Turning Wheel Media: A Project of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship


Turning Wheel Media is an interactive website engaged in the conversation between Buddhist teachings and issues of social justice. We are particularly interested in stories and art that explore the ways that Buddhist practice informs compassionate action. We are also shifting toward prioritizing work with strong analysis of racism, gender and sexuality justice, ableism, capitalism / class war, and internationalism.

We publish material that promotes peace, social justice, environmental awareness, and social activism from the perspective of mindfulness and compassionate action.

Our focus is on writing from a Buddhist perspective, but we have found Buddhist resonances in the core beliefs of all spiritual traditions. In other words, if your writing is grounded in the compassion that arises from an awareness of the interconnectedness of all life, you may be writing from a Buddhist perspective even though you don’t identify as Buddhist. We are particularly interested in articles that are either grounded in personal experience, or are helpful and encouraging to others, or inspire compassionate activism.

Obviously, the more your work reflects these three qualities, the better. Our editorial bias is toward the experiential, and toward stories that exemplify how the personal is political, and the political is spiritual. And again, since the personal and political are shaped by social systems and structures, not just isolated individual experiences, we will be giving priority to works that show strong analysis of racism, gender and sexuality justice, ableism, capitalism / class war, and internationalism.


Language
: Should be clear and accessible. Avoid academic styles, jargon, and flowery lyricism. No footnotes. Refrain from the utilization of polysyllabic signifiers whenever the message permits being communicated by monosyllabic signifiers. That is to say: Don’t use long words when short words will do.

Genres We Accept:

  • Nonfiction features
  • Personal essays
  • Interviews
  • Short fiction
  • Poetry
  • Artwork
  • Photos
  • Multi-media video or audio
  • Visual art and photography in low-resolution (72 dpi) jpeg or png format.

Length: For articles: 500 to 1,500 words. We do occasionally publish longer pieces, but send us an excerpt and a query if your submission is longer than 1,500 words. Query before submitting a media review (book, movie, website reviews).

Author Bio and Headshot: If accepted the author will need to provide a short one-paragraph bio, written in the third person. We also ask for photos of our featured authors. We prefer head-and-shoulders shots with the subject looking directly into the camera.


Gratitude and metta,

Turning Wheel Media

Thank you for sharing your media on the intersections between Buddhism and social justice!  We are always accepting submissions. Here are our general guidelines, also available at the Home Page along with any current thematic submission guidelines.

Language: Should be clear and accessible. Avoid academic styles, jargon, and flowery lyricism. No footnotes. Refrain from the utilization of polysyllabic signifiers whenever the message permits being communicated by monosyllabic signifiers. That is to say: Don’t use long words when short words will do.

Genres We Accept:

  • Nonfiction features
  • Personal essays
  • Interviews
  • Short fiction
  • Poetry
  • Artwork
  • Photos
  • Multi-media video or audio
  • Visual art and photography in low-resolution (72 dpi) jpeg or png format.

Length: For articles: 500 to 1,500 words. We do occasionally publish longer pieces, but send us an excerpt and a query if your submission is longer than 1,500 words. Query before submitting a media review (book, movie, website reviews).

Author Bio and Headshot: If accepted the author will need to provide a short one-paragraph bio, written in the third person. We also ask for photos of our featured authors. We prefer head-and-shoulders shots with the subject looking directly into the camera.


Gratitude and metta,

Turning Wheel Media

In the words of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, "Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its ethics not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony." On the individual level, the teetotaling Fifth Precept of Buddhism, a training to abstain from taking intoxicants, is meant not in a moralizing way, but as a practice to help us avoid unnecessary disturbances and disharmony of the mind.

“Intoxicants are to be avoided
partly because of their effects on one’s state of mind, but also because in an intoxicated state one is more likely to break the other precepts. Intoxicants may also have psychologically (or sometimes physically) addictive effects..." (ClearVision)

But what happens if we look at the Fifth Precept from a systemic perspective?  What other kinds of "intoxicants" might have addictive effects, or make it more difficult for us to keep wholesome trainings like non-killing, non-stealing, abstaining from lies, and avoiding sexual misconduct?

As socially engaged Buddhists Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa, David Loy, and others have noted, "intoxicants" or sources of mass delusions, include social institutions and discourses beyond drugs and alcohol.  What we consume as media, ideology, and socially perpetuated forms of privilege and separation also impact our discernment in our efforts for personal and collective liberation.  

