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Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation Paperback – June 14, 2016
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“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 laughing.
This 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 didn’t) or even feel like you fully understand it all (again, I didn’t) but that makes it even more important to read.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“Radical 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 Care: Pioneering 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 Network
About the Author
Rev. angel Kyodo williams is an author, activist, master trainer, and founder of the Center for Transformative Change. Her critically acclaimed first book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, was hailed as "an act of love" by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and "a classic" by Buddhist pioneer Jack Kornfield. Ordained as a Zen priest, she is one of the only two black women Zen "Senseis" or teachers. Her work has been widely covered, including in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Ms., and Essence. Lama Rod Owens is a graduate of Berry College, where he majored in English and speech communication. It was there that he began his work as a student activist and organizer. In 2011, he was authorized as a lama in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. He then moved to DC and ran his own center for over two years. Later, he returned to Boston to begin his divinity degree in Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School. Jasmine Syedullah holds a PhD in politics with a designated emphasis in feminist studies and history of consciousness from University of California, Santa Cruz, and a BA from Brown University in religious studies with a focus in Buddhist philosophy. Syedullah is currently a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow and lectures on her work at colleges and universities throughout the country.
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Top customer reviews
I think this is a fairly positive book. It sees hope in the future of America even with the healing that the USA still needs to do with it's people.
I had a bit of a hard time relating sometimes because I'm not as peaceable as the folks in this book. I feel the book would suggest self reflection on that. I struggled also with some of the spiritual components of this book. I don't consider myself to be a spiritual person and I'm an atheist. So, I was just along for the ride on some parts of the book.
I like the focus on community and the focus on discussion and on self reflection and self care. But I felt that there was more of a need for direction for this book.
"The tiptoeing around 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." -Jasmine Syedullah
"Love is the wish for myself and others to be happy. Love transcends our need to control the recipient of love. I love not because I need something in return. I love not because I want to be loved back, but because I see and understand love as being an expression of the spaciousness I experience when I am challenging my egoic fixation by thinking about the welfare of others. I go where I am loved. I go where I am allowed to express love. In loving, I have no expectations."-Lama Rod Owens
"Predatory capitalist greed has deeply ingrained a self-worth confusion into our psyche We associate our value as human beings with our financial worth. Our relationships are governed by the shadow game of acquisition. We can never have enough. The result is a devastating disconnect to a felt sense of our experience." -Rev. angel Kyodo williams
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I think that Rev. angel Kyodo Williams sensei both nails the problem on the head and highlights the conflicting viewpoints that run throughout the book when she states: "Race is the ultimate delusion in that it both does and does not exist in reality."With respect to sanghas the conversants note that problems arise when the sangha is not willing to turn into itself and explore what it means to be in a racialized society. Another one of the author's, Lama Rod, describes radical Dharma, within this context as having the bravery to have dharma talks and meditation practices that will focus on topics that make participants feel uncomfortable and learn how to deal with their suffering.
One of the criticism's of Lama Rod's, with which I agree, is that many sangha's have become severely compromised by capitalism and need to provide a consumer oriented Buddhism. The result is too heavy a focus on selling classes and not offending sangha members which dilutes the authenticity of Buddhist practice. On the other hand, you need money to run a sangha, so where is the balance?
My criticism of the viewpoints and discussions as that it is at times it is devalued by the overuse of racial and sexual labels. An example is the comment: "for white folks, though the coexistence of being historically lauded as the creators of what is right, making mistakes must be hard." I wanted to ask which "white folks?" There are immigrant white folks and holocaust survivor white folks and down and out white folks, should they be lumped into the white folks of the quote above and does the author seriously think that all white folks see themselves and their relation to race in the same way? The authors turn to greater complexity at times when they talk about racism and economics as co-repressive self-feeding factors. However, the essays and discussions veer between the "race as monolith" and "race as factorial" viewpoints. Overall, this book is of great value both in understanding applied Buddhism and the need to openly discuss racial issues within the sangha. I highly recommend this book.
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Respectfully, James, I feel you may have missed the point of the book.Read more