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Thread: Diverse voices

  1. #1
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Diverse voices

    I find the vast majority of Buddhism in the so-called West to be extremely white, middle class, able bodied and free of those who are neuro-diverse. This cannot be argued. I like that TL continues to try to be inclusive but in such an ongoing radical project change is going to be slow. We can do better. We can play catch-up. But it's hard to change and be inclusive when the lived experience of minorities are not being directly listened to. In the spirit of this post I came across this book and wondered if anyone has read it.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/...ology-n1251404


    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    I find the vast majority of Buddhism in the so-called West to be extremely white, middle class, able bodied and free of those who are neuro-diverse. This cannot be argued. I like that TL continues to try to be inclusive but in such an ongoing radical project change is going to be slow. We can do better. We can play catch-up. But it's hard to change and be inclusive when the lived experience of minorities are not being directly listened to. In the spirit of this post I came across this book and wondered if anyone has read it.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/...ology-n1251404


    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    I agree with your initial point — it's something that I've discussed with people before, to the point it has its own term: "Upper-middle way". Treeleaf is probably the most diverse, inclusive, and progressive sangha I've seen, and there's always room to improve (which I'm glad TL is always looking for ways to do so).

    I haven't read the book, though I've heard only good things, and have followed Ms. Giles for a while, as I'm looking at HDS for graduate school in the future, and she's a genuine soul. I'm going to pick it up as soon as I can afford to

    Gassho,
    Jesse
    ST

  3. #3
    This is honestly the only sangha where I feel "at home" because I see such a diversity of people here. I don't feel like I have to represent anyone here or explain queer people who look like me to anyone either, it's really nice!

    Gassho
    Kyōsen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse View Post
    I agree with your initial point — it's something that I've discussed with people before, to the point it has its own term: "Upper-middle way". Treeleaf is probably the most diverse, inclusive, and progressive sangha I've seen, and there's always room to improve (which I'm glad TL is always looking for ways to do so).

    I haven't read the book, though I've heard only good things, and have followed Ms. Giles for a while, as I'm looking at HDS for graduate school in the future, and she's a genuine soul. I'm going to pick it up as soon as I can afford to

    Gassho,
    Jesse
    ST
    The most diverse Buddhist group I know is SGI (Soka Gakkai International), which is considered a "new religion" in Japan, but has made great inroads in the west. You may have seen that Tina Turner, Herbie Hancock, Orlando Bloom and many famous musicians/actors are members.

    But they succeed by preaching a kind of Buddhist "prosperity gospel" and being very, very aggressive in proselytizing, being exclusive, promising "pie in the sky when ya die" (or maybe hell fires to those who don't join) ... in other words, they are very similar to many Christian church groups in the west. (I offer this comment as a constructive observation, trying not to criticize other Buddhists who may find benefit and peace there). It also has aspects like "the Secret" ... if you wish something with enough faith, it will come into your life.

    The Zen groups are not so attractive as the "chanting" Buddhist groups who offer a Messiah like figure (the SGI puts its faith in the mystic power of the Lotus Sutra ... not with regard to its contents ... but the magic power of the book, and the name of the book, itself). We don't proselytize or promise "this worldly benefits" so much (like business success, healing of health problems, the car and job you desire, etc.). We are not even very colorful and dramatic in our presentation (no smoke effects and light shows, for the most part.) So, it makes it tough to attract folks, whatever their race or other background.

    In Japan, it is actually a very conservative political organization, connected with the coalition of the conservative ruling party for many decades.



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Speaking of the teachers of color we do have in Soto Zen, this video was just posted a few hours ago, and I have only had time to watch parts. The teacher is wonderful, and is one of the relatively small number of African-American or British teachers in Soto Zen that I know. It is certainly worth a listen just because she is such a wonderful teacher.


    Zenju was raised in the Church of Christ where she was an avid reader of the Bible and adored the true teachings on Christ’s path well into adulthood. She also participated in ceremony with Ifá diviners from Dahomey, Africa and studied Yoruba. She holds a Ph.D. and formally worked for decades as a social science researcher, development director for non-profit organizations and those serving women and girls, cultural arts, and mental health.

