All rights reserved. Most of the white Buddhists I talk to are grateful for opportunities to talk and to learn about racism and white supremacy. That reluctance can only be transformed in spiritual practice, not by proof. This chapter traces the legacy of white supremacy in American Buddhism to “racial projects” conceived and implemented by Western Orientalists in the middle and late Victorian era. This is what is conducive to actually beginning to undo systematic white supremacy. A: I think that it’s so important to be an ally, to show up. Error! You can do it. I relate this back to everything that’s going on right now. By David MontgomeryJuly 21, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. CDT, Lama Rod Owens, 40, is a Buddhist teacher and activist. As white Southern activist Anne Braden said (memorialized by the FloBots), “You do have a choice. A Buddhist teacher's meditations on confronting white supremacy, After a 30-year run, AmCare Ambulance Service being taken over by Maryland-based Butler Medical Transport, Here’s a snapshot of where Colchester stands among Chittenden County towns in updated COVID-19 numbers, It will be hard to find a favorite room in this custom, four-bedroom St. Albans Town house. But the people who hurt us, they’re the furthest away from their pain. Even if it is a struggle, even if it’s hard to stay with the pain, you’re still doing it, and that for me is really encouraging to see. A: We can work socially for liberation, but there’s a different work that’s required for mental liberation. An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup. But of course it’s difficult to do it. For people who experience a lot of oppression and social marginalization, I think there’s a closer connection to the hurt than I would say for people who experience more social privilege. © 2020 Trauma Research Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit. Lama Rod Owens, 40, is a Buddhist teacher and activist. This study group is offered by Bamboo in the Wind Zen Sangha for people who want to learn about the history of racism and its continuation in the form of systemic racism and the ideology of white supremacy. You don’t have to be a part of the world of the lynchers. Top. Cheah finds that Orientalist discourses concerning Buddhism contain a racial ideology of white supremacy, which can be recognized within contemporary practices of American Buddhism. Michaelis was now a Buddhist leading a clean, steady lifestyle. By David MontgomeryJuly 21, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. CDT. When I’m working with white folks, it’s helping to support white folks in actually connecting to the trauma of whiteness and what whiteness has meant, whiteness as a system that has to be maintained because that’s where identity location has been planted. Cheah argues that Said's Orientalism (1979) does not take into account racial ideologies that were embedded in the intertwined projects of imperialism and the construction of Buddhism by Euro-Americans. All those horrifying little thoughts that white people might have - eg: Have you ever felt superior to, or suspicious of, black people? White supremacy or White supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other races and thus should dominate them. In part, this longing emerges from the reluctance of white people in power to accept, and see clearly by opening their eyes, that white supremacy informs the shaping of Buddhist communities, individual interactions, publications, etc. White people doing that work are the white people that I trust the most. Ethics means this is what is conducive to liberation, or another way of putting that is, this is what’s conducive to the reduction of violence. People are scared. But at the end of the day, your allyship isn’t the work that’s required to undo whiteness. The primary difference is the explicit focus on race. Without the pain, without getting close to your pain, it’s not going to be changed. A Buddhist Teacher’s Meditations on Confronting White Supremacy. Too often, as a result, our churches are safe spaces for people like John T. Earnest. And so once I started learning and having experiences in ultimate liberation, I then began to bridge the social liberation work together with the ultimate liberation. There is never enough proof. For me, we have to bring ethics back into secular mindfulness. His new book is Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger. People are scared. You have permission to edit this article. The following month, after nine people were gunned down while praying in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, Buddhists for Racial Justice (BRJ) was formed, a national network of Buddhist practitioners and communities. It is a claim of superiority that white supremacy has granted you, and that you cannot accept without becoming a willing proponent of this white supremacist system. Stemming in part from Orientalist racial projects, vestiges of white supremacy ideology can still be detected today in the controversy surrounding who represents "American Buddhism" and the smorgasbord of approaches in Buddhist practices that are taken for granted in many meditation centers, hospitals, and other institutions. Q: Can mindfulness, which I think of as a spiritual practice, help with the kinds of things social activism deals with — for example, racial trauma? We have not been able to wall ourselves off, or to numb ourselves, (in order) to participate in a system of oppressing others. While academic and popular studies of Buddhism have often neglected race as a factor of analysis, the issues concerning race and racialization have remained not far below the surface of the wider discussion among ethnic Buddhists, converts, and sympathizers regarding representations of American Buddhism and adaptations of Buddhist practices to the American context. In Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation, the author maintains that while race is often bracketed in the works on American Buddhism, the issues concerning race and racialization have remained not far below the surface of the wider discussion among white Buddhists and sympathizers regarding representations of American Buddhism and adaptations of Buddhist … You can do it. People remain perfectly comfortable holding and acting out white supremacist views while attending our churches. But h… What do you make of where they’re coming from? This is the first time that Omi and Winant's racial formation theory has been applied to the study of American Buddhism; This is the first time that Ling-chi Wang's dual domination paradigm has been applied to religious studies And We're All Feeling It, A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications, In Memory of Rich Simon by Psychotherapy Network. In Buddhism I saw that there’s an ultimate liberation that comes with a mental liberation. His new book is "Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger." It’s like we’re just reflecting back this reality that, yeah, everyone’s hurting, you know, and we’re close to our hurting. A: When you’re close to your suffering you’re close to your humanity, and when you’re close to your humanity you become a mirror that reflects other people’s humanity back to them. I see some similarities with the folks, earlier on in the pandemic, white folks who were going out, you know, demonstrating to open up everything. You’re working for freedom on both fronts. [30] [31] Politicians and world leaders condemned it, [32] and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days". People are hurt. A: For me love is