The Beyond Fear of Differences (BFoD) Planning Group held a public forum at the Monastery on Sunday, March 3, 2019—a moment 10 years in the making. It was a chance to welcome the whole Sangha into the development of the BFoD mission and vision process, to share the details about the process that the committee had been involved in, and to let people know how they can get involved. A similar forum was held one week later at the Zen Center of NYC.
On Saturday, January 5th, ZCNYC held its first retreat just for people of color: Healing the Wounds of Racism with Valerie Brown and Marisela Gomez. This program was the result of changes in the Programming Committee that brought people of color from the Beyond Fear of Differences Planning Group into the decision-making process around programming. With their help promoting this program—even with a cold rainy day—turnout was excellent, indicating a clear need for these programs going forward.
You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.
Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?…Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.
—Toni Cade Bambara, “The Salt Eaters”
When people ask me how I’m doing, I feel a little confused and pause for a moment. In my mind I want to talk about this deep sense of heaviness and despair that feels like mourning with and for the world. I want to say that a part of me doesn’t feel good enough, that this was a feeling I was born into, trained in, and encouraged to accept–that I do not remember experience before this.
Christians talk about love a lot. It’s one of our favorite words, especially when the topic is race.
If we could just learn to love one another …
Love trumps hate . . .
Love someone different from you today . . .
But I have found this love to be largely inconsequential. More often than not, my experience has been that whiteness sees love as a prize it is owed, rather than a moral obligation it must demonstrate. Love, for whiteness, dissolves into a demand for grace, for niceness, for endless patience—to keep everyone feeling comfortable while hearts are being changed. In this way, so-called love dodges any responsibility for action and waits for the great catalytic moment that finally spurs accountability.
When people squint at my name on something in front of them and then ask where I’m from, I tell them “Columbus, Ohio.” When they look again and then, perhaps more urgently, ask where my parents are from, I tell them “New York,” smiling more slightly. Occasionally, I’ll get a person who asks where their parents were from, and I humor that as well. No one has ever gone beyond two generations before me, but I look forward to the day where it all plays out: me in line at the bank, or at a deli, someone attempting to trace my lineage to a place they feel makes sense. Me, eventually saying, “Well, I’d imagine Africa came into play at some point, but now I’m here, so who can say really?”
Last month, Zen Mountain Monastery hosted the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s biennial conference for three full days of practice, discussion and exploration. Over 70 ordained priests and transmitted teachers joined the conference, representing dozens of training centers and sitting groups throughout North America. The gathering was last held at ZMM in 2006.
(A ZMM Podcast interview with SZBA President Tenku Ruff, Osho, can be found HERE.)
Én:skat tékeni, áhsen. Bend and pull, bend and pull. Kaié:ri, wisk, iá:ia’k, tsiá:ta, she calls to her granddaughter, standing waist deep in the grass. Her bundle grows thicker with every stoop of her back. She straightens up, rubs the small of her back, and tilts her head up to the blue summer sky, her black braid swinging in the arch of her back. Bank swallows twitter over the river. The breeze off the water sets the grasses waving and carries the fragrance of sweetgrass that rises from her footsteps.