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Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening. The authors traveled around the country to spark an open conversation Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening. The authors traveled around the country to spark an open conversation that brings together the Black prophetic tradition and the wisdom of the Dharma. Bridging the world of spirit and activism, they urge a compassionate response to the systemic, state-sanctioned violence and oppression that has persisted against Black people since the slave era. With national attention focused on the recent killings of unarmed black citizens and the response of the Black-centered liberation groups such as Black Lives Matter, "Radical Dharma" demonstrates how social transformation and personal, spiritual liberation must be articulated and inextricably linked. Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah represent a new voice in American Buddhism. Offering their own histories and experiences as illustrations of the types of challenges facing dharma practitioners and teachers who are different from those of the past five decades, they ask how teachings that transcend color, class, and caste are hindered by discrimination and the dynamics of power, shame, and ignorance. Their illuminating argument goes beyond a demand for the equality and inclusion of diverse populations to advancing a new dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies systems of suffering and prepares us to weigh the shortcomings not only of our own minds but also of our communities. They forge a path toward reconciliation and self-liberation that rests on radical honesty, a common ground where we can drop our need for perfection and propriety and speak as souls. In a society where profit rules, people's value is determined by the color of their skin, and many voices including queer voices are silenced, Radical Dharma recasts the concepts of engaged spirituality, social transformation, inclusiveness, and healing.


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Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening. The authors traveled around the country to spark an open conversation Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening. The authors traveled around the country to spark an open conversation that brings together the Black prophetic tradition and the wisdom of the Dharma. Bridging the world of spirit and activism, they urge a compassionate response to the systemic, state-sanctioned violence and oppression that has persisted against Black people since the slave era. With national attention focused on the recent killings of unarmed black citizens and the response of the Black-centered liberation groups such as Black Lives Matter, "Radical Dharma" demonstrates how social transformation and personal, spiritual liberation must be articulated and inextricably linked. Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah represent a new voice in American Buddhism. Offering their own histories and experiences as illustrations of the types of challenges facing dharma practitioners and teachers who are different from those of the past five decades, they ask how teachings that transcend color, class, and caste are hindered by discrimination and the dynamics of power, shame, and ignorance. Their illuminating argument goes beyond a demand for the equality and inclusion of diverse populations to advancing a new dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies systems of suffering and prepares us to weigh the shortcomings not only of our own minds but also of our communities. They forge a path toward reconciliation and self-liberation that rests on radical honesty, a common ground where we can drop our need for perfection and propriety and speak as souls. In a society where profit rules, people's value is determined by the color of their skin, and many voices including queer voices are silenced, Radical Dharma recasts the concepts of engaged spirituality, social transformation, inclusiveness, and healing.

