Potential Pragmatics at the Intersection of Diversity & Dhamma

thumbnail
Noah D, modified 4 Years ago.

Potential Pragmatics at the Intersection of Diversity & Dhamma

Posts: 1148 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Vince Horn did an awesome podcast with angel Kyodo Williams, who is an African American, Zen preist.  They discussed current issues of race in America, and how that intersects with modern Buddhism.  I was pleasently surprised to find Kyodo suggesting very pragmatic, down to earth solutions.  The two main things that stuck out to me were:
  • Change behavior to be more inclusive and caring by first reprioritizing.  She talks about how people of color must be consciously welcomed into Sanghas beyond the initial invite: should I spend time setting up the Zendo or getting to know the Latina woman that just walked in?
  • Do deep investigations of how our individual trauma blocks us from stepping out of our racial paradigms.  To hash this out: they discussed how "Whiteness" is invisible, and that discussion of it upsets people.  Part of the reason it upset people is because it points to our deepest wounds.
My own add-on is that the subtle reificiation tied up in these inner knots is directly related to the perceptual duality that many in pragmatic dharma seek to investigate.

I have been practicing a type of Buddhism that is heavily focused on how all of training is habit formation, and it is all integrated.  Thus conduct and emotions have a reflexive relationship with the degree of clarity and openness in one's sensory field.  When I heard Kyodo's words, I thought that this focus on habit formation could inform how one went about eliminating the implicit biais and microaggressions that are a part of the overall racial tension occuring in America.  

Specifically, one needs to have a protocol every time an issue of diversity comes up.  It might look something like this:
-Investigate the emotions in the body-mind, and also on the conceptual level.
-Understand that implicit biais is happening "behind" this awareness, and that is OK.
-Purposely smile, make eye contact, etc.  Force oneself to be friendly and interact in ways beyond one's normal autopilot.
-Follow up with a check in on how this external contact made you feel, specifically related to touching any "wounds."

By repeating a process like this in daily life over a period of years, one could "wire in" the ability to learn emotions and conduct that embrace diversity, whilst simultaneously investigating deeper knots that could help free up greater nonduality inside.  
thumbnail
bernd the broter, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Potential Pragmatics at the Intersection of Diversity & Dhamma

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Noah D:
should I spend time setting up the Zendo or getting to know the Latina woman that just walked in?
Teenage me thinks this question is not necessarily related to diversity, but I'm sure you were well aware of that before writing this sentence (:
thumbnail
Noah D, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Potential Pragmatics at the Intersection of Diversity & Dhamma

Posts: 1148 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Haha.  She's the expert.  What I liked about that example is that it's the type of thing that, if repeated by en masse by folks, actually would make some difference.  This isn't to dismiss the need for structural/systemic change, but to bolster it with some solid conduct modification along the lines of the Supramundane.  At a deeper level, it's about connection/caring, not diversity.  But how does one actually do that?

Breadcrumb