Backing Up #TeamEngaged on Tricycle?
You’ve probably heard of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, one of the foremost English-language Buddhist journals. Maybe you’re even a subscriber. And perhaps, if you follow their online Blog section, you’ve seen comments like this one, left on an article about institutional racism.
Reply by aewhitehouse on August 21, 2013, 3:10 pm
Very disappointed to read this entry which basically just propagates the neo-liberal practice of turning over rocks and inventing asinine concepts like “white privilege” to root out so called racism. We need to look past this continued victimology and examine the cultural issues that keep these issues of race festering, rather than the “engaged Buddhist” crowd trying to foist their hard leftist brand of shame on people who have done nothing to deserve it.
At the risk of stating the obvious, not all Buddhists approve of combining dharma with anti-oppression politics. Or politics, period. Take this other commenter, responding to a very well done, re-posted entry about the “bourgie” upper-class bias of positive psychology:
Reply by buddhaddy on September 9, 2013, 1:39 pm
More politics again? I thought this was about buddhism. does not each one of us create our own karma? Is not this existence we see an illusion?
Despite knowing that social justice dharma is not everyone’s bag, to be honest I was a little shocked to see some of the hostility toward the “socially engaged” crowd. Disagreeing I get, but lashing out or dismissing wholesale?
I get the feeling that this beef goes back a long time. (Maybe some of y’all can attest to this.) Over 30 years ago, BPF was founded on the somewhat controversial idea that one should not have to choose between Buddhism and politics. To divide them is itself illusory. Furthermore, we BPFers do consciously cast our lot with a certain kind of politics. Not so narrowly as to stomp out discussion, debate, and a range of views — but we are feminist, for example, in the sense that we oppose sexist oppression (which also involves recognizing that sexist oppression exists). To fake total relativism, pretending we have no ideological starting point or context, would be disingenuous.
Fortunately, for those of us who do believe in “applied Buddhism,” there’s also a lot to celebrate over at Tricycle, from articles and webinars to lively comment threads. Without creating an adversarial Us vs. Them, I wonder whether we might be able to comment, support, and cheer on the examples of social justice dharma over there, standing up for #TeamEngaged where appropriate and relevant. (Keeping in mind that “standing up for” can include practicing kindness toward ourselves and others as much as possible.)
Here are just a few recent articles where #TeamEngaged might be able to offer smart, thoughtful contributions and stories to the discussion.
When a proposed bill puts lives at risk and endangers the future of millions—including millions of children—it must be flatly rejected on the most compelling moral grounds.
Mushim Ikeda’s webinar series, Real Refuge: Building Inclusive and Welcoming Sanghas. (First session is free.)
How accessible and culturally supportive are our sanghas for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and people of all income levels and ages seeking the dharma? In this retreat with East Bay Meditation Center’s Mushim Patricia Ikeda, we’ll explore key practices that can help us build multicultural sanghas where we can all take refuge.
In addition to the solid essay, I’m loving a couple of the comments, like:
Reply by amayfaire on August 4, 2011, 10:30 am
I have learned much from this discussion, but would like to add a different approach. Quite frankly, it sounds to me as though the focus has been to solve a class problem with material solutions. Buddhists would be much better served to open themselves to the idea that the working classes have much to teach, not just to learn.
I came to Buddhism as a working class kid, seeking some sort of spiritual home that didn’t require me to rely on fancy clothes, or tithes, or praying to deities that seemed to have little connection to my daily life. I found Buddhism as a spiritual home that argued against all those systems that held me in. Nobody brought me Buddhism, I found it.
To be clear, I’m not advocating the use of the #TeamEngaged hashtag over there; just wondering aloud whether we could help out by speaking up and thoughtfully participating more often in a few of the major Buddhist forums. I know some of us have had pretty negative experiences in the past (honestly, when comment threads get super racist it’s hard for me to even stomach reading them, let alone responding), and I’d appreciate hearing about those, too, if you wouldn’t mind.
What do you think? Benefits and drawbacks of “engaging” the “engaged” articles?