30 review for Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Writers of color challenge #8 Hey White People! pay attention. The three Black Queer Buddhist authors of this book present the idea that the steps toward eliminating racism in our culture involve a deeper understanding of ourselves. When we understand our own suffering, we can connect with that of others. I'm not Buddhist, I'm no scholar, I went to a few Dharma classes in Seattle about 10 years ago and I read on and off and I meditate on and off (but mainly off). This book was still approachable to Writers of color challenge #8 Hey White People! pay attention. The three Black Queer Buddhist authors of this book present the idea that the steps toward eliminating racism in our culture involve a deeper understanding of ourselves. When we understand our own suffering, we can connect with that of others. I'm not Buddhist, I'm no scholar, I went to a few Dharma classes in Seattle about 10 years ago and I read on and off and I meditate on and off (but mainly off). This book was still approachable to me (and there's a glossary in the back) and I could relate to it. There's a big message for white people here that I resonate with. (I am white btw.) White people gotta get in on anti-racism activism, and the place to start is with our own selves. When we first learn about how we have benefited from white supremacy in our culture, when we start to empathize with the daily challenges people of color face, we feel guilty, we get upset. We're like "but it's not my fault, I can't help it!" Which is true. But what we can do as a result of this privilege is act. The book suggests we work on our own selves, seek to understand our own sufferings. Where does the guilt come from? In what ways do we (perhaps unknowingly, perhaps not) perpetuate the system of white supremacy and oppression? How can we stop doing these things? Can we try to see how people without our privilege experience the system differently? When we search within ourselves (through meditation or whatever, this book doesn't actually discuss meditation much) and find these sources of suffering, come to terms with them, that's the beginning of our liberation from the suffering. And when we begin to understand our own suffering, we can begin understand that of others as well. Then compassion can begin. And eventually we can develop a compassionate community. Compassion toward ourselves, toward others who are different from us, who have had different experiences. Wouldn't that be a great thing to have? Black Buddhist practitioners and especially teachers/scholars aren't super common, and I like the voice and perspective these folks bring to their teachings. They delve into their backgrounds, how they fell into Buddhism, etc, and they feel like their lived experiences as Black Americans is a valuable addition to their perspective that should be incorporated into their teachings. This is rather radical, apparently, but it makes sense, especially if you are trying to apply 5000 year old teachings to a modern society. Lama Rod is my favorite and I want to go to one of his classes some day. One of his messages that hit me the most was about love - it's for a deep love of humanity that he does what he does, which includes love for himself and others and everyone and everything. I suspect that Black readers will find a lot of the experiences and feelings of the authors familiar as well. The authors express a lot of anger and frustration at our social/cultural/political systems and feel compelled to be activists to fight for justice and equity. They share personal experiences that are very relatable. A lot of what they said echoes my Black friends, voices on Twitter, etc. So what to do now? As a white person, I need to be vocal in my personal and professional spaces about pointing out when people are using privilege to oppress others (knowingly or not, usually it is not but that is sort of worse), amplify voices of people of color, and help to inform white folks that just because we are recipients of privilege doesn't mean we should just hang out with it and be happy, we should use it to make positive change in the world. We need to shed light on oppressive systems and help dismantle them. We need to fight for justice for all.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Wow, wow, wow. I took so many notes over the course of this read, found myself in deep internal conversation, and wanted to scream about it from the rooftops to everyone I know. In this book, co-authors Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Jasmine Syedullah Ph.D., and Lama Rod Owens offer touching, powerful words on the path to liberation. The words come from open, compassionate, honest dialogue among themselves and the people who came to engage with them in these public spheres so it reads very easily an Wow, wow, wow. I took so many notes over the course of this read, found myself in deep internal conversation, and wanted to scream about it from the rooftops to everyone I know. In this book, co-authors Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Jasmine Syedullah Ph.D., and Lama Rod Owens offer touching, powerful words on the path to liberation. The words come from open, compassionate, honest dialogue among themselves and the people who came to engage with them in these public spheres so it reads very easily and fluidly. Over the course of the book, they touch on privilege, racism, the power in an intentional sitting practice, love, healing, and so much more. My first read (because there will be *plenty* in the future) was with my library's copy of the book, but my Notes app is currently full to the brim with quotes, questions it brought up for my own path, and full page photographs of pieces that truly touched me. I absolutely encourage this read for anyone looking to grapple with the many challenges that come in this country from a thoughtful, loving, and frankly honest perspective.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Lewis

    On the one hand: profound and important. On the other hand: certain sections have so many neologisms/errors, mixed metaphors, and rapid changes of register that they're almost unreadable. Don't read this for the prose style but do read it. On the one hand: profound and important. On the other hand: certain sections have so many neologisms/errors, mixed metaphors, and rapid changes of register that they're almost unreadable. Don't read this for the prose style but do read it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jer Clarke

    This was a very valuable book to read, and I’m glad I got through it, but it wasn’t easy. There’s a lot of very deep wisdom embedded in the discussions and essays that make up this book, things I’ve been trying to think about but which are elusive when you’re on your own. The authors share a deep wisdom and experience of the issues of race and identity and their intersection with Buddhism that is impressive and intimidating. It was disturbing in many ways to read the descriptions of racism and i This was a very valuable book to read, and I’m glad I got through it, but it wasn’t easy. There’s a lot of very deep wisdom embedded in the discussions and essays that make up this book, things I’ve been trying to think about but which are elusive when you’re on your own. The authors share a deep wisdom and experience of the issues of race and identity and their intersection with Buddhism that is impressive and intimidating. It was disturbing in many ways to read the descriptions of racism and it’s corrupting role in our minds and society. I try to force myself as a white person to be exposed to these ideas with equanimity despite my automatic aversion. This is a very useful book if you are willing to face that challenge. I agreed already with much of the radical perspective on race found in the book, but some of it was just wild, so it gave me a chance to try to expand my horizons and give even more radical concepts a chance. The hardest part of this read, though, was probably the format. At times it is extremely dense and intellectual, at other times dense and poetic, and stilll others extremely casual and consisting of questions asked without answers being given. Part of this effect is just that it’s transcriptions of in-person conversations, and part of it is that the three authors have very different styles used in their essay sections. Personally I found I had to just “power through” some sections and absorb what I could without clinging to understanding everything. Other sections I processed with care, trying to understand each paragraph and getting a lot out of the nuances. So it’s a great book, an invaluable and unique offering from the authors who should definitely be celebrated. Thanks to them and to the publishers for making this available. P.s. I’ve since noticed several excellent essays by Lama Rod Owens, one of the authors, on different websites. I highly recommend these essays, which have similar content to the book, but presented in a more straightforward and digestible format. These essays are great as a way to share this message with a wider audience (I.e. your sangha).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janet Nash

