By any standard it was a remarkable sight. Buddhist leaders, monks and scholars representing each of the major religious traditions and ethnicities had come together for the first White House-U.S. Buddhist Leaders Conference

In light of the estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S who identify as Buddhist, there was a shared sense that the Buddhist tradition, with its emphasis on interconnectedness, wisdom and compassion, could contribute much to the national conversation.

During the conference, participants considered from a Buddhist perspective the issues of climate change, racism and war, learning from those communities and activists who are engaging in these issues.

It was a day filled with exploring ways in which we can take action and best engage in social change.

Reflecting on the event's significance, Clark Strand, spiritual writer and former Zen Buddhist monk, who last year publised his book Waking the Buddha, noted "For many decdes now, American Buddhism has been dominated by the quest for personal enlightenment. It's good to see other Buddhist schools opening their eyes to the kinds of social and political realities that have concerned the SGI from its very creation. That is a very hopeful sign."