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9/16/17 2:59 PM
Please help. There are a couple of lines of energy in the sangha I practice with that are encouraging division and 'us and them' mentality. One is a subsangha of people of color (invitation only) and the other is a series of meetings to deal with whiteness (their word) as a source of prejudice and oppression to be cured with--what a surprise--mindfulness. It's really just extreme political correctness in a different coat.

I would appreciate direction to canonical material about the Buddha refusing to recognize caste or other forms of imaginary superior/inferior scaling of anyone once they have taken vows. I 'm sure it is there. I just can't remember where.

Thanks in advance for any help.

RE: caste
Answer
9/16/17 3:19 PM as a reply to Steve Katona.
 I would just let it go, if I were you.   What are your odds of making things "better" and not worse?  Just love everyone and keep practicing,  Easier said than done!    In my experience,  groups will like this usually die out after a bit on their own.  

I see that you are worried that they will reify the delusion of race and seperation, but that is so gross a delusion in view on the dharma of no self that I think practice alone will cure any reiification that occurs.  If people of color feel the need for mutual support, who is anyone to judge them?  If others see themselve as complicit in a racist culture and want to purge themselve of racial delusions, why not see that as courageous and merit worthy? 

RE: caste
Answer
9/16/17 4:37 PM as a reply to Steve Katona.
One is a subsangha of people of color (invitation only) and the other is a series of meetings to deal with whiteness (their word) as a source of prejudice and oppression

Personally I think that's a good idea for people to try. I've seen some meditation retreats planned only for people of color. I think comparing it to "caste" is inadequate. There are several reasons for this.

The spirit of non-discrimination descending from early Buddhism seems important to me. The Dharma should be taught to everyone. 

I imagine that monasteries should be open to everyone up to the limit of their capacity or the judgment of responsible and hopefully compassionate managers. In some parts of the world monasteries can help break important political barriers, such as by existing on the border of two countries in an ambiguous zone accepting of both sides (which has happened). 

In modern America however, we're talking mostly lay practitioners and very rarely actual monks in monasteries. This is very different! 

I am pretty positive the vast majority of Buddhist communities are run and organized by white folks in the US (when it's not immigrated teachers or Asian Americans).

To the extent that America has and always has had very powerful racial caste elements, having white people in charge of almost every Buddhist setting is certain to have damaging impacts. I'm glad some people want to talk about this problem, and I also feel that it is extremely important that non-white people have a chance to come together unhindered to have an honest and open discussion about how they're feeling and what can be done. I think our society has a lot of good experience with how this is constructive.

I suspect that most practitioners in the Buddha's time came from - on average - poorer families with an odd mix of Brahmin caste folks and former ascetics thrown in. I suspect that American Buddhism (being dominated by white people, and historically connected to important cultural and artistic movements and a range of entrepeneurs and prominent psychologists, writers, etc) probably loosely has more in common with elitist Rinzai Zen tendencies in Japan catering to samurai-class folks. 

I'd like to believe that people living on two sides of a war or two extremes of a caste system can always practice meditation together and feel accepted by each other, but my instinct is to favor the oppressed group if they want space and time to themselves.

So I agree with Seth, practically speaking. Few lay meditators (and even a lot of monks) are able to renounce political ties, political privileges, and political dangers.

It may be a pretty bitter pill to swallow, but I think in virtually all cases white people should defer to people of color when it comes to understanding race relations in America and how to lead the way forward. Although I trust enlightened teachers who have fought their karma hard to be compassionate and open-minded, I think that expecting white American teachers to run institutions without being complicit in some level of subconscious or invisible racism would be a big oversight/spiritual bypassing. 

Honestly, a lot of smart, ivy-league educated people of color I've met have made it clear that they find the presence of lots and lots of white people (especially those in charge of them, teaching them, etc and who can often be un-mindful of their own frequent discrimination) to be a toxic atmosphere. Sure, on some level the experience of your own atmosphere as toxic or not is an internal phenomenon that can be changed, probably sometimes very much by karmic de-conditioning... but it would be wrong to say that the tendency of POC to "discriminate" white people as different isn't due to a much more powerful reverse phenomenon that has been happening to them their entire lives. It's a silly comparison, but I grew up and had a hard time living with Republican Mormons (you could say that those are just politics + religion, but it's also cultural in unique ways). I feel a lot more loving-kindness towards some of these folks than I used to, but I'd really want a breather if I found out I could only ever meditate/pray with Republican Mormons almost anywhere I went...