    This book was breathtaking and challenging. I struggle as someone who identifies as Buddhist because I also feel I need to be active and stand up for social justice issues. I've loved and respected Elie Wiesel and his books, especially "Night." In his life, post-Holocaust, he said that we have to take sides, and that it was those who turned a blind eye to the horrors of World War II that contributed to sustaining it for so long. In today's world, I feel that same need to stand up when politician This book was breathtaking and challenging. I struggle as someone who identifies as Buddhist because I also feel I need to be active and stand up for social justice issues. I've loved and respected Elie Wiesel and his books, especially "Night." In his life, post-Holocaust, he said that we have to take sides, and that it was those who turned a blind eye to the horrors of World War II that contributed to sustaining it for so long. In today's world, I feel that same need to stand up when politicians, in particular, but also anyone, spreads divisiveness. For me, the divisiveness that we are experiencing is the opposite of what our country stands for. In American Buddhism, the population is mostly white, well-educated people who take a passive stance and focus more of their attention to their internal process. Consequently, they don't engage too much in the outside world and, therefore, don't stand up against injustice and hatred in an outward way. I know this is a sweeping generalization, and I also know there are some who do, but overall, not enough. This book helped me to see that Buddhism in America is changing for the better with leaders like Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah, each who identify as Black, gay, and Buddhist. They talk about the challenges of being each of these things in America and in the Buddhist community. As a white person, this was a very demanding read, but necessary if you want to begin to understand and embrace our shared humanity. My new favorite book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Taylor

    I thought this book gave some really valuable insights into how queer and female people of color experience buddhism. I really enjoyed the emphasis on being ok with discomfort and the messiness of tackling issues of racism. Two things bothered me about this book. One was how jargony so much of it was. It was full of activist jargon, to the extent that it was hard to understand what they were actually talking about. That's my personal issue, and one you may not care about. The other issue I had is I thought this book gave some really valuable insights into how queer and female people of color experience buddhism. I really enjoyed the emphasis on being ok with discomfort and the messiness of tackling issues of racism. Two things bothered me about this book. One was how jargony so much of it was. It was full of activist jargon, to the extent that it was hard to understand what they were actually talking about. That's my personal issue, and one you may not care about. The other issue I had is more serious. There was almost no mention of Asian-American Buddhist practitioners, and the authors description of radical dharma seemed largely disconnected from the Buddhist traditions. It wasn't clear to me what "radical dharma" was meant to be, how it was different from the plain old dharma, and why they think that the present moment needs something different from a tradition that has existed for thousands of years. Which isn't to argue against reinterpreting the dharma for today or from an African-American and/or queer perspective, but this call for something new and different without really connecting to the existing traditions didn't sit well with me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Veena Gokhale

