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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
40 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 2 0 1 6 in the entrenched patterns of racial suffering is not just a division of the races. The consciousness—or unconsciousness—that supports racial suffering cuts people out of our hearts, then has us try to live as if “cutting” does not hurt. We have come to accept this dismemberment as normal and move about our lives in search of spiritual freedom and content- ment, as if we are not bleeding from the wounds of separation. It’s as if we were orphans in search of our family, not realizing that they are “the other”— the ones we despise, don’t see, or think we know. We have convinced ourselves that we can live with missing body parts—with some folks and without others—and still be whole, happy, and peaceful. But the reality is that we live in a state of pervasive unsatisfactoriness and confusion, not able to see or touch a deep sense of belonging, nor put language to it. We work harder at belonging because we only make use of a fraction of our wholeness and overcompensate with what remains: righteousness or avoidance that masks fear. We waste energy that our communities need to heal and transform. In these moments of dismemberment, we have forgot- ten that all of our parts matter. Our challenge is to practice in ways that reflect tender and wise kinship with all beings. We must ask ourselves, how can we create a sangha that gen- uinely cares about racial suffering and belonging? To begin—and we are always beginning—here are a few practical strategies that we can incorpo- rate into our practice. 1. Set an Intention Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. —James Baldwin There is no shortage of information on racial ignorance, hatred, and injustice—we need only Google it! Some people lack interest in matters of race, while others feel overloaded and burdened by it and need to shift how they hold the suffering. Delusion, aversion, righteousness, and distraction are just some of the common strategies that keep us from facing the deeper truth of racial suffering and from experiencing the intimacy of our shared and diverse humanity. We must be clear in our intentions regarding what we want to wake up to, and then attend to them mindfully. We all need an intention beyond righteousness. Ask yourself, what is your vision of racial healing? Why is this important to you person- ally? What do you need to face up to and own in order to stay awake to racial suffering? How would this benefit all beings? Once you have set an intention that would sup- port racial awareness and healing, have it be a focus in your mindfulness practice. The Buddha speaks of the four bases of success: (1) You must be inter- ested; (2) You must apply effort and energy; (3) You must think about what you are trying to do, and; (4) You must look at the results or impact of what you have done. Be curious about what arises as you inquire, and explore with an attitude of kindness and tenderness. 2. Form a Racial Affinity Group No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. —Albert Einstein We all want to touch a deeper truth about our belonging—something greater than the stories we’ve been told or tell ourselves. Fundamentally, we all need a place where we can be safe, curious, and unedited so that we can discover the ignorance and innocence of our racial conditioning and racial character as a collective. We want to understand deeply what is difficult to acknowledge, feel, and attend to within us and among us. As a diversity consultant to organizations and sanghas, I encour- age the creation of racial affinity groups and have