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Lions Roar : March 2019
are within our own affinity groups. When in spaces with other people of color, there are a lot of different forms in which our liberation can express itself. It’s hard to dive into the unique shapes in the black community when we’re not among other black practitioners and teachers. It gives us an opportunity to hold ourselves more accountable about some of the stuff we may not get to when we are in multiracial spaces. Jozen Tamori Gibson (Brooklyn Zen Center; Insight Meditation Society): Ancestry is very important for me. Honoring elderhood is very important for me—understanding what it means to be invited to hold and carry a torch, understanding what that torch feels like when it’s passed hand to hand, heart to heart. It has been very important for me to feel that in this physical space. Question: As someone who has been an artist–activist all my adult life, my question is: What does engaged Buddhism look like? What is Buddhism’s role in social justice and in the political process? Gina Sharpe (Spirit Rock Meditation Center): Sometimes we may think that a Buddhist life comes through the mind. But actu- ally it involves the mind, the body, and the heart. It’s not just what we think. That’s important, but it’s not 100 percent of our practice. Practice involves what we do with our bodies and how we live in community. It involves what that community means for us and how we support the community with justice and kind- ness. It involves all of the ways we live together in that one body that we call interconnectedness. This understanding is so miss- ing in our world. For me, activism means manifesting these beautiful teachings that I have been given. I am sharing that gift with my body, with my mind, and with my heart. Activism is not separate from who I am as a practicing Buddhist; it is inextricably connected. If we have compassion and peace, it’s natural to want to help the world live in justice and peace. In some ways, we don’t even have to add the word “Buddhist.” We ’re just good people wanting the world to reflect what we feel inside. We’re not limited to our own libera- tion. Liberation is impossible if we’re disconnected from others. Ruth King: For me, so much of Buddhist practice is about a deep understanding of our interdependence. Every action I take plants a seed. When I’m doing my artistry and my activism, I ask myself: Can I be in this fight while holding somebody’s hand? Can I tell you how I really feel, but also maintain a sense of respect and humanity? Can I do that with sensitivity and care, while still say- ing what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done? It’s a crazy time right now, so what we do is important. It’s important to keep doing our work of activism. Our artistry is important as cultural medicine. It’s important how we go about it. We’re planting seeds all the time. Gretchen Rohr: I see activism as an engagement with my aligned values. A practice of mindfulness is mindless if it’s not driven by a value system. I’m very inspired by the work of some of the people and organizations I support. I’m honored to serve on the board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, which has a program called Build Block Be: build the good stuff, block the bad stuff, and be in alignment with your Buddhist values. That’s what it is for me. Myokei Caine-Barrett: I’d like to share a practice that helps me in these difficult times. It’s the practice of Bodhisattva Jofuku, who says to everyone he meets, even the person who hates him: “I respect you. I’ll never despise you. I know you’ll be a buddha someday.” Question: What challenges have you faced as people of color in your Buddhist tradition and how do you overcome those chal- lenges? For me, it’s been a long, lonely journey. Ralph Steele (Life Transition Meditation Center, Santa Fe): It has been lonely for me too. When I see you, I see me. As a kid, I saw races separated by signs that said “For coloreds only.” I saw LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 39