    I have been a practising Buddhist for about 2 decades now and my belief in social justice is as strong as my "relief" in Buddhism! This is a great book that marries the two, a much needed, timely, courageous collaboration between three, black, queer, American Buddhists and trailblazers. I agree with some of the critiques that it has parts that are too academic, jargony and unclear. It could have been better put together and better edited. That said, I see it as the first effort by these authors, I have been a practising Buddhist for about 2 decades now and my belief in social justice is as strong as my "relief" in Buddhism! This is a great book that marries the two, a much needed, timely, courageous collaboration between three, black, queer, American Buddhists and trailblazers. I agree with some of the critiques that it has parts that are too academic, jargony and unclear. It could have been better put together and better edited. That said, I see it as the first effort by these authors, and it's essential reading, I think, if you are interested in the topic. It's good to watch some youtube videos by the authors as well. I was challenged and inspired, as I am by the dharma as well!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    Rated 5 stars for content, not quality of writing. Three black, queer Buddhist teachers specifically target US Buddhists in creating a society that seeks liberation for oppressed people in the US. The authors are not afraid of a messy conversation. Some of my favorite passages from the book: "The politics of respectability and the hidden rules of politeness that silently govern white belonging to "polite Society" demand that love remain personal. The further the love is from some norm, the more beh Rated 5 stars for content, not quality of writing. Three black, queer Buddhist teachers specifically target US Buddhists in creating a society that seeks liberation for oppressed people in the US. The authors are not afraid of a messy conversation. Some of my favorite passages from the book: "The politics of respectability and the hidden rules of politeness that silently govern white belonging to "polite Society" demand that love remain personal. The further the love is from some norm, the more behind closed doors, in the closet, relegated to corners of guilt, laden with shame it must be. The result of having "privatized" love is we are not comfortable with its raw, unabashed, unapologetic, unmitigated expression. Love for one another, especially across lines of difference, has been taboo for the overwhelming part of our national lives. - page 104 From Rev. Angel: meditation is not the primary practice for most Buddhists in the world. The thick number of people who practice meditation would be here in the States and in the UK. I think it's not an accident that white convert sanghas are putting such strong emphasis on non-relational ways of developing their sanghas.... We can use anything, even a practice of liberation, to further our neuroses. What walking the Buddha's path calls us to do is to shine the light on the path of neuroses and to do exactly the opposite. We don't have t know what the outcome is; we just have to know we have a neurosis around hyper-individualism in this society and disconnection and distraction and we are increasingly out of relationship with each other, no matter how many Facebook friends we have. - page 164

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scott F

    I was excited to read this book, but ultimately I found it disappointing unfortunately. As a person of colour that practices Zen I was intrigued by it, I think I had been expecting this to be a book about engaged buddhist practice, on how the Bodhisattva path could be used to view the issues of race and intolerance in society but this is not that kind of book. Instead it seemed to be a book in which the authors appeared to be unhappy with their (presumably white) sanghas not understanding their I was excited to read this book, but ultimately I found it disappointing unfortunately. As a person of colour that practices Zen I was intrigued by it, I think I had been expecting this to be a book about engaged buddhist practice, on how the Bodhisattva path could be used to view the issues of race and intolerance in society but this is not that kind of book. Instead it seemed to be a book in which the authors appeared to be unhappy with their (presumably white) sanghas not understanding their particular needs and issues regarding their racial and sexual identities. But I was left with the question "But why though?". I was under the impression that when we sit zazen we set aside the identities that we use to label ourselves. On the Zafu nothing is affirmed or negated, there is no "black", no "white", no "gay", no "straight", and so on, it's just zazen sitting zazen. What particular needs can you have in your sitting that relate to your blackness or to whoever you like to go to bed with? I found this to book to boil down to a case of it being me, me, me, as in "My needs aren't being met and you don't understand me", which surely is the antithesis of Zen and the role of self? But the thing is though, that after finishing the book I still didn't even know what these particular needs were meant to be and why the authors thought that they might be so important. For a better more illuming read about Buddhism and race try America's Racial Karma by Dr. Larry Ward.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob Smith

    I didn't finish this book. It's pretty disjointed. Seems all over the place. My main problem is the book never seems to... start? A lot of the chapters come off as an introduction to someone else. And then by the time we get to the conversations about race, love, and liberation you don't care anymore. The parts of the authors dealing with racism, their upbringing, poverty and broken homes, finding Buddhism is great. But it then gets repetitive. It seems the same similar things are said in every ch I didn't finish this book. It's pretty disjointed. Seems all over the place. My main problem is the book never seems to... start? A lot of the chapters come off as an introduction to someone else. And then by the time we get to the conversations about race, love, and liberation you don't care anymore. The parts of the authors dealing with racism, their upbringing, poverty and broken homes, finding Buddhism is great. But it then gets repetitive. It seems the same similar things are said in every chapter, and it never goes in depth. I got 150 pages in, and I'm still not sure what radical dharma is. The main meat of the book seems to be these conversations the authors had with people across the country. But it takes 100 pages to get there, and you know if this is just the transcript, this just isn't enough for a book. Someone else on another review pointed out, this book has little bearing or relationship to Buddhist traditions, especially concerning Asian-American Buddhist experiences. It's a big omission, and I think one that hinders the book. How is 'radical dharma' different than mainstream Buddhism's dharma? What is radical about this book?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    This is a collection of voices - essays, interviews, etc etc - rather than a linear book, and I think that creates a richness and a life to it, even though it may have been an easier read if it had been constructed differently. particularly loved Lama Rod Owens contributions

