Two statements—the first from the MRO People of Color Affinity Group, and second from Shugen Roshi and the white members of the BFoD Planning Group—were posted here in response to the surge in violence against men and women of color, and the persistence of unjust, white supremacist systems of oppression which remains invisible to the majority of Americans.
As a sangha we are unified in our vows to serve, to alleviate suffering and the causes of suffering, and to respond with compassion and wisdom as challenges and conflict arise. We affirm our responsibility as individuals and as a community to support each other’s vows.
Words from the POC statement ask us: “How do we practice now? Do we have the courage to change what we do? How we live? What we are willing to accept? Every day, we hear these words in the zendo: Buddha-nature pervades the whole universe, existing right here and now. The Buddha-nature of black people is being systemically denied. This must change. In our daily lives we need to call upon and activate our Buddha-nature to respond.”
In speaking to the history of racial violence and oppression in America, the white BFOD statement says it very plain: “We need to re-humanize ourselves as white people in order to create a just and loving world. Black lives and our humanity as white people is at stake. This means we must focus on and commit to specific actions to examine and free ourselves from our racialized whiteness – our anti-blackness.”
In addition to these statements are resources for taking action, on-line retreats, and podcast talks from the MRO to manifest and support our capacity to love and serve, to witness and hold differing views and experiences, to tolerate the discomfort of not knowing, and to take wise actions, all in the service of the compassionate work to be done.
Along with the on-going Black and POC affinity group, the What is Whiteness (WIW) affinity groups have been invested in seeing into our racist conditioning as basic to dharma practice. In coming weeks the WIW group will be opening to sangha-wide participation, and the WIW and BIPOC group resources can be found on this page, Beyond Fear of Differences.
May we all transform systemic violence and hatred with deep courage, compassion and healing.