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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
55 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY BUDDHADHARMA: I would imagine there are elements of that in the East Bay case, Larry? LARRY YANG: Sure. We’ve tried to really create a different infra- structure. It has been challenging letting go of how things have been done traditionally. We have no idea where we’re going to end up. We just know that at the moment there are multiple needs that are being served, and given the way we operate, the community will hopefully guide the process. We’re in a process of hierarchical reorientation, so that we really will be run by the community’s vision as it deepens its collective practice. It may have been started by a few people, but cer- tainly the community is starting to take real ownership. It’s going beyond being a meditation center that is imposing a set of teachings because we think they’re liberating to being a community that is liberating itself and whoever comes into its sphere. AMANDA RIVERA: One of the things we try to do is focus on indi- vidual human beings, their buddhanature, not necessarily their identity. We focus on their sanity, who they are essentially. All these other things, white or black or Hispanic or gay or Asian, just happen to be a part of who they are. They are ongoing challenges for us individually and collectively, but what’s most important is that we’re able to use the teachings to help us challenge those aspects of our lives and to create opportunity and unity in our common goal of individual happiness as well as world peace. Nichiren Daishonin talked about the Buddhist principle of itai doshin, “Many in body, one in mind.” This reminds us that we are very diverse as people but what’s most important is maintaining our unity, one mind. It’s most impor- tant that we attain individual and collective happiness and world peace and live a very spiritually and fulfilling existence, regardless of what language we speak or culture we belong to. LARRY YANG: Elevating our collective awareness and conscious- ness and intention for this kind of social transformation is about so much more than just one person or one center or one community. We need to bring together many perspectives, as we have in this conversation. ANGEL KYODO WILLIAMS: There are many facets and layers to this challenge. The more we’re willing to come to the table and have conversations outside our own circles, the more we will learn. I would echo what Larry said about being able to see the changes that are occurring. That is certainly gratifying and provides motivational fuel for continuing to do all the work we need to do. At East Bay Meditation Center we pretty much have 50 percent communities of color and 50 percent European Americans at our events. That demographic reorientation is an awareness practice. When people walk into the room, it’s a different experience for everybody. — Larry Yang PHOTOS (TOP) A. JESSE JIRYU DAVIS, (BOTTOM) JILL SHEPHERD Participants in Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program at Garrision Institute New York Insight Meditation Center