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hartman

    I'm an anarchist and I am into Buddhist philosophy and practice. Often these two do not mix. This book gives me hope that I'm not too much of a weirdo I'm an anarchist and I am into Buddhist philosophy and practice. Often these two do not mix. This book gives me hope that I'm not too much of a weirdo

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kazemi Adachi

    I would recommend this book for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Each of the authors translate the dharma into radical black, feminist, and queer lineages. They use the academic verbiage of critical social theory that piques my elite academic interests while basing their dharma in lived experience through wit, wisdom, and humility.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Monica L Edwards

    I struggled at times with the writing—three authors and three different voices, plus formal writing shifts to conversation transcripts. But, I love how this book made me think, and feel challenged.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    One of the best spiritual books I have ever read. I wish I read it sooner. The connections between race, liberation, and dharma are powerful, compelling, and thoughtful. I highlighted so much in the book and will be going back to review and connect my own personal dots.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book is phenomenal. So many concepts and thoughts to sit with. Definitely a book I will be reading again. It Is Not Love After All is a great reflection for BIPOC activists feeling burnout or frustration.

  17. 5 out of 5

    MJ

    Very, very good. I especially appreciated the portions on the prison system. I found the conversations portion to be the weakest.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Disappointing. I had read another book of Rev. angel Kyodo williams and jumped at the chance to read this one. While not Buddhist I was intrigued by the topics of the book supposedly addressing racial injustice, white supremacy, etc. in Buddhist communities and wondered what I could take away from that.   And initially it was fascinating. The purpose of the book, the need to address these issues both within and without Buddhisim, what some of the terminology meant, etc. It sounded like it would be Disappointing. I had read another book of Rev. angel Kyodo williams and jumped at the chance to read this one. While not Buddhist I was intrigued by the topics of the book supposedly addressing racial injustice, white supremacy, etc. in Buddhist communities and wondered what I could take away from that.   And initially it was fascinating. The purpose of the book, the need to address these issues both within and without Buddhisim, what some of the terminology meant, etc. It sounded like it would be an interesting read.   Unfortunately it goes downhill after the introduction or so. The book reads very much like a conversation between the three authors. And while that is a format that can work, I can understand why people felt disappointed. It seemed like a conversation that was very much for them and their community. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but the text does seem jargon-y and "isolated" for reasons mentioned above. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be getting from the book or their conversation.   It was interesting to read the perspectives of these practitioners and I felt I could somewhat get some of the points they were discussing. But ultimately the text was unapproachable for me. I don't know if someone who is an actual Buddhist might get more out of it but based on other reviews that might be a bit of a toss-up.    I regret buying it but this wasn't readily available at my local library. I'm not sure I'd recommend this. You may have to read through a few chapters (as williams says, you can read this pieces) to see if it's something that is for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zaynab

    An enthralling read from start to finish. A long overdue book on so many levels. The three authors bring the black prophetic fire into conversation with their practices as black Buddhists and Buddhist communities. They demonstrate how black religiosity is inherently interspiritual, organically multi-religious, rarely does it exist in the vacuum that western conceptions of monotheism/polytheism/deism attempt to stratify non-western religions. They bring their church upbringings, their mosque upbr An enthralling read from start to finish. A long overdue book on so many levels. The three authors bring the black prophetic fire into conversation with their practices as black Buddhists and Buddhist communities. They demonstrate how black religiosity is inherently interspiritual, organically multi-religious, rarely does it exist in the vacuum that western conceptions of monotheism/polytheism/deism attempt to stratify non-western religions. They bring their church upbringings, their mosque upbringings, the need for dharma to be about fellowship in the way that black religious communities understand it. They locate liberation, radical dharma, in this dharma that tackles white supremacy head on, and makes the space for identity without washing it away under the notion of "identity politics" being the problem. There's so much here I think people will find valuable, interesting, touching, and difficult to grasp all the same. But it's worth the journey, totally worth the journey (my only hiccup was the identification of one person who calls themselves two-spirit and also of European-American descent. i know people who aren't indigenous feel as though they can't say "oh you can't be two spirit because you're not indigenous" but it was a perfect teaching moment in a rehashed dialogue about the dangers and harms of white supremacy.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This book is three voices of black Buddhists, one male, all gay. The two women are from the Zen tradition and the guy is from a Tibetan tradition, where he did the 3 year retreat. There are essays and panel discussions. The question seems to be how to make someone like them feel comfortable to join a sangha, and what their experiences are of discomfort. Rev. angel doesn't like to be called articulate because why would that be a surprise? Are you saying that black people are not usually articulat This book is three voices of black Buddhists, one male, all gay. The two women are from the Zen tradition and the guy is from a Tibetan tradition, where he did the 3 year retreat. There are essays and panel discussions. The question seems to be how to make someone like them feel comfortable to join a sangha, and what their experiences are of discomfort. Rev. angel doesn't like to be called articulate because why would that be a surprise? Are you saying that black people are not usually articulate? I am glad to hear about people's experience, people talking about race and feelings of oppression. I quite liked this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lily Jamaludin