    She is the dharma heir of Buddha and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman (in photo) in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage through the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). She was Shuso (head Student) with Kiku Christina Lehnherr and her Dharma Transmission was completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju’s practice is influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In this interview, we will be asking important questions such as:

    What does Zen mean to you?
    How is the Zen different/unique from other sects of Buddhism?
    What kind of expectation do people have when they come to Zen practice?
    What is the difference between therapy and dharma?
    Is it wrong to look for spirituality in Zen?
    What does “Zen is good for nothing” mean?
    What are the benefits of Zen?
    When do we see the benefit of Zen?
    What is the difference between shikantaza and zazen?
    What is the right posture of zazen? What the purpose of staring at the wall while sitting? What is the story behind “the white wall”?
    How many hours do you expect to meditate if you are a beginner and how many hours do you meditate?
    How could zen help to overcome difficult circumstances/situations such as discrimination (racism/sexism/homophobia)?
    How can we do simple Zen meditation at home? Or can we do it?
    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-20-2020 at 03:49 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Jesse -Upper Middle Way, I like it! I too, wouldn't mind getting a copy of this book myself.
    Kyosen - I'm happy you feel at home at TL.
    Jundo - I think it was my old martial arts teacher who referred to SGI as born again Buddhism haha. And thank you, I've not come across Zenju so will listen to this interview when I can.
    I'm actually still interested to see if anyone has heard of or read this book? Further to this I'm interested in hearing from diverse voices.
    It doesn't have to dissolve into the oppression olympics but anyone who says Practice is Practice where we leave identities at the Zendo door is in my opinion a fool.
    Yes when we sit we sit but when all of life is our temple the crossover of identity with Practice is reality. It may not be too challenging of a reality for most but for many of us the crossover can't be ignored. Nor should it. It's why anthologies such as this and the current book club book Zen Women should be prioritised reading. Once we've caught up with the broader Sangha (Jundo mentioned the conservatism of our school) we can then perhaps look at the Buddha Dharma or work of Dogen etc through a lens that may broaden our Practice rather than reinforce an understanding with blind spots. I love that we now have female identifying ancestors and Queer ancestors to study but we can and should listen to diverse voices while they're alive. Change doesn't have to always be retrospective.
    If anyone remotely sees this as an attack on TL or Jundo I would suggest they sit some Zazen, have a cup of tea then re-read this.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today

    *genuine apology for exceeding 3 sentences. I always endeavor to do and be better.
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    It doesn't have to dissolve into the oppression olympics but anyone who says Practice is Practice where we leave identities at the Zendo door is in my opinion a fool.
    Yes when we sit we sit but when all of life is our temple the crossover of identity with Practice is reality. It may not be too challenging of a reality for most but for many of us the crossover can't be ignored. Nor should it. It's why anthologies such as this and the current book club book Zen Women should be prioritised reading. Once we've caught up with the broader Sangha (Jundo mentioned the conservatism of our school) we can then perhaps look at the Buddha Dharma or work of Dogen etc through a lens that may broaden our Practice rather than reinforce an understanding with blind spots. I love that we now have female identifying ancestors and Queer ancestors to study but we can and should listen to diverse voices while they're alive. Change doesn't have to always be retrospective.
    If anyone remotely sees this as an attack on TL or Jundo I would suggest they sit some Zazen, have a cup of tea then re-read this.
    Well, Zen is based on same (beyond all differences, colors, categories, "you vs. me" etc.) yet different, different yet precisely same.

    That means that, yes, there is that aspect whereby we drop all differences whatsoever in Zazen and in the realization of our practice, whereby practice is just practice, zen is just zen, and there are no black, white, green or blue people, no genders or sexual identities of any kind, no Onka and no Jundo, all fully beyond difference. It is vital that we learn to experience this wholly absolute and unbroken truth.

    AND YET, we Zen folks never see this as only one way, thus there ARE differences (which are also sameness in other guise). There ARE black, white, green and blue people, genders and identities of great variety, an Onka and a Jundo, all fully unique. We can do much in a Sangha, and in Practice, to recognize, honor and welcome those differences too.

    So, it is all true ... no difference, yet there are differences to respect and learn from.

    Sorry I ran long too.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    YAHTZEE! Thank you Jundo for articulating what I wanted to say in a Zen way. I've been fortunate so far in my Practice to have had some interesting experiences while sitting but I'm yet to be able to express them more broadly to capture the complexity of the simplicity.
    Thank you again Jundo.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  9. #9
    Hi Onka

    Thank you for bringing that book to our attention. I had not heard of that before but have read Radical Dharma which is a look at race and Buddhism by two dharma teachers and a professor of African Studies.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Speaking of the teachers of color we do have in Soto Zen, this video was just posted a few hours ago, and I have only had time to watch parts. The teacher is wonderful, and is one of the relatively small number of African-American or British teachers in Soto Zen that I know. It is certainly worth a listen just because she is such a wonderful teacher.




    Gassho, J

    STLah
    I watched this and found it inspiring.

    Gassho

    Jinyo


    sat today

  11. #11
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Thanks Kokuu
    I'll add that book to the list to buy after I win lotto haha
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  12. #12
    Zenju Earthlyn also wrote this book which I totally recommend. The title is wonderfully misleading in that it refers to wlaking the way when you have been rubbed raw and tender by your life experience.

    https://www.amazon.com/Way-Tendernes.../dp/161429125X

    Stewart
    Sat

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