Rev. Danny Fisher, M.Div., D.B.S., is a professor and Coordinator of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Department at University of the West in Rosemead, CA. Prior to his appointment at UWest, he served on the adjunct faculty for Antioch Education Abroad’s Buddhist Studies in India program. He has also taught for Hartford Seminary and Naropa University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Religion from Denison University, Master of Divinity from Naropa University, and Doctorate in Buddhist Studies at UWest.
Danny was ordained as a lay Buddhist minister by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California in 2008. In addition, he is certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor by Naropa University in association with Shambhala International. He also serves on the advisory council for the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, and in 2009 became the first-ever Buddhist member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.
Author of the Patheos blog Off the Cushion, Danny has also written for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Shambhala Sun,Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Inquiring Mind, The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, The Journal of Global Buddhism, The Journal of Religion & Film, Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, The Middle Way: Journal of the Buddhist Society, Religion Dispatches, Alternet’s Wiretap Magazine, elephantjournal.com, and other publications. He has commented on Buddhism in America and other religious issues for CNN, the Religion News Service, Buddhist Geeks, E! Entertainment Television, and The Washington Post’s On Faith as well. In 2011, the editors of The Huffington Post called Danny “one of the Buddhists you should be following on Twitter” (@RevDannyFisher).
He was also a participant in the historic first Dharmic Religions and Faith Institutional Leadership Conference, held at The White House in Washington, D.C., on April 20, 2012. In addition, during August 2012, he was trained in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps by Vice President Al Gore.
His award-winning website is http://www.dannyfisher.org.
Born in Crawfordsville, IN, Danny graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1997. He received his B.A. in Religion with a concentration in Buddhist Studies from Denison University in 2001. The fall semester of his junior year was spent studying abroad in Bodh Gaya as part of Antioch Education Abroad’s Buddhist Studies in India program.
In the spring of 2006, he earned his Master of Divinity degree at Naropa University, where he served as an intern for the Naropa Chaplaincy Project and a teaching assistant for Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D. He was also certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor by the institution in association with Shambhala International. He was primarily trained in this capacity by Acharya Dale Asrael.
While in Colorado, Danny also completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (C.P.E.) under the supervision of Pamela S. Roberts. His internship site was Boulder Community Hospital, where he was a chaplain intern and later a chaplain volunteer.
During the fall semester of 2006, Danny returned to Bodh Gaya to serve as teaching assistant, dorm advisor and bursar on the faculty of Antioch Education Abroad’s Buddhist Studies in India program.
Immediately following the end of his position with Antioch Education Abroad, he began studies toward a doctorate in Buddhist Studies at University of the West in Rosemead, CA, in 2007. (He will complete his studies in 2012 with the submission of a doctoral project that is titled Benefit Beings!: The Buddhist Guide to Professional Chaplaincy.)
In 2008, upon nomination by primary teacher Bhante Chao Chu and preceptor Bhante Walpola Piyananda Nayaka Thero, he was ordained into the International Order of Buddhist Ministers by the ecumenical Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California. The ceremony was held under the auspices of the Los Angeles Buddhist Union at the Rosemead Buddhist Monastery in Rosemead, CA. Ministers observe the ten precepts and rules of conduct devised by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California, and support the Los Angeles Buddhist Union in its focus on “the universal truths of Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings as recorded in the Pāli Canon” and mission to “promote practice in meditation, mindfulness, Dharma study, and community engagement.” They also serve and support all Buddhists in all traditions however they can.
Danny’s ordination name is Dhammayasa (Pāli), which translates into English as “Gains Fame Through the Dharma.” (It is his sincerest wish, though, that through his ministry he can bring fame to the Dharma.)
In April 2009, Danny accepted the position of Coordinator of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at University of the West, where he now works. The same year he became the first Buddhist member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.
Self-described as a “peace, love and justice freak (and proud of it),” Danny is deeply committed to Buddhist ecumenicism and interreligious understanding. He says of himself and his work:
I’m just a Buddhist minister trying to benefit beings. That’s all. Like anybody else, I’m also just trying to wake up. My role as a minister is simply about service. I see it as my responsibility to be available to fellow practitioners of all traditions. This could mean teaching dharma if I’m asked, or offering spiritual care and counseling. This could also mean pushing a broom in the Buddha hall, or volunteering to help a neighboring community that needs assistance. That’s all.