    What a needed book! The authors do such thought-provoking, beautiful, and yes, radical work in envisioning a new America. I think it equips activists with a new spiritual language to energise your anti-oppression and liberation work. I particularly enjoyed the chapters where the authors provided their own testimonies of transforming their own racial/sexual/gender wounds. There was a wonderful moment in one of the chapters where a white man who is a self-proclaimed former racist describes how his What a needed book! The authors do such thought-provoking, beautiful, and yes, radical work in envisioning a new America. I think it equips activists with a new spiritual language to energise your anti-oppression and liberation work. I particularly enjoyed the chapters where the authors provided their own testimonies of transforming their own racial/sexual/gender wounds. There was a wonderful moment in one of the chapters where a white man who is a self-proclaimed former racist describes how his white sangha hold sessions to address their white privilege/responsibility. I wish that side of the transformation work was expanded on more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    When I listened to Rev. angel's interview on Buddhist Geeks I knew I needed to read this book. I was not disappointed. I was surprised though - I had this preconceived notion that this book was going to have "kumbaya" vibes. I was stripped of those notions almost immediately. This book is about Love - not Hallmark(tm) love, but fierce, genuine love. I am definitely going to be getting a copy for myself. When I listened to Rev. angel's interview on Buddhist Geeks I knew I needed to read this book. I was not disappointed. I was surprised though - I had this preconceived notion that this book was going to have "kumbaya" vibes. I was stripped of those notions almost immediately. This book is about Love - not Hallmark(tm) love, but fierce, genuine love. I am definitely going to be getting a copy for myself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emmish

    -what you don't deal w urself you project onto others/shut down in others bc to see it triggers u -to be a healing teacher, commune with the inner > dep on external validation -heal yourself -> heal others -christianity cuts off the carnal, desire, makes it bad, shameful (rotten closets reek), baldwin whiteness- cut off from sensuality -radical queer openness- embrace accept face difference with LOVE -get used to being uncomfortable as growth as liberation -what you don't deal w urself you project onto others/shut down in others bc to see it triggers u -to be a healing teacher, commune with the inner > dep on external validation -heal yourself -> heal others -christianity cuts off the carnal, desire, makes it bad, shameful (rotten closets reek), baldwin whiteness- cut off from sensuality -radical queer openness- embrace accept face difference with LOVE -get used to being uncomfortable as growth as liberation

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melina Bondy

    So needed, so loving, so true.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kazza

    This book was amazing. Inspiring and informative. Read it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    William Lawrence

