizations to become supporters and partners either by joining in some of the committee work and/or through donations. For more information about the project and how you can get involved, please contact Nora Langan at

2023 January update: See the Climate Action Group page for the latest on the fundraising effort.

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