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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
summer 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 37 practitioners, we have an opportunity to understand the dynamics of racial suffering and the flesh we put on its bones. Honoring our relatedness, our belonging, and our impact is a neces- sity for awakening in general and for transforming racial suffering in par- ticular—in our own hearts, and in our communities and institutions. As an African American Western Buddhist practitioner and teacher, I have sat on my meditation cushion in silence, with hundreds of other yogis, ripening my capacity to live in gentle and wise awareness. I’ve done this, sometimes for months at a time, without ever speaking to the yogi who sat beside me, and within me there was great comfort in knowing that despite our differing paths, we had somehow landed on our cushions and were opening our hearts together. This, in my mind, is a miracle. But over the years, participating in dharma pro- grams mostly attended and led by white people, I often felt my heart quake and stomach tighten after hearing teachers and yogis speak from a lack of awareness of themselves as racial beings. I didn’t hear blatant racist comments with intent to harm. Rather, there was a more subtle oblivious- ness to whiteness as a collective and its privilege and impact, and an assumption that we were all the same or wanted to be. In those moments, despite my best efforts, I was reminded of race and of being invisible and would spin into a hurricane of anger, confusion, and despair, asking myself: Why did you come? What did you expect? Are you delusional? Why do you need your experience to be acknowl- edged here? Why don’t you wake up and stop kid- ding yourself? (Opposite) Slimm, 2014 Three antique quilts, assorted textiles, spray paint, spray glitter, treated acrylic paint, tar, felt, thread, 61 x 113 inches QUILTS By sanFord biggers A S BuDDhiSt anD MinDfuLneSS