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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
spring 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 63 education, I noticed a marked disconnect in the room. Those representing the community groups weren’t particularly concerned about matters of inclusion but rather wanted to talk about dealing with police and getting support for health care and education. By contrast, those representing the mind- fulness organizations focused on inclusion, framed often as delivery of service or making mindfulness leadership training less expensive. What was trou- bling wasn’t the goals themselves but the way the two groups talked past each other from different assumptions. During the more informal discussions, this dis- connect was further characterized by questions of ally-ship—how might individuals working in mind- fulness organizations better serve the community as white allies, for example, or as LGBTQIA allies? This led me to reflect on a concept derived from Liberation Theology—that of “accompaniment,” defined as a long-term “being with” oppressed oth- ers through a commitment to equality and resource sharing, often across perceived interests. This prag- matic solidarity, walking with others in their strug- gle for survival, points to an ethical horizon where, to reference the Zen Peacemaker liturgy, we find opportunity not merely to help but “to see ourselves as Other and Other as ourselves.” In order to move beyond sentiment and express solidarity with others as an embodied relationship, we need to go beyond being allies and explore how we might accompany others in this way. Accompaniment as a form of solidarity involves siding with the poor, oppressed, and marginalized and accompanying them on their journey, giving what we can and being willing to receive what is given in return in the way of education, training, and conviviality. Buddhists may recognize this as the interrelationship of karuna and dana. In order to embody the universal compassion of the bodhi- sattva, we train in the perfection of generosity, where karuna, as an embodied capacity to suffer with others, manifests as giving. In the Pali litera- ture, dana is presented as an individual expression of compassion for a shared good. It is a practical manifestation of communal solidarity. Compassion in Buddhism is also talked about as anukampa, which is sometimes translated literally as a “crying out at the crying out of another.” It is a movement of the heart—often described as a trem- bling—to act on the behalf of others. Seen in this light, dana defines giving not simply as a contrac- tual exchange but as a spiritual practice where the proper enjoyment and utilization of wealth embod- ies selflessness and embraces human dignity. It also supports caga, or a generous attitude, loosening one’s grip on possessions and self-benefit. Solidarity as dana involves sharing our ideas, labor, and time, as well as monetary contributions and creative endeavors. Like accompaniment, it reaches across perceived differences to define new ways of belonging. Giving, and relationships defined by giving, are central to our received Buddhist traditions and their oral literatures. In Zen meal chants, for example, we find a Mahayana expression characterized, as Shohaku Okumura describes, as a “continuous circle of offerings”; in the act of offering, the dis- tinctions between giver, receiver, and gift fall away. Here, both Buddhist practice and the embodiment The first step toward solidarity is to see through our conventional limitations and stand against injustice by listening to the voice of the other crying out.