If colonialism involves taking over and exploiting territories, erasing the histories of the people living there, and establishing hierarchies by which the colonizers continually drain resources from the colonized, then the process of decolonizing means remembering history, challenging long-held dominant doctrines, and asserting that the peace we want comes not from subjugation, but from justice and true equality.    

We want to hear from you!  In the realm of spirituality and social justice, where is there a need to decolonize our sanghas (spiritual communities) and our activist organizing?  How does this help us move toward the peaceful world we desire?


Although BPF was founded with principles of non-violence at its core, what does that really mean? In a society riven with systemic violence, what is the collective meaning of the First Precept of Buddhist ethics, a vow not to kill?

Non-violence isn't the way just because the Buddha, or our esteemed teachers, say it is. What matters today is the practical effects of our philosophy of non-harming. Does it actually work to bring peace and justice? Does it work better than the alternatives? And when we say non-violence, what does that look like in practice? How do we propose to transform the systemic immiseration, exploitation, ecocide and oppression that afflict our precious world?

Non-violence is not a static position, a certificate on the wall, or even a belief, but rather a matrix of choices that one is constantly challenged to re-affirm. Non-violence must be chosen — and the choice should be an informed one. So our final theme of The System Stinks 2013 will center on all of these questions, with a focus not only on the history of non-violent movements for social justice, but also to an investigation of those liberation movements that have taken up armed struggle.

This is a theme ripe for dialogue, debate, and earnest engagement. Please share your voice and experiences with us through your writing, art, video, audio, and more!

Native American feminist scholar and activist Andrea Smith argues, “In order to colonize peoples whose societies are not based on social hierarchy, colonizers must first naturalize hierarchy through instituting patriarchy.”

In the third installment of The System Stinks, a systemic look at the Five Precepts of Buddhist ethical conduct, we’re facing the ways in which hierarchies of sexuality and gender have been naturalized in our lives — from responding to sexual misconduct by teachers in our Buddhist communities, to discussing assimilation and class power in struggles for gay rights. 

We might think we know what the Third Precept on sexual misconduct looks like on an interpersonal level.  But how do we see systemic forms of sexual power and gender inequality affecting our societies, as well as our interpersonal exchanges? Whether we work on war, climate change, or imprisonment, political Buddhists need to be savvy about the dynamics of power – particularly how unequal power becomes fixed into hierarchies of domination and control.

We want to know (and these are just examples — feel free to create your own!) :

  • How are Buddhists encountering institutionalised sexual misconduct in our organizing around sex trafficking and voluntary sex work?
  • How are Buddhists getting involved with reproductive justice movements — from China’s one-child policy to recent attempts in the US to criminalize single motherhood?
  • A simplistic gender binary (the illusion that only men and women exist) erases the experiences of transgender, Two-Spirit, and gender-nonconforming people.  How is it in the interests of certain institutions to maintain this delusion of a neat two-gender system?  And what can we do to resist this delusion?
  • How does language of “sexual misconduct” resonate uncomfortably with the “deviant” label applied to queer people and others whose practices of love, relationships, and sex lie outside hetero-monogamous norms?  Are there different translations that resonate differently with us, in light of the ways that sex is politicized in our societies?
  • In today’s context, how do our experiences with celibacy as Buddhists — from practitioners in monastic orders, to laypeople who are perhaps products of “abstinence-only education” — interact with larger social forces and political systems?
  • Is monogamy the only ‘ethical’ form of romantic or sexual commitment?  How are Buddhists ethically practicing forms of sex outside of the narrow types sanctioned by governments and employers?
  • What are some of the most sophisticated feminist takes on the recent sexual abuse scandals within Buddhist sanghas?
  • What contributions can Buddhists make to practices of teaching consent, and undoing rape culture?


We love the multimedia possibilities of the web, and want to publish your artwork, poetry, photography, and videos in addition to more traditional prose pieces. As we explore this topic together, we’re interested in combining examples of direct action / organizing, theory, personal stories, and practices we can try at home. We are all wrestling with uncomfortable contradictions and strong counter-arguments to our views.  We find ourselves especially moved by media that demonstrates vulnerability, courage, and a willingness to surprise yourself in the media-making process.  And please be clear about the cultural and lived standpoint from which you come!  It helps us get to know you, and your ideas, much better.

If you are a spiritual and political seeker looking to contribute toward liberation, we would love to hear from you. Send your Buddhist, Buddhist-friendly, or spiritual-activist media to submissions@turningwheelmedia.org by May 15th, to be featured on Turning Wheel in June 2013. Selected works will also go into the PDF curriculum for The System Stinks, distributed to Buddhist Peace Fellowship members and study groups internationally.