The weekend was hosted by Lion’s Roar and Union Theological Seminary’s Thich Nhat Hanh Program for Engaged Buddhism, with support from the Hemera Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation. Ruth King is an insight meditation teacher and emotional wisdom author and life coach. So aspects of the Dharma are as easily discovered in Western and black American culture as they are in Eastern ones, in Christianity as well as Islam, because the Buddhist experience. Because Buddhism is a cultural concept, individuals who self-describe as Buddhists may have little knowledge or commitment to Buddhism as a religion or practice; on the other hand, others may be deeply involved in meditation and committed to the Dharma, but may refuse the label "Buddhist". Leading African American Buddhist teachers offer lessons on racism, resilience, spiritual freedom, and the possibility of a truly representative American Buddhism. guāng míng; Jpn.kōmyō; Kor. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei, peers at society, change, love, and justice through the lens of dharma. . . Do not rely on anything, For me, activism means manifesting these beautiful teachings that I have been given. enlightenment as absolute freedom resonated with me because I was someone who had always thought about liberation. Can I tell you how I really feel, but also maintain a sense of respect and humanity? In Africa, there’s a religion very much like Buddhism called Ifa. And the third door is, Will it cause no harm? This is one of the beauties of the Buddhadharma. (Beyonce Knowles last December gave her husband, Jay-Z, whose fortune is worth $450 million, the most expensive car in the world, a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport priced at $2 million; a month later Oprah Winfrey premiered her own network, appropriately named OWN; and Kanye West just spent $180,000 for a watch in his own image, which is only slightly less than the $250,000 that rapper Usher paid a New York luxury watch company to create a timepiece with his face on it.) Charles R. Johnson is an American scholar and the author of novels, short stories, screenplays, and essays, most of which have a philosophical orientation. Courtenaye Lawrence led a group of people in a west African dance called 'Fanga, ' during a celebration of Juneteenth in East Orange today. Ralph Steele: It has been lonely for me too. There must be a rhythm of alteration between attacking the cause and healing the effects.”. D.C.: ... resources for nation building. Dr. Kamilah Majied: I grew up with a black Muslim liberation practice. The first ten vows are as follows: Whenever I describe these precepts to friends in the academic and art worlds, many of them balk and say, “I can’t do that” when they hear number 5 (“Do not indulge in intoxicating substances”), numbers 6 and 7 (“Do not speak of others’ errors and faults,” and “Do not elevate self and blame others”), and especially number 9 (“Do not give way to anger”). We turn our practice back to ourselves continually, and we get an idea of what we can do that will be fervent and yet effective. I’ll never despise you. A distinctively “American Buddhism” is in the process of emerging. We’re sitting here, come find us. And it is violence and anger more than anything else that we must “let go.” But we need clear, practical guidelines to do that. Has been published in Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle and The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and offers talks, retreats and workshops in more than seven countries. Thich Nhat Hanh, who has an image of Jesus in his place of meditation, refers to this ontology as “interbeing.” So aspects of the Dharma are as easily discovered in Western and black American culture as they are in Eastern ones, in Christianity as well as Islam, because the Buddhist experience is the human experience. He holds a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School and is a co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation. It tells us that the items and beliefs we hold dear and sacred are meaningless nick knacks or empty sayings you can make into cat memes. While black people represented 13 percent of the US population in 2005, they were the victims of 49 percent of all murders, 15 percent of rapes, assaults, and other violent crimes nationwide, and most of the black murder victims—93 percent—were killed by other black people. Something also attractive to black American practitioners is the fact that in its proto-empiricism and with its flavor of phenomenology, early Buddhism rejects any reliance on apta vacana (received opinion) or appeals to an authority. by Carol Cooper. For me, it is a practical methodology and psychology that can liberate our heart and our mind. Black people are going to find freedom.” That was in my head my whole life: freedom and liberation. I had to work it out. If we let judgment get in the way of improvising, it always screws us up. In America’s prisons, where on average the 2.25 million persons incarcerated in 2006 had fewer than eleven years of schooling, about half are black. Our artistry is important as cultural medicine. Can I do that with sensitivity and care, while still saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done? I’ve been very fortunate to have found a welcoming dharma family where I practice, and I’m very grateful for that. They are taken by laity and monks alike, and I took them in the Soto Zen school with the mendicant monk and peace activist Claude AnShin Thomas. In 2003, Turning Wheel, the journal of socially engaged Buddhism, devoted a special issue to “Black Dharma.” In that issue, Rebecca Walker, the daughter of the writer Alice Walker and a well-known Buddhist writer herself, interviewed the Vajrayana teacher Choyin Rangdröl. In its broadest sense, it refers to a philosophical inquiry into existence itself. That’s important, but it’s not 100 percent of our practice. . Learn through your own love, compassion, and kindness. This understanding is so missing in our world. Create your own pathways to change. It’s about our liberation. After the trial period, the fourteen-and fifteen-year-old boys were “found to have increased well-being, defined as the combination of feeling good (including positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, interest and affection) and functioning well.” The researcher behind this project, Professor Felicia Huppert, said, “We believe that the effects of mindfulness training can enhance well-being