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Lions Roar : May 2019
religious parents), so I’m not sure which side of this gulf I fall on. It seems that I have fallen into the chasm created by the either/or options of this binary. Here’s the thing: I’m tired of the “two Buddhisms” narrative. We humans are too susceptible to the metaphors we use, the stories we tell ourselves. I do not represent all Asian American Bud- dhists, just as I don’t expect any individual white (or other) Buddhist to speak for all of “their kind.” Stereotypes that view Asian American Buddhists as Oriental monks or superstitious immigrants sting. The promotion of a monoculture of mindfulness denies access to a world of Buddhist practice that includes ritual, chanting, offerings, bowing, and so much more. When the word “enclaves” is applied to majority-Asian American Buddhist temples but not majority-white meditation centers, I can’t help but wonder if this is just another way for people who look like me to be forever othered, “perpetual for- eigners” no matter how many generations ago our ancestors came to this country. Here are some shifts I’d like to see in the future of American Buddhism: From hubris to humility: fixating less on exper- tise and celebrity and focusing more on an honest acknowledgement of our blind spots in order to examine the ways we (intentionally or otherwise) harm others through our actions, speech, and thoughts. From assumptions to curiosity: suspending our stereotypes to make room for questions and deep listening. From narrowness to diversity: getting outside our limited experiences and viewpoints to meet and learn from those who are, too often, after- thoughts in our Buddhist circles. From enclaves to interconnections: moving past our tendency to stick with those who are similar to us (and to alienate those who aren’t) so as to build communities that honor differences and cultivate empathy. From two Buddhisms to intersectional Bud- dhism: because why constrain ourselves to sim- plistic dualities when a vast kaleidoscope of pos- sibilities remain unexplored before us? Let’s continue these conversations. Let’s keep listening for the voices less heard. And when I say us, I include myself—and you, too, dear reader. Gender and Sexuality: From “Other” to Others CELEBRATING YEARS ROSHI PAT ENKYO O’HARA on how to move past our discomfort and old ideas and make Buddhist communities welcom- ing to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT: How welcoming are you to people of different sexual orientations and gender identities? How welcoming is your Buddhist community? How welcoming is the larger Buddhist world? At this historical moment, when people of dif- ferent sexual and gender orientations and identi- ties are emerging from the shadows, we must ask ourselves deeply and honestly if we meet these differences with an open heart, or if we step back, close off, and shut down our fellowship. We are fortunate to be living at a time when people of conscience are called to pay attention to the subtle ways we harm others through our uncon- scious biases, our lack of awareness, and our stub- born clinging to received ideas buried in our culture. It reminds me of Ryokan’s haiku, translated here by Kaz Tanahashi: Noisy kids lack coordination to catch early fireflies Our minds can be like noisy kids. And the fireflies that we fail to catch? I think of the very ground of Buddhist teachings—the interrelated interconnection of all realities, all peoples, all times and places. This is the marvelous diversity of all of life. Fireflies light up our lives with the realization of our common bond. The lights these fireflies give out are sparks of wisdom, compas- sion, and loving-kindness. So what blinds us to these aspects of dharma when we meet someone different from what we have known? Often, without realizing it, our noisy minds automatically go to old, broken, and mis- taken ideas—inherited views of the “right way” for the “other” to look, to love, to express, to be. And so we let our facial expressions, our body lan- LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 69