I think it is tempting to equate "race blindness" with the non-discrimination suggested by say the 
Vasettha Sutta (discussing human appearance the Buddha mentions markings on animals). Unfortunately "race blindness" is a fiction that invariably translates to "blindness to racism, societal structure, and internal conditioning." And the Buddha's teachings in the Vasettha Sutta are not to judge by color but to judge by deed - there is still judgment and merit. I think that someone failing to renounce imperialism or white supremacy is a deed or non-deed that can be judged.



RE: caste
Answer
9/17/17 7:21 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
 I would just let it go, if I were you.   What are your odds of making things "better" and not worse?  Just love everyone and keep practicing,  Easier said than done!    In my experience,  groups will like this usually die out after a bit on their own.  

I see that you are worried that they will reify the delusion of race and seperation, but that is so gross a delusion in view on the dharma of no self that I think practice alone will cure any reiification that occurs.  If people of color feel the need for mutual support, who is anyone to judge them?  If others see themselve as complicit in a racist culture and want to purge themselve of racial delusions, why not see that as courageous and merit worthy? 

I agree with Seth. I am a 'yellow' monk and although I will never join such an endeavor, why not simply observe with absolute objectivity? Any form of mental judgement/division (e.g. for/against caste) should be investigated thoroughly for oneself instead of participating? If you decide to participate, having done the necessary investigations will endow you with what could be the 'right' actions...

RE: caste
Answer
9/17/17 9:13 AM as a reply to Steve Katona.
Please define: yellow monk.

Leaving this alone and letting it find its own manifestation seems wisest. All replies led to this. Gratitude.

RE: caste
Answer
9/17/17 11:00 AM as a reply to Steve Katona.
JMHO, but what you also have here, Steve, is the opportunity this presents to examine your internal predispositions about the situation. You seem to be toubled by it. Why? I'd sit with that and look inward for insight.

RE: caste
Answer
9/17/17 11:10 PM as a reply to Steve Katona.
Steve Katona:
Please define: yellow monk.

Leaving this alone and letting it find its own manifestation seems wisest. All replies led to this. Gratitude.


Yellow - Race: Chinese
Born/Nationality: Singapore
Location: Thailand Monastery/Temple

Coaching 2 caucasians (white) now from USA and Germany.

If colour comes into play, the blacks & whites fade... (truth becomes unclear) 

RE: caste
Answer
9/18/17 5:13 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Paweł K:
Singapore... China... aren't those countries with IQ 108 and 105 respectively?
your kind have even less 'color' than mine
in US you are 'privileged' when comparing house income and other stats
in other words: last people who suffer discrimination =)

Hahaha I am not sure about the national averages, but I suspect Singaporeans might be lower than that? :p

Is US a hotbed for racial issues? The only experience I had: Was walking quietly alone in Boston one night and was almost assaulted by a big 'white' guy, presumably post-drinks.

RE: caste
Answer
9/18/17 6:02 AM as a reply to Steve Katona.
Steve Katona:

I would appreciate direction to canonical material about the Buddha refusing to recognize caste or other forms of imaginary superior/inferior scaling of anyone once they have taken vows. I 'm sure it is there. I just can't remember where.


Buddha recognised the castes in society but not in his Sangha. The quote you require is below: 

(4) Just as the mighty rivers on reaching the great ocean lose their former names and designations and are just reckoned as the great ocean; even so, when members of the four castes—nobles, brahmins, commoners and menials—go forth from home into the homeless life in this Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, they lose their former names and lineage and are reckoned only as ascetics following the Son of the Sakyans. This is the fourth wonderful and marvellous quality in this Dhamma and Discipline….

https://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh208_Nyanaponika_Bodhi_Anguttara-Nikaya-Anthology--II.html#S48TheSimileoftheOcean

(4) “Just as, when the great rivers … reach the great ocean, they give up their former names and designations and are simply called the great ocean, so too, when members of the four social classes—khattiyas, brahmins, vessas, and suddas—go forth from the household life into homelessness in the Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, they give up their former names and clans and are simply called ascetics following the Sakyan son. This is the fourth astounding and amazing quality that the bhikkhus see in this Dhamma and discipline….


https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.19