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Buddha-Dhamma and Confronting Racism

explorations with Tender Shoot of Joy and other Sanghas

the Spring series has concluded; there will be follow ups TBA

Sufferings | Origins | Quenching-End | Path-Practices

Everyone mindful of the suffering in our society will be aware of the rash of killings of young black men at the hands of police officers, cries of police brutality, on-going protests, political gamesmanship and distorting media coverage. There are many ways to respond to these dhammas/realities. Please join us as Tender Shoot of Joy and Liberation Park explore responses grounded in Buddha-Dhamma.

We will begin by inquiring into these forms of social violence and the underlying pervasive racism from the perspectives of the Buddha's teachings: Can we use the Buddha-Dhamma to probe the complexities and emotions in ways that guide our responses both personal and collective? Can Buddha-Dhamma help us release the lingering ways that racism and violence infect all of us and re-create suffering on a daily basis?

In a series of monthly Wednesday evening sessions, Santikaro and TSOJ friends will dig into these hard and painful realities. The overarching framework is the fourfold ennobling realities: What is the distress & suffering here? From where does this distress & suffering arise? What is the end of this distress & suffering? How do we respond and live so as to stop feeding this distress & suffering?

~ The Sufferings of Racism (Jan 28)

Buddha-Dhamma begins and ends with suffering and the end of suffering. When ignorance rules, we make up stories about suffering that divide us and lock in defensiveness. With deeper understanding, suffering catalyzes compassion, which unites us. Racism is a destructive cluster of attitudes and behaviors that engender suffering for everyone -- people of color and of pallor, the privileged, both more and less. Let us ennoble ourselves through the Buddha's first truth: we are all suffering from this mess. It hurts each of us. Please join us in open-hearted inquiry, guided by Buddha-Dhamma, of this festering social wound.

audio > recording was lost (will be redone)

~ The Poison in Racism (Feb 25)

Traditionally, dukkha/suffering is understood to be difficult to bear and ugly when seen for what it truly is. Nobody wants to suffer or have hardship imposed on us. This ugliness is apparent in the fires and poisons that feed suffering, such as greed, hatred, fear, and delusion. In racism, these are really ugly, and create great hardship! Buddha-Dhamma teaching and practice aims to recognize and quench these fires. How do these poisons feed racism in and around us on a daily basis? How can we apply the antidote to these poisons and stop feeding the ugliness of racism?

audio > The Fires of Racism - talk | question and responses | further conversation

~ Identities on Fire with Racism (Mar 11)

Mindful of how we all suffer from racism, and that we don't suffer equally, how can Buddha-Dhamma help us understand the origins of our sufferings? Last time, we explored the fires and poisons of racism, the destructive forms of egoism that give birth to racism every day. Identity plays a big role in the egoisms we enact, including racial identities:

~ who we think we are,

~ who others think we are,

~ who we think others are.

"Identities are socially constructed. We buy into them and also have them imposed on us even when we reject them. To delve deeper into these origins we will explore identity, the conceit 'I am,' and its role in 'comparing mind.' A special case is the 'good person' we wish to be and its counterpart, 'I'm not a racist.' We aim to move beyond comparing and judging based on superficial differences in order to live in respect and appreciation of the very real differences that foster vitality and beauty.

Traditionally, dukkha/suffering is understood to be difficult to bear and ugly when seen for what it truly is. Nobody wants to suffer or have hardship imposed on us. This ugliness is apparent in the fires and poisons that feed suffering, such as greed, hatred, fear, and delusion. In racism, these are really ugly, and create great hardship! Buddha-Dhamma teaching and practice aims to recognize and quench these fires. How do these poisons feed racism in and around us on a daily basis? How can we apply the antidote to these poisons and stop feeding the ugliness of racism?

audio > Identities on Fire with Racism - talk | question and responses | further conversation

~ Quenching the Sufferings of Racism (April 8)

In our previous sessions we explored the sufferings, fires, poisons, and identities of racism. These correspond to the first two ennobling realities of the Buddha's teaching:

~ the reality of racism's sufferings

~ the reality of the origins, conditions, and supports for racism and its sufferings

Looking to the other side of the balance, the third and fourth ennobling truths, we may ask:

~ what does the quenching of racism and its sufferings look like?

~ what is the path to the quenching of racism and its sufferings? how do we practice for this end?

In our fourth session, let's inquire, imagine, and dream how the quenching of racism will feel, look, be. Without racism, how will we see other people, especially those who are different from us? How will we behave towards people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds? How will we feel inside when experiencing the differences that now operate as triggers for racial perceptions, stereotypes, biases, and identities?

audio > Quenching the Sufferings of Racism - talk | conversation | further conversation

~ The Path of Dismantling Racism and Its Sufferings (May 13)

Our final session will focus on Path, the way of quenching suffering. What can we do to quench the causes and conditions of racism and its suffering?

Path can be understood in two ways. First, how can we confront, dismantle, and eliminate racism in our lives, communities, and society? This requires understanding its causality, which we've begun to explore using the perspectives of Buddha-Dhamma. However, we will need many tools to understand its causes with sufficient subtlety, realism, and depth. Second, as we work to unravel this nasty business, we must acknowledge that the sufferings due to racism aren't going away overnight. Consequently, the path question also becomes how can we co-exist with the ugliness, fires, and poisons while working to decrease suffering.

To begin this inquiry, please review the Dhamma practices with which you are familiar and ask how they can disentangle the sufferings and causalities we have discussed in this series. Please be as concrete and specific as possible. For example, mindfulness surely has an important role. How? Mindfulness of what? In what areas of life and experience? When and where?

audio > Sharing of Merits (guided) | The Path of Quenching Racism - Introduction | The Path of Quenching Racism - conversation

Also ...

~ Comparing Mind & "Me" (Jan 7 in La Crosse)

Meditators are familiar with the nasty habits of 'comparing mind.' This talk explores some of the ways they show up in meditation and traces them to conceit (mana). When we live from the conceit of "I am," we conceive of "other," which easily leads to "us" and "them." Adding the tendency to compare in terms of 'better than' and 'worse than' provides the fodder for racial comparisons and biases.

audio > talk