Prime Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation Nach Lama Rod Owens –

It wouldnt be an overstatement to say that the discovery and assertion of Siddhartha Gautama, the historic Buddhathat every human being, irrespective of caste, race, creed, or birth has within them the potential for waking up to the ultimate nature of realityis one of the most radically life altering propositions for human life on and in relationship to the planet One that we need right now Yet, at this time when the Dharma is neededacutely than evera time when our very existence is threatened as a result of our socially embedded greed, hatred, and ignorance its expansive potential to liberate us from suffering is in danger of being rendered impotent because it is held in subjugation to the very systems that it must thoroughly examine Thrust into the Western socioeconomic framework that puts profit above all and coupled with a desire to perpetuate institutional existence at the expense of illuminating reality and revealing deeper truths, the Dharma has become beholden to commodification as inescapable and de rigueur Authenticity and integrity are thus compromised Much of what is being taught is the acceptance of a kinder, gentler suffering that does not question the unwholesome roots of systemic suffering and the structures that hold it in place What is required is a new Dharma, a radical Dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies the systems of suffering, that starves rather than fertilizes the soil of the conditions that the deep roots of societal suffering grow in A new Dharma is one that insists we investigate not only the unsatisfactoriness of our own minds but also prepares us for the discomfort of confronting the obscurations of the society we are individual expressions of It recognizes that the delusions of systemic oppression are not solely the domain of the individual By design, they are seated within and reinforced by society We must wake up and cut through not only individual but also social ego This is not only our potential, but we now each have it as our collective responsibility As dharma communitiesthis includes people belonging to white led, Western communities of convert Buddhists, but also next generation yogis, Advaitins, Sikhs, and adopters of other Eastern traditionswe must also do so strategically, and with great haste There is No Neutral We are at a critical moment in the history of the nation, as well as within the Buddhist teaching and tradition in America This is the back of the bus moment of our time Fifty years after civil rights laws were laid down, it is clear that they were enshrined within a structure that continues to profit from anti Black racism The necessary bias that the system requires in order to be perpetuated has permeated our sanghasour spiritual communitiesand in this very moment, we are called to put aside business as usual If you have ever wondered how you would have shown up in the face of the challenge put before white America when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, upending the accepted social order, now is the time you will find out For Western convert Buddhist America, this is the time when we will actually embody our practice and teachings, or not Our inability as a nation to honor the theft of these lands and the building of wealth, power, and privilege on the countless backs and graves of Black people is our most significant obstacle to being at peace with ourselves, thus with the world The Buddhist community is a mirror image of this deep internal conflict that arises out of a persistent resistance to playing its appropriate societal role even as we have available to us rigorous teachings to the contrary This is a clarifying moment about who we are as individuals but also who we have been thus far as a collective of people laying claim to the teachings of the Buddha, waving the flag of wisdom and compassion all the while As demographics shift, ushering in increasingly racially diverse pools of seekers, this reluctance promises to be our undoing We simply cannot engage with either the ills or promises of society if we continue to turn a blind eye to the egregious and willful ignorance that enables us to still not get it in so many ways It is by no means our making, but given the culture we are emerging from and immersed in, we are responsible White folks particular reluctance to acknowledge impact as a collective while continuing to benefit from the construct of the collective leaves a wound intact without a dressing The air needed to breathe through forgiveness is smothered Healing is suspended for all Truth is necessary for reconciliation Will we express the promise of and commitment to liberation for all beings, or will we instead continue a hyper individualized salvation modelthe myth of meritocracythat is the foundation of this countrys untruth The work being done in Dharma communities is the same work being done by the America that wants to live up to its promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness Collectively, we must kick the habit of racism, cultural dominance, and the upholding of oppressive systems More poignantly, our challenge, our responsibility, our deep resounding call is to be at the forefront of this overdue evolutionary thrust forward Why Because we choose to position ourselves as the standard bearers of an ethical high ground And we have the tools and teachings to do so There is no neutral Radical Dharma Talking Race, Love, and Liberationis the book for right now Autostraddle It is rather astonishing that the Black tradition of continuous and endless enlightenment in this country produces its prophets as if bad laws, discrimination, horrors of financial inequality and so on, do not exist to blight the way No wonder one often imagines the ancestors laughingThis is a book to grow on, to deepen over, to partner with We are on a magnificent journey of liberation, every moment we are alive in this odd place that has yet to awaken to itself And we are always, generation to generation, ready to travel How cool is this Alice Walker, American novelist and poet Radical Dharma is a clear, honest testimony of the heart from three provocative leaders of our time You may not always see things just as they do I didnt or even feel like you fully understand it all again, I didnt but that makes it evenimportant to read Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real HappinessRadical Dharma is both radical and courageous The authors build upon the growing understanding of the connection between personal and societal liberation Radical Dharma unflinchingly turns this lens to this most challenging and critical nexus of racism and white supremacy We whites on a spiritual path are lovingly challenged to get our butts off the mat, understanding that our personal liberation is impossible while we unconsciously enjoy the privileges of our skin color Those in pain and enraged from the brutalities of oppression are lovingly challenged to get that we will never create a liberated society without attending to our own liberation This is not an easy book Just like a Zen koan, Radical Dharma asks provocative questions rather than prescriptive answers, questions that unsettle, questions that challenge some of our most precious assumptions Through personal stories and dialogue, we are invited on a powerful journey of spiritual and political awakening Take the invitation Robert Gass, EdD, cofounder, Rockwood Leadership Institute and Social Transformation Project This is a moving and crucial book for anyone interested in the flourishing of the dharma in the West Read it, sit with it and then get off the cushion and do something radical to make a difference Cheryl A Giles, Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling at Harvard Divinity School, coeditor of The Arts of Contemplative CarePioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work, and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Radical Dharma is a powerful and vulnerable circle held by three Dharma practitioners who are people of color It is a beautiful and rare invitation to listen to how each transformed their pain Some of this is familiar no one sees me because of my weight And some of this, for white people, will be new What does it look like to truly sit with the pain caused by racism in your body Radical Dharma demands that we step into the circle and ask How do we restore our humanity How do we transform ourselves and the world In this book, Rev angel Kyodo williams has created a powerful circle of truth around race and reconciliation Sit, participate, and be broken open and transformed Understand how the system of racism has traumatized all of us and how we need to heal individually and collectively Marianne Manilov, cofounder, Engage NetworkAfrican American and queer Buddhist teachers Rev angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens, with Professor Jasmine Syedullah, have brought their brilliant minds and courageous hearts together in their book Radical Dharma Talking Race, Love, and Liberation North Atlantic Books They have also included the voices of other liberation minded Buddhist practitioners, engaging them in conversations about what it should mean to practice Buddhism while bearing witness to police killings and mass incarcerations of Black people in the US This combination of intersecting identities, talking in trialogue and in face to face conversations with complete strangers, makes Radical Dharmaan unusual and fierce read Lions Roar