in a number of ways . During that interview, she asked him, “What led to your decision to bring the Dharma to African Americans?” He replied, “When I discovered that it was possible to avoid becoming ensnared in the mentality of an angry black man by applying Buddhism, I felt I had found a great treasure not just for me but also for resonance in millions of black people’s minds.”, Equally interesting is a 2003 interview in Tricycle with George Mumford, a sports psychologist who teaches vipassana meditation to the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, and who overcame years of drug and alcohol addiction. In the 1930s, African Americans started migrating from southern US to the east side of the city. It shows me where I am telling myself all these stories and how I’m living a life that is sabotaging my own liberation. People can rub themselves against your stand and really learn from your stand, and it isn’t so easily misused. It’s not just what we think. Pamela Ayo Yetunde, J.D., Th.D., is the co-editor of Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom. And by others, I mean all other sentient beings, whatever color their bodies are. That human revolution, that inner cleansing, made me see how much I was in charge. Finding that “we” space is really important. At our best we’re nonjudgmental. The faintest experience of Nirvana or sunyata—the emptiness at the heart of all things—extinguishes like a candle’s flame the craving and thirst (trishna) described in the First and Second Noble Truths. Concentrates on sources particularly influential in East Asian Buddhist traditions. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Woman in Buddhism award for her work on behalf of Buddhist nuns, specifically her co-founding in 1995 a nunnery that houses fifty Buddhist nuns ages forty-two to eighty-three in India. When that’s taken care of, then I’m qualified to fight the good fight. . The first black teacher I met was me. One in nine black men between the ages of twenty and thirty-four is in prison. If you’re just looking to confirm what you’re already thinking about people and the world, the Buddha’s teachings might not be the right place for you. . In this culture, then, it is difficult to let go of pride (maana), and anger, which is a form of violence and one of the three defilements, along with greed and ignorance, though Saddhatissa points out in Buddhist Ethics, “By allowing anger to arise I am like one who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement and by so doing either burn or soil myself.” Although simple and straightforward (and, of course, demanding), the precepts embody the spirit of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the paramitas, and in them we can see the distillation of Buddhist metaphysics. Hindu prince of southern Nepal. . Does that make a difference to what you do? In nearby Hamtramck, the Detroit Zen Center was founded in 1990. Dr. Kamilah Majied is a mental health therapist, educator, and consultant on inclusivity and contemplative pedagogy and practice. I really enjoyed Baptist church, but I did not understand the path to liberation. But we sometimes forget that one of the triple jewels of Buddhism is sangha, community. A longtime practitioner in the Theravada tradition, he has been teaching and leading programs since 1987. She has been active in prison ministry, and currently supports two sanghas and assorted individuals throughout the Texas prison system. Strand, writing for Tricycle (an American Buddhist journal) in 2004, notes that SGI has specifically targeted African-Americans, Latinos and Asians, and other writers have noted that this approach has begun to spread, with Vipassana and Theravada retreats aimed at non-white practitioners led by a handful of specific teachers. What is it about Buddhism that drew you to it? No one is free from the pandemic’s impact, including Lion’s Roar. In his book, The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics, Robert Aitken Roshi said (p.17), "The absolute position, when isolated, omits human details completely. Soka Gakkai, a popular style of Japanese-style Buddhism for American converts, is known as being the most welcoming to African Americans and Latinos. He takes the side of wisdom. They are as politically sophisticated, aware of the history of oppression, and concerned with social justice as their predecessors. This first-wave, new generation of black American Buddhists includes in its ranks politicians like Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, a member of Soka Gakkai International; entertainers such as Tina Turner; and the jazz great Herbie Hancock, who in a 2007 interview for Beliefnet said. It’s also necessary to find our own ways of working so that we can create spaces like what we have created in this room, in which we actually work together and envision another way of being in this society. Coming together allows us to talk about it, to share our wounds, to heal each other, and to acknowledge the pain and the loss we all suffer when we are separated. Historically, we are a violent nation. It can change. If dharma is going to be authentic through our bodies, we can’t sit in the location of not taking sides. Gathering together and having this documented is proof for all the Buddhist teachers who say there aren’t any black people in their tradition who practice. Placing black Buddhists within American religious history in general, and American Buddhist history specifically, requires that we reconsider the historical paradigms with which scholars have understood the transmission of Buddhism to the United States. Ruth King: Sometimes we have to intervene and sometimes we have to pass and care for ourselves. “For example,” he says. Clearly, Mr. Hancock does not have an image of himself based on his being in any way “inferior” or a “victim.” Those conceptualizations can poison the mind and the human spirit. When in spaces with other people of color, there are a lot of different forms in which our liberation can express itself. He stated that “to be called African American has cultural integrity,” citing groups like Italian Americans and Arab Americans as examples. Myokei Caine-Barrett: I was raised as a Methodist and I had to go to church every Sunday. They meet at the home of Duran, the Native American Buddhist who co-taught the beginner's course with Sala, and follow the same schedule as most meditation gatherings: a 40-minute sit, a dharma talk and socializing afterwards. It was the first time I had a sense of control in my life.”