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We have failed

We have failed

We have failed Black boys and young Black men. Every last one of us has failed to end police killing of Black boys and men. [This was originally sent to BPF's 5000-person strong em ...

Sitting on #ShutItDown and Solidarity with Ferguson

Sitting on #ShutItDown and Solidarity with Ferguson

I'm sitting in my home in Oakland, California, meditating as police helicopters fly overhead. I am not at the protests demanding justice for Mike Brown, even though I live only a f ...

Gender Dysphoria and the Dharma

Gender Dysphoria and the Dharma

As a gender non-conforming person, I am prone to leaving my body, abandoning it, running away. Buddhist meditation helped me come back to a "buddha-nature drenched in flesh." ...

Right Anger and the Path to the End of Caste

Right Anger and the Path to the End of Caste

In the face of violence and brutality, we should develop "samma kodha" — Right Anger — for the sake of all beings. ...

A New Story of Us: Storytelling, Movement Building & the 4th Noble Truth

A New Story of Us: Storytelling, Movement Building & the 4th Noble Truth

"Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity." – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian writer ...

Systemic Youth Suffering: The Twelve-Fold Path of Social Transformation

Systemic Youth Suffering: The Twelve-Fold Path of Social Transformation

When it comes to the education of low-income students of color, mindfulness can easily mystify the structure of social oppression, shifting the analysis of school reform from the s ...

Towards Collective Liberation, or Why We Won’t Stop Talking About Racism

Towards Collective Liberation, or Why We Won’t Stop Talking About Racism

Race was a central theme at BPF’s National Gathering, with offerings like: The Invisible Majority: Will the Real Asian American Buddhist Please Stand Up? Revisiting the Middle Pass ...

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Men’s Violence

by Steve Self If you want peace on earth, begin in your own country. If you want peace in your country, begin in your community. If you want peace in your community, begin in your family. If you want peace in your family, begin with yourself. If you want to be peaceful, begin with your own heart. - loosely from Confucius. As the author of the stunning article Hate Crimes: A Rape Every Minute, a Thousand Cor ...

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Third Gender (A Poem)

Third Gender   1   I remember when I turned my last skirt into a tablecloth because I only wanted to be one gender now and it was not girl. I remember when everything changed– I turned the tablecloth back into a skirt.   2   The red purse was the last present my mother ever gave me. I hid it under the bed and then I got sober and she went into a coma. It was easier to look like a girl wh ...

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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 ...

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Building Patriarchy on the Fields of Alaya

by Nancy Thompson I remember being in religious instruction in second grade and wondering whether Jesus had, in fact, died for my sins since everything was about men; he was a fisher of men, he redeemed man’s sins. I asked the teacher, who explained that women were included under the umbrella of “man.” I was not convinced. As I grew up, I became less convinced about the validity of much of what the Roman Ca ...

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“Bad Apples?” Buddhist Commodities and Power Relations

Power and Privilege In a letter recounting a sexually abusive relationship which involved a well-known Buddhist teacher and one of his female students, the following phrase was used. “You should have mentioned this privately.”   The teacher was rebuking the student for making the situation public. That phrase points directly to the problems inherent in many Buddhist sanghas in the “West” (for want of a ...

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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 ...

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Out-Organizing Patriarchy, or: Buddhist Strategies For Existing Politically In A Mini-dress

Feminism is about politics, not a one-size-fits-all uniform. —Janell Hobson, Ms. magazine writer, in Policing Feminism: Regulating the Bodies of Women of Color Some would say it's my fault, for wearing a dress like that to a political action. How do you expect to be taken seriously? (And, from certain older feminists): We fought to be seen as more than sex objects.  How can you throw away that progress? Und ...

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