Author: Kelsey Blackwell (Guest Editor), et al.

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The Necessity of Including Embodiment and Lineage in Racial Justice Work

Download the complete issue: The Necessity of Including Embodiment & Lineage in Racial Justice Work   Cover design and illustrations by Alicia Brown Issue Contents Chief Editor’s Introduction by Gabe Dayley Guest Editor’s Introduction by Kelsey Blackwell Black Boys by Vernon Keeve III Race and the Body: Why Somatic Practices Are Essential for Racial Justice by Kelsey Blackwell Body Knowing as a Vehicle for Change by Arawana Hayashi Borders by Jessica Stern ‘May I Also Be the Source of Life’: Embodied Resistance, Existence, and Liberation in Bodymind as It Is by Mushim Patricia Ikeda How to Love a Mestiza Woman by Laura Soto Examining Whiteness with Meditation by Kalen Tenderness Tierney On Lineage and Whiteness by Alexandria Barnes I’ll Meet You There by Jahan Khalighi Reflections on Embodiment, Culture, and Social Justice Work in Selected Buddhist Traditions by Arisika Razak The Movement Within the Movement text and poetry by Nicole Klaymoon photography by David Wilson mask art by Tigre Bailando Comments The Arrow welcomes comments in response to issues we publish. Please submit comments for review to editor[at]arrow-journal.org. Comments may expand on …

Going to the Root: How White Caucuses Contribute to Racial Justice

Caucusing is a form of upāya—skillful means. To caucus is skillful because it reduces harm. For Buddhists, practicing harm reduction is a relative bodhicitta practice. In my experience of 24 years of facilitating racial justice work, I have found that it is not helpful to put together in the same room folks who have had racism aimed at them all their lives and folks who haven’t had to think about it very much, if at all. The latter group, white people, need a place to start thinking and feeling about it, a space for using prajña (insight) to discover how white conditioning, through no choice of their own, has been embedded in their ego. There is no white person in North America who does not have white conditioning.1 —Robert Horton, Co-FounderThe UNtraining: Healing Personal & Social Oppressions The current political landscape of the United States has made it impossible for us to avoid our racial karma. In recent years, the news has been littered with it: police violence and murder of Black and brown people …

Leaf on water, book cover
Cover Image for Healing Justice: Holistic Self-Care for Change Makers

Healing Justice for a World on Fire

In the Adittapariyaya Sutta, known as the Fire Sermon, the Buddha says that everything is burning—burning with the fire of greed, hatred, delusion, sorrows, griefs, lamentations, pains, and despair.1 But what does it mean not only to survive this burning but to live a more liberated life in a world that is on fire? While dutifully cultivating mind and spirit through practice and retreats has seemed like what would be most fruitful in “my” awakening, this approach has in fact left too many stones unturned. My personal blind spots, as well as the suffering I witness and am co-conspirator in creating on this planet, need more careful attention and action. My liberation is tied up with yours, hers, his, theirs, and ours. Some have identified a tendency to repress the emotional, somatic, environmental, and collective dimensions of the self through spiritual practice, calling it “spiritual bypassing.”2 This issue could not be more salient at a moment when spiritual leaders, including those in Buddhist and yogic communities, such as Shambhala International, have been accused of egregious …

Cutting Through Spiritual Puritanism

In the West it is difficult for the Dharma to take root. The soil is not fertile. The good and evil, fire and brimstone logic of puritanism has dried the ground and permeated our cultural and political institutions.1 Western Buddhists often lament this situation, claiming to hold a superior, subtler view that sees the emptiness of phenomena and transcends the misguided dualisms of puritanism and its modern offspring.2 Yet when crisis strikes—when the proverbial Buddhist rug is torn from its restful place beneath our feet—more than a few Western Buddhists forget their cherished dharmic view. Although some of the fire-and-brimstone eccentricities of puritanism have long since faded from mainstream discourse, the fundamental logic of good and evil—with no middle ground—remains a powerful cultural force in politics, media, and literature. Buddhist practitioners in the West, who have been steeped since birth in a society of rigid categories of good and evil and Aristotle’s law of the excluded middle,3 cannot escape their puritan conditioning, which rears its head in thoughts, feelings, and pronouncements in reaction to crisis. …

Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People

I’m breathing deeply as I write this. What I’m writing about is charged. I feel this energy in my body. It’s a heat in my throat and a rumbling in my belly. It’s an intensity that’s frustrated that these words must even be written. It propels me through my fears of backlash and worry about not getting it exactly right. What I say may anger you. You may disagree. You may feel more confused, and this, I would say, is good. It means the work can begin. Breathing. People of color need their own spaces. Black people need their own spaces. We need places in which we can gather and be free from the mainstream stereotypes and marginalization that permeate every other societal space we occupy. We need spaces where we can be our authentic selves without white people’s judgment and insecurity muzzling that expression. We need spaces where we can simply be—where we can get off the treadmill of making white people comfortable and finally realize just how tired we are. Valuing and protecting …

Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change

Download Special Issue: Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change   Illustrations by Alicia Brown Comments The Arrow welcomes comments in response to issues we publish. Please submit comments for review to editor[at]arrow-journal.org. Comments may expand on an idea, raise questions, or make a critique. They should be no more than 500 words. Regardless of the stance toward the article that a comment takes, comments should be substantive and respectful, engaging the merits of the argument.

Beyond Theory: Relating to Dominant Systems and Manifesting Social Alternatives in Dharma Communities

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. We live in a time of seemingly inexorable devastation and destruction. Carbon emissions and climate change intensifying. Ecosystems ground up by consumerism, ignorance, and greed. Industrial agriculture destroying topsoil and causing vast animal suffering. Marginalized and poor people oppressed and disenfranchised with increasing brutality. Refugee flows growing, together with cruel backlashes. And complex feedback loops through which these and other dynamics reinforce and accelerate one another. At the same time, Buddhists practice with the teaching that basic goodness or emptiness underlies all phenomena. We work with the view that between the cracks of our torn and troubled societies is enlightened society, and that simple acts of genuine kindness and conversation can transform situations. In this essay I bring the inquiry into dharma, degrowth, and climate change down to the level of practitioners and communities of practitioners. In particular, I explore how it is that different groups hold different degrees of awareness of the …

Drala of the Landscape: Rights of the River

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. In March of 2017, the Maori people of New Zealand finally won a 140-year long battle to have the Whanganui River legally enshrined as their ancestor. This recognition bestowed rights upon the river as a living being, with its own identity, rights, and duties. This means that New Zealand law now acknowledges its third largest river as a “living whole,” protected by two human guardians and accompanied by an initial $110 million in government funding to address past maltreatment and ensure continuous protection for the river.1 “We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as an indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management,” stated Gerrard Albert, who was the Whanganui iwi tribe’s head …

Collaborative Forest Management

Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. The Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change claims that reducing emissions by more than 1 percent annually would generate a severe economic crisis, and yet, climate analysts tell us we need to reduce carbon emissions by 5.3 percent annually to limit global warming to 2°C.1 Moreover, there is no evidence that decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures is possible, and although politicians tout technical solutions to climate crisis, efficiency gains from technology usually increase the absolute amount of energy consumed.2 The stark reality is that capitalist accumulation cannot continue—the global economy must shrink. Fortunately, there exist many experiments with non-capitalist modes of assessing and exchanging value, sharing goods and services, and making decisions that can help us transition to a more sustainable political economy based on principles of degrowth. One of the best ways to generate non-capitalist subjects, objects, and spaces comes from systems designed to manage common pool resources like …

Images associated with four subjectivities

Losing Our Confidence: Four Subjectivities of the Present

In May 2015 a group of young people from Europe, Mexico, and the United States came together in Mexico City and Pátzcuaro, Michoacán for the Ziji Collective Leadership Retreat. The Ziji Collective “is a global network of inspired young people, dedicated to the…radical view that human beings and society are fundamentally good,” and the work of creating “a society that is uplifted, caring, gentle, and wakeful.” In this pursuit, local Ziji groups “work through the practice of meditation; through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and wisdom; and through collective action.” Although we came from different places, we connected through our shared experience as young people facing an uncertain future of climate change, debt, limited options for rewarding stable work, disappearing free time, technology and media disconnecting us from each other and our bodies, surrounded by overt and subtle forms of violence. We explored ways to support each other across borders by initiating collaboration and establishing communities of practice. Over enchiladas in Pátzcuaro’s busy square and during contemplative walks in the gardens of the Casa Werma retreat …