Feeding the Hungry Spirits: A Socially Engaged Buddhist Response to the Distortion of Trauma

  • Jürgen Jian LembkeEmail author
  • Julianne Funk
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges book series (PSLRSC)


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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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Association Via IntegralisBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Glassman-Lassalle Zen LineageEdlibachSwitzerland
  3. 3.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)AthensGreece

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