The murder of George Floyd strikes the hearts and minds of so many with feelings of outrage, sadness, and grief, all the more that it was undeniably so overt, as if such actions were somehow acceptable. This incident, like the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, and too many others, brings into sharp relief the continuing tragic reality of racism. The historical legacy of enslavement of Africans and others in our country has not ceased to be a wound for all of us.
The Buddha taught that all actions originate in our hearts and minds. When our minds are conditioned by ignorance or delusion (not seeing clearly), we can look upon life through views that may be unwholesome, harmful, even cruel, and then act in accord with those views.
Racism, whether individual or institutional/systemic, is rooted in ignorance, greed, and ill will. It is also based in the idea that we can act in ways that diminish or harm others without bearing the consequences of those actions ourselves. This also is delusion.
It is our responsibility, as practitioners of Buddhism, to examine the ways in which we may have caused harm due to the delusions of racism in all its forms, including white privilege and white supremacy, which are endemic to our culture, whether that harm was conscious, unconscious, or structural; to investigate the causes and conditions for that harm; and to resolve to refrain from causing such harm in the future.
For white people in our practice community, there is a responsibility to educate ourselves about the historic and current expressions of racism and oppression so that we no longer knowingly or unknowingly participate in them and instead can be a positive force for the good. We are called upon to see and come close to the magnitude of the suffering before us, and not turn away once again as if these devastating events are singular occurrences. We as SMD teachers suggest the following resources for reaching greater understanding:
10% Happier podcast episode #252, “You Can’t Meditate This Away: Race, Rage, and the Responsibilities of Meditators”
On Being podcast interview with Resmaa Menakem, “Notice the Rage, Notice the Silence.”
Tara Brach, Facing My White Privilege
We acknowledge that Buddhism in the US has historically been dominated by white people, and that white teachers (including us) have been limited by their conditioning in responding to the particular forms of suffering experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Because of these historical and current dynamics, we have decided to:
- When offering scholarships for retreats, to give priority to BIPOC.
- We commit to continuing to invite and to increase our invitations to BIPOC dharma teachers to lead retreats for Show Me Dharma.
- When we do hold retreats with BIPOC dharma teachers, we will offer special times during which BIPOC participants can meet with those teachers as a group or privately, depending on the preferences of teachers and students.
As a sangha, we have work to do to make our space truly accessible and welcoming to BIPOC; without that work, this statement would lack sincerity. We ask our sangha to hold us accountable in this work and share ideas with us about how to wisely respond to racism and racist violence.
We also ask you to notice how this statement lands with you, to notice the reactions and thoughts that arise, recognizing that those are not “your” reactions and thoughts alone, but that they are influenced by our culture. We ask you to have compassion for yourself in attending to those thoughts and reactions.
As practitioners of Buddhism, we are committed to cultivating beneficial qualities of mind such as generosity, morality, goodwill, wisdom, and equanimity and abandoning unwholesome ones including overt and covert racism. May we have the determination and energy to bring these intentions to fruition in our own lives and for the benefit of all beings. We hope you will join us in this.
Show Me Dharma Teachers:
Show Me Dharma Board: