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Lions Roar : July 2018
N A SOCIETY where many fight to be seen and heard, Mushim Ikeda sees a great need for well-being for the oppressed through spirituality and community. “For people in identity groups targeted for severe oppression,” she says, “such as trans- gender folks, people with disabilities, people who are very dark-skinned, people who are really poor or homeless, just to survive, they need to have immense courage. However, surviving isn’t the same as thriving.” Ikeda is the community coordinator of the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) in Oak- land, California, which offers meditation and teachings from Buddhist and other wisdom traditions, with a focus on social action, multiculturalism, and diverse populations. When people are in survival mode, Ikeda says, they need support to even imagine a life in which they aren’t always struggling. “It takes courage to reach out for ways in which you can enjoy ease, creativity, and be in a space where you can relax and feel pleasure. People can get stuck in fight and flight, if that’s what has served them. But I don’t want to always just fight and survive. What kind of life is that?” EBMC is based on the principle of radical inclusivity, which Ikeda says means creating a space where everyone is welcome and feels safe to practice and experience community. EBMC is viewed by many as a leader and model as American Buddhism changes to meet the needs of people with different backgrounds and life experiences. “Visiting teachers say this is the most diverse center in the country,” says one participant. Ikeda agrees. “East Bay Medi- tation Center is unique, but we don’t want it to be.” Where Everyone Can Thrive East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland is a leader in developing dharma for people who don’t feel welcome elsewhere. LINDSAY KYTE explores EBMC’s focus on respect, safety, and the joy of being seen for who you are. Left: Many EBMC members are active in progressive politics. They display their banner at the Women’s March in Oakland. Below: EBMC has added Mahayana teachings to its Insight Meditation foundation. Participants join teacher Mushim Ikeda (seated center) to take bodhisattva vows in 2017. PHOTOBYCANDIMARTINEZCARTHEN I LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 35