    “One abiding theory that emerges from the practice of a radical dharma that presents itself is that you should know this, attend to that, be aware of these things, but you must do them for your liberation, not mine.” “To inhabit radical as an ideal is to commit to going beyond one’s familiar or even chosen terrain. It avails you to what you weren’t willing to see, which is the place Truth resides.” “Our inability as a nation to honor the theft of these lands and the building of wealth, power, and “One abiding theory that emerges from the practice of a radical dharma that presents itself is that you should know this, attend to that, be aware of these things, but you must do them for your liberation, not mine.” “To inhabit radical as an ideal is to commit to going beyond one’s familiar or even chosen terrain. It avails you to what you weren’t willing to see, which is the place Truth resides.” “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.” “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.” “The tiptoeing around the race and other forms of difference as if in fear of waking a sleeping lion is one of the most subtly toxic attributes of whiteness in our culture right now” “The cultural value in the society has been if you don’t know how to work with something, suppress it. Not only suppress it in yourself, suppress it in others, because if you don’t suppress it in others, then it reminds you that you’re suppressing it in yourself.” “Understanding that part of our capacity to make change outside in a way that’s actually generative comes from having done work inside so we can actually have empowerment that doesn’t have to do with external conditions.” “When I hear folks’ distrust of healing, especially in marginalized and traumatized communities, I hear the subtle and nuanced workings of internalized oppression that distract us from imagining liberation that is not about struggling against systems and regimes but about transcending the trauma of struggling and residing in the nature of who we are as people who can be psychically free though physically bound. For when I define healing as freedom, I mean to interrogate how I am slave to my own self-depreciation fueled by internalized oppression.” “Identity is wounding only because we survive in places were different remains invisible instead of being seen and celebrated.” “Healing means we are holding the space for our woundedness and allowing it to open our hearts to the reality that we are not the only people who are hurt, lonely, angry, or frustrated. We must also release the habitual aggression that characterizes out avoidance of trauma or any discomfort. My goal is to befriend my pain, to relate to it intimately as a means to end the suffering of desperately trying to avoid it.” “We are all caught in this crazy web of dysfunction and disconnect as a result of where we sit along the spectrum of color and other forms of marginalization . It’s an important entryway into the potential for healing when we start to recognize we are all participating unless we’re interrupting. The momentum of the dysfunction of our privilege operates in this society is such that if we’re not interrupting, we’re actually participating in it.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Spadafora

    This is a powerful and moving collection of stories and reflections on individual experiences with racism and with attempting to form anti-racist spaces within Buddhist sanghas and community spaces. It was not exactly what I expected (not exactly a comprehensive narrative of how to enact Buddhist to personal and communal practice in ways connected to social justice/how Buddhist scripture supports and connects to anti racist ideas/ie a guidebook on Buddhism that connects to contemporary issues go This is a powerful and moving collection of stories and reflections on individual experiences with racism and with attempting to form anti-racist spaces within Buddhist sanghas and community spaces. It was not exactly what I expected (not exactly a comprehensive narrative of how to enact Buddhist to personal and communal practice in ways connected to social justice/how Buddhist scripture supports and connects to anti racist ideas/ie a guidebook on Buddhism that connects to contemporary issues going through each step of the eightfold path and Noble truths in an organized fashion) but was more of a collection of personal anecdotes, community discussion transcripts, and reflections relating what it's like to live as a Black individual under systems of white supremacy and other oppressive situations as well as to try to be bring 'blackness' to white Buddhist spaces that feel exclusionary or like assimilation or token representation is required. I almost put the book down in the beginning because the organizational structure didn't have a grounded introduction-to lead in with reflections on racism, Buddhism, and white supremacy without defining Buddhist terms or providing evidentiary support/illustration of concrete issues in the text felt like uncontextualized fluff /like jumping to the conclusion before stating a detailed case-but I am so grateful I stayed on to the end, as the authors do a better deal of making connections and of truly providing moving accounts of their experiences, a poignant dialogue between community members attempting to connect with each other and have difficult conversations over the divide, and to truly present a transformative vision of an inclusive Buddhism, with sanghas where Black individuals can bring new perspective and African heritage based traditions to the practice and with all sanghas being more self aware how ignoring community identity in the name of no self neglects the ultimate duty to address suffering and to ensure our practices don't contribute to it. Hard to not give it a 5, but the organization and a few places of editing were just too noticable--I'd say like a 4.5, maybe 4.8 given the solid ending.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sahel

    I am not very well-read in Buddhism or Black prophetic tradition. However, I enjoyed the book and learned from it. I specifically liked the fact that the three authors had added a glossary at the end. It’s so heartwarming to see how the authors care about their readers’ comprehension and do not want them to get lost throughout the journey. I want to lift two points among all the wisdom shared in this book. One is that like Claudia Rankine, the authors in this book have attempted to share the mess I am not very well-read in Buddhism or Black prophetic tradition. However, I enjoyed the book and learned from it. I specifically liked the fact that the three authors had added a glossary at the end. It’s so heartwarming to see how the authors care about their readers’ comprehension and do not want them to get lost throughout the journey. I want to lift two points among all the wisdom shared in this book. One is that like Claudia Rankine, the authors in this book have attempted to share the message that in order to face and challenge racism and oppression we must look into ourselves and begin from us. My second point is that binary oppositions of emotion/logic have created a messy tangle that requires a great deal of activism and care work to abolish. Systems of oppression have downgraded emotions such as love to the point that loving one another (or speaking of emotions in a so-called formal event) reads like a weakness in people. Moreover, it does not allow people to actively listen to and empathize with each other. The book has a profound definition and deconstruction of love. They mention, “The politics of respectability and the hidden rules of politeness that silently govern white belonging to "polite Society" demand that love remain personal. The further the love is from some norm, the more behind closed doors, in the closet, relegated to corners of guilt, laden with shame it must be. The result of having "privatized" love is we are not comfortable with its raw, unabashed, unapologetic, unmitigated expression. Love for one another, especially across lines of difference, has been taboo for the overwhelming part of our national lives” (115). I have a questions that may be an ignorant one. The book might have mentioned it and I might have missed, but I’m not sure if I clearly understand the difference between “radical dharma” and Buddhism dharma. Is the word “radical” pointing to the abolitionist perspectives of this work?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Byram

