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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
ann gleig 27 the Shambhala Buddhist tradition. How do such new voices affect meditation-based convert lineages? Rev. Imamura’s letter echoes the early characterization of pri- marily white, meditation-based convert communities, observing that “White practitioners practice intensive psychotherapy on their cushions in a life-or-death struggle with the individual ego, whereas Asian Buddhists seem to just smile and eat together.” It is of little surprise then that the theme of community appears strongly in the work of Arunlikhati, Hsu, and Han. Arunlikhati has most recently written about the need to create refuges for Buddhists of color— ”spaces where people can find true comfort and well-being”—and shares that his dream “is for Western Buddhism to be like a family that accepts all of its members openly.” In challenging white privi- lege, Asian Americans and other practitioners of color have been instrumental in recovering and building the neglected third refuge— sangha—in meditation-based convert Buddhism. BuIldIng The Beloved communITy On July 1, 2015, a website called Buddhists for Racial Justice started circulating among Buddhists on social media. It included an open letter that spoke of the deep sadness at the murders of the nine mem- bers of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charles- ton, Carolina, a few weeks prior. These murders, it stated, were not only the result of an individual deluded by racial hatred and a desire to start a race war but also an outgrowth of the legacy of slavery and white supremacy that persisted in the American collective con- sciousness and institutional structures. Buddhists, it continued, are obliged to realize the interconnectedness of experience, to recognize the causes and conditions that perpetuate this collective suffering, and to respond compassionately by embodying the precept of non- harm through tangible actions. Alongside this open letter were two “Calls to Engage”: one for white practitioners to awaken to white privilege and the other for practitioners of color to “investigate their own unconscious patterning that perpetuates the suffering of rac- ism.” By the following day, more than five hundred people from a wide variety of Buddhist lineages had endorsed the letter, and within two weeks that number had risen to 1,400.