. So we take whatever happens and try to make it work. We are like the Black entertainment Television of Buddhism. Either way, please allow us to re-introduce ourselves: After you reach ten thousand hours of practice you begin to let things be, and when you go over ten thousand hours of practice…yeah, now you’re smiling. She is the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace, and co-author, with Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah Ph.D., of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. Afro-American religions (also African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas among African slaves and their descendants in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of the southern United States. We have created obstacles, traps, and racial minefields for young black men, and long demonized them as violent, criminal, stupid, lazy, and irresponsible. I think this is a very important aspect of what the dharma can bring to the Western constructs that live inside of dichotomies. There’s a reason for suffering. This chapter takes a step toward the theorization of discourses of race and racialization within the American Buddhist context. It’s privilege that allows people to say, “We’re going to have a dharma that’s about not taking sides.” I think colored folks and black folks really bring forth the truth that we can’t afford not to be the dharma that is expressed through these bodies. For me, it’s been a long, lonely journey. But I could also mention the political violence in our time, from the assassinations of King, Malcolm X, both Kennedys, and so many others in the 1960s to the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing of six others, including a nine-year-old girl, in Arizona. About half of African Buddhists are now living in South Africa, while Mauritius has the highest Buddhist percentage in the continent, between 1.5% to 2% of the total population. At a certain point, though, the practice begins to teach you how to let go and let things be. A Buddhist leader told me to chant about it, and it was through my practice that wisdom arose in terms of how I could handle and change that situation. Konda Mason: Growing up black in America, I always heard about freedom and liberation. According to 2010s estimates, Buddhist adherents are increasing to between 0.2% 0.3% of the South African … “Excuse my language, but my ass was on fire. Do not rely on others. First, because one’s happiness and salvation, awakening and liberation from suffering, rests entirely in one’s own hands (i.e., the karmic cause and effect relationship that so impressed Herbie Hancock). But this is the exact kind of suffering Buddhism seeks to stop. In order to appreciate why the theologian Paul Tillich once called Buddhism “one of the greatest, strangest, and at the same time most competitive of the religions proper,” and why it is attractive to black Americans in the post–civil rights era, we must see that Buddhism neither accepts nor rejects the idea of God. “I can use Buddhist methods,” she said, “to practice Baptist ideals.” This sidestepping of an apparent conflict based on dualistic thinking is made possible because the Dharma—or teachings—is wisdom not monopolized by the cultures of the Far East. I don’t think taking sides suggests that we negate the humanity of everyone else’s position. “We must work on two fronts,” he said. Learn more about African Americans, including their history, culture, and contributions. Because racial justice is an integral part of a Buddhism. “People of color,” said Willis in an interview, “because of our experience of the great and wrenching historical dramas of slavery, colonization, and segregation, understand suffering in a way that our white brothers and sisters do not.” That understanding, she said, provides a kind of “head start” in comprehending essential elements in Buddhist philosophy. Each conception of “I am,” “I was,” or “I will” is simultaneously a birth. Dr. Pannavati: We have to decide whether we want to just fight or fight the good fight. It gives us an opportunity to hold ourselves more accountable about some of the stuff we may not get to when we are in multiracial spaces. We take sides in a way that doesn’t separate. Dr. Kamilah Majied: In terms of whether or not we choose sides, I think about something Dr. King said: “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be? I’m convinced that in terms of what we traditionally call “ethics,” the twenty-six-hundred-year-old Dharma of Buddhism must be part of that conversation. Buddhism said it’s up to you, you are responsible, you take charge of your own life. It’s easy to go off or to reach for something to ease the pain. When I see you, I see me. This interconnection of all beings is real. There are also songs for rituals and religious holidays, such as the celebration of the Buddha's birthday in the spring. If something is causing harm, that’s not okay. Sometimes we intervene at the individual level in our relationships. The idea of cause and effect, which is what Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō is about, made sense to me. Konda Mason: We have a difficulty with paradoxes. . It has been described as a kind of evangelical Buddhism which openly seeks converts. There are roughly 60,000 Americans living in Hong Kong, an estimated 10,000 of them black, according to an African-American expat who lives and works there. Black America’s spiritual destiny is in the wind. It involves all of the ways we live together in that one body that we call interconnectedness. Question: What challenges have you faced as people of color in your Buddhist tradition and how do you overcome those challenges? The Dharma is the Light. It’s the practice of Bodhisattva Jofuku, who says to everyone he meets, even the person who hates him: “I respect you. A Theravada nun, she has also received dharma transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemakers. It’s incumbent upon us to find out where we are. . It stands for "People of Color and Allies," and is made up black, Latino, Native American, Asian and white practitioners. But you have to practice. “You’re going to find freedom one day. “If King could speak to us today,” Congressman Lewis said in 1994. he would say, in addition to doing something about guns, he would say there needs to be a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas in the black community. 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