    I've found myself drawn to Buddhist principles for a long time, though have hesitated to call myself a subscriber or practitioner of Buddhism for a variety of reasons, not the least of which has to do with the issue of American Buddhism and how I have perceived it to be subsumed by problems of race and inclusion of other minority opinions. Stated differently, there is a perception I have of Buddhism in America being largely white and largely self-centered on healing as a White person using a dis I've found myself drawn to Buddhist principles for a long time, though have hesitated to call myself a subscriber or practitioner of Buddhism for a variety of reasons, not the least of which has to do with the issue of American Buddhism and how I have perceived it to be subsumed by problems of race and inclusion of other minority opinions. Stated differently, there is a perception I have of Buddhism in America being largely white and largely self-centered on healing as a White person using a distinctly Eastern Philosophical tradition, like it was being appropriated without allowing for this message to invite other opinions and cultures into its fold. I also struggled with the idea about whether Buddhism could be used for proactivity rather than reflection, and how Buddhism could be used as a rallying call for change rather than just a way of becoming comfortable and centered within a chaotic world. While I don't know that this book was able to address all of these concerns I had, and while some sections especially early on before the conversations felt a little too esoteric, overall I really enjoyed that this book could instruct on how Buddhism can be a force for proactive change in parallel with personal discovery, and how the subjects of the book who represent minority perspectives of blackness, of femaleness, of queerness, can interpret and communicate Buddhist principles, showing that its extent in the American practice of Buddhism can transcend the stereotypes. It's gotten me closer to a comfort level with the practice, and all of the teachers/instructors in this book are a real inspiration and have excellent perspectives that I think people of all stripes could benefit from reading. It's a book that I imagine I will come back to a few times over the years to see if I can internalize their interpretations differently as I find my own way in this tradition

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brad McKenna

    This was a just the book I was looking for: a Buddhist prospective on racism. I'm just going to give you a list of highlights because if you're wavering, they should convince you to read it but if you've not desire to read it (but have come to this review) it'll at least get you thinking. “I think we get distracted with trying to end white supremacy and oppression and racism, but there’s still this work of healing that needs to be done for everyone and we need to bring more attention to that piec This was a just the book I was looking for: a Buddhist prospective on racism. I'm just going to give you a list of highlights because if you're wavering, they should convince you to read it but if you've not desire to read it (but have come to this review) it'll at least get you thinking. “I think we get distracted with trying to end white supremacy and oppression and racism, but there’s still this work of healing that needs to be done for everyone and we need to bring more attention to that piece.” ~Lama Rod (52) “James Baldwin was always advocating love and transformation. Those voices have somehow been lost.” ~Lama Rod (54) I love Rev angel’s Warrior’s Prayer because I don't think the words "non-violent" and "warrior" are contradictory. May all beings be granted with strength, determination, and wisdom to extinguish anger and reject violence as a way. May all suffering cease and may I seek, find, and fully realize the love and compassion that already lives within me and allow them to inspire and permeate my every action May I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that which makes me uniquely human and is the only true path to liberation May I swiftly reach complete, effortless freedom so that my fearless unhindered action be a benefit to all. May I lead the life of a warrior. (93-4) Rev angel says that whites must be allowed to acknowledge their suffering regarding race. (158) This is such a slippery topic. Focus too much and you lose the support of the blacks,focus too little and you lose the support of the whites. Rev angel posits that the whites that brought the dharma to The West place too much emphasis on individual meditation and not enough on community building and dharma in action with a Sangha. (164)

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