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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
44 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY realizations but also integral to the structure he constructed for awakening: the sangha. Over the last decade or so, white sanghas, particularly in the U.S., have recognized the need to diversify; however, they tend to do so while still ensuring that white people, and the cultural ethos they generate, remain central. Buddhist pioneers in the West, including many white teachers, generally feel a duty to faithfully pass on their understanding of the forms and teachings they received. However, when this veers into rigidity and a sense of ownership of the dharma, it undermines inclusivity, and a sangha can devolve into fixed rela tionships of patronage that are innately disempowering. Ultimately, hierarchies that perpetuate white and male entitlement weaken sup port for an awakening process that doesn’t just transcend conditions but also reflects equity in line with how the Buddha envisioned and developed his sangha. In response to our times, we have the opportunity to avoid rep licating oppressive racist and sexist systems in our dharma commu nities. Essentially, we are called to a journey that requires “leaving the master’s house,” a term familiar to African Americans, coined by Caribbean American writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. It’s a term we as white people should now consider. It describes per fectly the construct of systemic power, which is further defined by bell hooks as “imperialist, white, supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.” This power paradigm is woven into the institutions that shape soci ety, the economies we live within, the opportunities afforded to us or not, and the quality—and even length—of our lives. In essence, it forms the very core of how we experience ourselves. And it shapes our sanghas.