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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
32 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 1 6 community of identities and influences that may not be apparent to those around us—or even to us. In my experience, authenticity as a dharma teacher requires a kind of radical presence. “Radi- cal” speaks to a sense of remembering and returning laMa rOD OwenS is a resident teacher with natural Dharma fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts. he completed a traditional three-year retreat at Karma thubten Choling Monastery. to a simple and basic way of being in the world, one that reduces the violence to oneself and others; it honors one’s own passions and aspira- tions and relates to the world from a place of equanimity. When we choose this way of being in the world, we feel at home in our own body, with no desire to leave it; because we feel at home in the body, we feel at home in the world. That is radical pres- ence. And at its heart is an awareness of one’s own intersectionality. What we teachers fear most is letting others see that we are not as confident as our years of dharma practice may suggest. Teaching from our recognized intersectionality helps us practice vulnerability as an expression of dharma. It lets others see us in ways that can be healing, and it gives us permission to let go of our masks. In my daily practice and as I am preparing to offer a dharma talk, I often do a practice of nam- ing my different identity locations and then reflect- ing on them. (I like the term “location” because it brings awareness to the fact that I have been grounded in certain identities and that I do not move out of them—I firmly occupy them. I have been put in these places; I am conditioned to remain in these places.) When you sit down on the cushion, try to name for yourself the identities that most impact how you show up. In my case, I am a Black, polyqueer, able-bodied, cisgendered male lama who is of mixed photoGraphscourtesyoFtheauthor