top nav spacer
You Are Here: Home » Articles posted by Kenji Liu

Hunting Confucian Cowboys (Part II)

View Part I of "Hunting Confucian Cowboys" here. II. Recall your parents' teachings; every day burn fragrance to venerate your ancestors. Foreign lands will become home, and it will be different. What parents teach will not always be meaningful, relevant to the new. Heaven and earth will switch places. My mother comes to me with a task. Here is a business letter your father is trying to write. Your English ...

Read more

Hunting Confucian Cowboys (Part I)

While visiting my childhood New Jersey home in my late twenties, I ask about a Chinese scroll hanging on the wall. It has been there as long as I can remember but reading it is not an option for me. It is a qilu poem written over seven centuries ago by an ancestor, Gong Guang-Chuan, and passed down. My father translates Gong’s “advice to the Liu family”: Stay on course crossing borders. Uphold ethics where ...

Read more

The Heterosexuality of Silent Retreat

I once rather directly asked one of my Theravada meditation teachers why men and women had to be separated for the duration of our silent laypersons' retreat. Instinctively I understood the heterosexual nature of the practice before asking, but I wanted to hear the explanation. The response was of course that if men and women mixed during the course of a retreat—where the goal was to practice and appreciate ...

Read more

Mindfulness of Gender Rising, Rising

Aside from my father, one of my early male role models was a high school art teacher. As a very artistically oriented child, I had some difficulty relating to the interests of my mostly-left-brained father. So the art and music departments of my high school became my favorite places, where I was accepted and strongly supported as an artist. Mr. Mich, an abbreviation for a longer Eastern European family name ...

Read more

Being Well-Adjusted is Not the Goal

Unexpected things happen in your brain when you’re on an extended silent meditation retreat. For example, sometimes I see issues about sexuality and body image rise in my mind. I’ve realized over time that what mindfulness helps with is practicing a new approach to the self, one that doesn’t surveil for conformity to dominant norms. In other posts I’ve called mindfulness a decolonization practice. Michel Fo ...

Read more

Anti-Patriarchal Politics and Discernment: Discipline as Freedom

Duke Ching of Chi asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, “Let the ruler be a ruler, minister be a minister, father be a father, son be a son.” The Duke said, “Excellent! Indeed, if the ruler is not a ruler, the ministers not ministers, fathers not fathers and sons not sons, even if I have food, how can I eat it?” —Confucius, Analects (Book 12, Chapter 11), 500 BCE Many Buddhists come from Conf ...

Read more

The Influence of Orientalism on US Buddhism

“The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void.” —Gary Snyder, 1961 In contemplating Gary Snyder’s essay “Buddhist Anarchism” for my previous post on Turning Wheel Media, I came across the above phrase, which stuck out to me like a sore thumb. As an Asian American cultural critic and Buddhist practitioner, I have a finely tuned r ...

Read more

Revisiting Buddhist Anarchism

I’ve been revisiting Buddhist anarchism lately, the strain of socially engaged Buddhism that some foundational Buddhist Peace Fellowship movers and shakers were associated with in some form. Like any religion, Buddhism's tenets and teachings can be interpreted in many ways, including in the anti-state and anti-capitalist direction. In other posts I have indicated that some interpretations of Buddhism have l ...

Read more

Interdependent Co-arising and Institutionalized Ignorance

Interdependent co-arising (pratītyasamutpāda) is a a key Buddhist teaching most easily described as cause and effect, though it is not necessarily a linear chain of causation. It can be more accurately described as a network of multiple causes and conditions. It is commonly expressed as the following: This is, because that is. This is not, because that is not. This ceases to be, because that ceases to be. T ...

Read more

Taking Right Livelihood to the Next Level

We are deeply interdependent. It’s almost a cliche to say here because it’s a fundamental premise of socially engaged Buddhism. Right Livelihood, the Eightfold Path’s fifth mindfulness training, is one of the clearest areas of practice with regard to interdependence and social justice. Thich Nhat Hanh has expanded the teaching on ethical conduct this way: Aware that great violence and injustice have been do ...

Read more

© 2012 Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Scroll to top