November 11th, 2012 | University

Blair ’81 continues Buddhist program at home

The end of Yale’s partnership with Indigo Blue, a nonprofit Buddhist center, means that all programs hosted by the center will be discontinued.
The end of Yale’s partnership with Indigo Blue, a nonprofit Buddhist center, means that all programs hosted by the center will be discontinued. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

Following the University’s decision last month to cut ties with Indigo Blue, a nonprofit center for Buddhist life at Yale, and its former Chaplain Bruce Blair ’81, Blair informed Indigo Blue affiliates in a Friday email that the program will continue at his home near campus.

“[We]‘re working quietly to restore our relationship with Yale University, while continuing to attend to the needs of students, staff, and alumni, albeit in different locations and in new and different ways,” Blair wrote in the email.

Blair will continue to serve as a “Buddhist chaplain” and Indigo Blue will continue to remain a center for Buddhist life, according to the email, but neither Blair nor the program will be affiliated with Yale. Blair will host programs this weekend, including tea and conversation and a congee brunch, and there are plans for formal practice in the future.

In an interview with the News last week, Blair said his time since the University’s decision to cut ties with Indigo Blue has been mainly spent in handling the logistics of the program’s end, including physically moving the furnishings of the Branford Chapel shrine to his home on Mansfield Street, where the altar has currently been set up. Although he said he has had trouble communicating with those involved in Indigo Blue after the termination of his Yale email address and the abrupt deletion of Indigo Blue’s Web pages, previously hosted online by the Chaplain’s Office site, Blair created a new website where he posts updates concerning Indigo Blue so students “can see what’s been lost and to honor that.” He said he has not yet sought legal counsel.

The full text of Blair’s email is below:

Dear students, staff, faculty, family, and friends of Indigo blue:

When last I wrote, Hurricane Sandy was howling outside. Since then, a Nor’easter came and blanketed everything under a foot of snow. But this afternoon, the sun is shining, the weather’s warm, snow is melting, and I am writing to report, indigo Blue is still here. While we’ve relocated to the edge of campus, 185 Mansfield Street, located on Science Hill, we’re working quietly to restore our relationship with Yale University, while continuing to attend to the needs of students, staff, and alumni, albeit in different locations and in new and different ways.

There is much that could be said, and more will be in days and weeks to come, but given the way the situation is unfolding, we want to begin by clarifying, with all modesty and respect, although our formal relationship with the University was unilaterally and unexpectedly sundered, our vows remain vital, and our faith deepened, as individuals and as the remarkable and interdependent community, Indigo Blue is. Given all that has transpired, our commitment to resolve the situation in accord with Buddha-dharma remains clear and strong. Indigo Blue as a center for Buddhist life and this Buddhist chaplain are still here. We remain committed to attending to the well-being of students, staff, and the religious life of the University.

I would begin by inviting you to stop by the Parsonage this afternoon for barley tea and conversation between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. I look forward to hearing your laughter and your concerns, will attempt to address your questions, and listen carefully to the current situation that we share. I have every expectation there will be follow-up opportunities for conversation, so please not to worry if you can’t make it today. We will be in more regular contact now with our bearing clear. This being said, I would draw your attention to the weekend activities listed below: Jook Songs’ Fall Show, and Congee and Barley Tea, before noon. In the future I will speak in more detail about formal practice opportunities, in the Buddha shrine here at the Parsonage, and at other locations.

I will be in touch again soon, as will others working with Indigo Blue, students and alumni, fellow religious, trustees and friends, as we seek to address the current situation with clarity and compassion. Please know I am heartened by your email and your phone calls, even when I lag in responding to each with the care and consideration they deserve. Your testaments to the worth of Indigo Blue, and the ways Indigo Blue and this chaplain have had on your life are compelling and necessary as we communicate the importance of an aspect of university life, all but unseen. Please write to let us know how you feel you might be most helpful, and we will in turn continue to reach out to ask.

Finally, as an afterward, you’ll find photographs and links to slideshows briefly sketching the story of Alyssa Cheung, ES’12, who first appeared to help prepare dumplings for Indigo Blue’s Lunar New Years Banquet in Battell, and over the course of several months met and planted trees with several nuns from Putuoshan, a sacred Buddhist Mountain in Southeast China associated with the boddhisattva of compassion, a mountain where she is now living, teaching conversational English to a class of 35 bhikkhuni. I came across the photos while working to restore our website, a storehouse of memory and resource again available for communicating who and how Indigo Blue has served the University and the world during its first nine years.

Thank you for your love, labors, generosity, and support on behalf of Indigo Blue,

Bruce