an expression of acceptance. Even Afro-Cubans, like the head of the Proud Boys, can be white supremacists now. Such a book-length study as this stands to transform the discourse on American Buddhism and Asian … A: It all comes from hurt, and for me, I don’t judge the hurt. And so once I started learning and having experiences in ultimate liberation, I then began to bridge the social liberation work together with the ultimate liberation. Its purpose is the maintenance and defense of a system of wealth, power, and privilege. Do you judge angers? There was an error processing your request. But of course it’s difficult to do it. Q: The white people who are out in the streets now, they don’t feel the same trauma, but they’re animated by something as well. We don't need to submerge them or swat them away. For me, we have to bring ethics back into secular mindfulness. Lama Rod Owens, 40, is a Buddhist teacher and activist. I think we have to have the conversation to get into the hurt itself. Colonial Legacy of White Supremacy in American Buddhism - Oxford Scholarship. The ultimate liberation was an extension of the mental liberation that we cultivated through meditation. What are you actually doing in channeling the energy of this anger, and is that channeling of the energy actually helping you to somehow take care of the hurt? Why tie those terms together as opposed to stressing any one of them in isolation? We’re just hurt. Get a selection of the Messenger's best reporting direct to your inbox each and every morning. Eugene Burnouf, Brian Houghton, and other first-generation Western Orientalists articulated the project of modernity of the Enlightenment era, where knowledge about Asian textual Buddhism … There are people marching for black lives and against police brutality. The particularly local problem—the historical institutionalized racism and white supremacy within American Buddhist centers—is given a timeless quality when placed within the framework of the Buddha’s life. There is a similarity, which is hurt. Some have offered healings and teachings to local BLM chapters, and others have committed to addressing “the poison of white supremacy and ending … Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger, What Is Neurofeedback? The prevalence of white supremacy among most Christian Nationalists is unknown but probably small; with Christian Identity, however, it is typically a fundamental belief. A: To sit with all the manifestations of white supremacy, the manifestation of white supremacy from our ancestors, the disappointment of being born into the system that disproportionately disadvantages brown and black people, to sit with the totality of everything. I relate this back to everything that’s going on right now. In Buddhism I saw that there’s an ultimate liberation that comes with a mental liberation. Cheah investigates the effects of white supremacy on both convert Buddhists and Burmese ethnic Buddhists, comparing how both groups have adapted Buddhist practices to an American context. The ultimate liberation was an extension of the mental liberation that we cultivated through meditation. Q: Can you tell the story of how Buddhism turned out to be the way (for you) to be an activist? People are hurt. The Truth Awakened To. People are frustrated. This is why I think black and brown people are so situated to be the leaders of liberation and freedom, you know, because we’re closer to what makes us human. Not to Your Brain, Therapist: Trauma Is An Experience Of The Body. Can mindfulness, which I think of as a spiritual practice, help with the kinds of things social activism deals with — for example, racial trauma? The tension between being hurt and wanting to take care of myself, that tension is what anger and rage really are. We’re just hurt. He killed six people and wounded four, then killed himself. Buddhist mindfulness is about liberation through cultivating awareness and ethics. A: To sit with all the manifestations of white supremacy, the manifestation of white supremacy from our ancestors, the disappointment of being born into the system that disproportionately disadvantages brown and black people, to sit with the totality of everything. Can you tell the story of how Buddhism turned out to be the way [for you] to be an activist? ... George Yancy: Over the years you have used the expression “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to describe the power structure underlying the social order. In this way "white supremacy operates in the United States as an invisible standard of normality for many white Buddhists and sympathizers" (4). There are people marching for black lives and against police brutality. But of course it’s difficult to do it. Then there’s the anger of, say, white men who are threatened or angry at beginning to lose their privilege. How do anger and rage connect with trauma and brokenheartedness? A: Anger and rage are actually trying to point us to the trauma and the brokenheartedness. It's not simply that Christians should rule as God's chosen people, but that White Christians should rule. And that experience will slowly begin to divest you from the ways in which you’ve been trained and taught to participate in the system. The tension between being hurt and wanting to take care of myself, that tension is what anger and rage really are. White supremacy can seem like a dramatic term, conjuring images of the KKK or Nazi Germany. Buddhist mindfulness is about liberation through cultivating awareness and ethics. On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and turned a gun on the congregation. Q: How do anger and rage connect with trauma and brokenheartedness? We can work socially for liberation, but there’s a different work that’s required for mental liberation. These days white supremacy is more about Eurocentrism than eugenics. Mindfulness, as it’s taught in the mainstream, will not be enough to undo trauma, racism and so forth. And you can sit with it. You’re working for freedom on both fronts. [33] All the way there. I think a good example is whiteness, white supremacy. A: To sit with all the manifestations of white supremacy, the manifestation of white supremacy from our ancestors, the disappointment of being born into the system that disproportionately disadvantages brown and black people, to sit with the totality of everything. ‎In this episode, we go there. Ethics means this is what is conducive to liberation, or another way of putting that is, this is what’s conducive to the reduction of violence. White supremacy refers to the racialized perceptions that govern how we classify people and respond to them. Q: You speak about how it’s time to create a movement, and that black and brown people are in a unique position to understand what suffering is, and that’s why they have the duty (to lead the movement). Like, yes, social activism — but also spiritual activism. Abstract. There is a similarity, which is hurt. - let's drag them out of the subconscious and look at them. Success! Race and Religion in American Buddhism White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation Joseph Cheah AAR Academy Series. A: Mindfulness, as it’s taught in the mainstream, will not be enough to undo trauma, racism and so forth. This is what is conducive to actually beginning to undo systematic white supremacy. Buddhist philosophy has much to contribute to furthering our understanding of whiteness and racial identity, the mechanisms that create and maintain white supremacy, and the possibility of dismantling white supremacy. 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