Kenneth Kraft, Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University, is a scholar of Japanese Zen and a participant in the new field of engaged Buddhist studies. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, his M.A. from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. In 1984-85, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. At Lehigh, he has served as Chair of the Religion Studies department and as director of the College Seminar Program. Kraft has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and the Stanford University Japan Center in Kyoto. He has lived in Japan for five years and traveled extensively throughout Asia.
Kraft’s book Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen (1992) was selected as an ‘Outstanding Academic Book’ by Choice magazine. His anthology of present-day Zen masters and scholars, Zen: Tradition and Transition (1988), is widely used in college courses; the book was translated into French in 1993. In The Wheel of Engaged Buddhism: A New Map of the Path (1999), he creates a mandala to illustrate spiritually-based responses to social and environmental issues. A Spanish edition was published in 2001. Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism (2000), coedited with Dr. Stephanie Kaza, brings together ancient and contemporary Buddhist teachings about nature and human-nature relations. Kraft’s other edited books include Inner Peace, World Peace: Essays on Buddhism and Nonviolence (1992) and Zen Teaching, Zen Practice: Philip Kapleau and the Three Pillars of Zen (2000).
Kraft is also the author of over twenty published essays. His essay ‘The Greening of Buddhist Practice’ (1993) has been reprinted in two anthologies and two journals. The following essays are available on-line: ‘The Greening of Buddhist Practice;’ http://www.crosscurrents.org/greening.htm ‘New Voices in Engaged Buddhist Studies;’ http://jbe.la.psu.edu/7/kraft001.html ‘Practicing Peace: Social Engagement in Western Buddhism.’ http://jbe.la.psu.edu/2/kraft.html Also on-line is an interview of Kraft that appeared in Interfaith Insights (2000). http://www.interfaithinsights.org/00fa/kraft.html
Kraft lectures frequently at conferences and symposia. In 1999, he accepted invitations to speak at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, in Cape Town, South Africa, and at the Communitarian Network Summit, in Washington, D.C.
In his teaching and writing Kraft shows how ancient Buddhist insights can be actualized in contemporary life, for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. His approach balances the historical, the spiritual, and the practical. He was a featured participant on ‘The Creative Spirit,’ a four-part PBS television series. In 2001, he was interviewed on Philadelphia’s National Public Radio station, WHYY. To hear the 50-minute interview, click here, then select May 14, 2001. http://www.whyy.org/91FM/RadioTimes.html
In recent years, Kraft’s service on advisory boards, editorial boards, and steering committees has included the following: Buddhist Peace Fellowship (Berkeley, California); The Buddhism Project: Art, Buddhism, and Contemporary Culture (New York, New York); Forum on Religion and Ecology (Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions); Journal of Buddhist Ethics; Religion Working Group on Genetically Modified Organisms (University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics); Rochester Zen Center (Rochester, New York); World Faiths Development Dialogue (World Bank).
He lives in Haverford, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Trudy, and their two daughters, Eva and Louise.