Southeast Asians may add yoga and meditation to this title as well. In the US, 67 percent of Buddhists are Asian. Yet, the face of American Buddhism is predominantly white as Asians have been marginalized. Funie Hsu, an assistant professor of American Studies at San Jose State University and a board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, addresses this in a frank and forthright manner in the Lion’s Roar. This post highlights major points but interested readers should read the whole article. As we resist the inequality, racism, and bigotry, let us not forget that they all exist even in the space of mindfulness and meditation–in complete contradiction to the teachings. It is worth contemplation! Hsu suggests: deep contemplation on this can help shatter the fragility of the false self and the delusion of racial colorblindness.
The points Hsu makes are valid in many ways to yoga which includes meditation. A major difference is that Southeast Asians did not suffer the internment that the Japanese Americans went through.
Hsu writes: it’s time we recognize the contributions of Asian American Buddhists and address the racism and cultural appropriation that marginalizes their ongoing role in transmitting the dharma in the West.
White supremacy has systematically alienated Asian and Asian American Buddhist communities and diminished the validity of our relationship to Buddhism in the U.S. The erasure and exclusion of our communities is not merely about a lack of inclusion; to put it so simply would be dismissive of the facts of history. The exclusion of Asian and Asian American Buddhists from conversations on American Buddhism is cultural appropriation. It renders invisible our foundational role in establishing and maintaining Buddhism in America despite white supremacy. Thus, such erasure denies our right to claim our deep and specific connection—indeed, our centrality—to American Buddhism. It appropriates our historical authority in order to promote the white ownership of an indigenous Asian practice for liberation.
The white ownership of Buddhism is claimed through delegitimizing the validity and long history of our traditions, then appropriating the practices on the pretext of performing them more correctly.
Hsu concludes: In the U.S., that path (the three gems of Buddha, dharma, and sangha) includes the liberation of suffering from white supremacy. This is American Buddhism.
It is also American yoga and meditation.
Too Many Names
by Pablo Neruda
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.
No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.
When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.
It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.
When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?
This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.
I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.
Source: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/N/NerudaPablo/TooManyNames/index.html– from Neruda: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda / Translated by Anthony Kerrigan
The sun shines over all life without distinction
The water flows with no attempt at prejudice
The earth holds us all without labels
The tree gives fruit and shade without judgement
The breath flows from one to another giving life to all
The sky covers us with the umbrella of infinite space
Rich or poor, dark or light, man or woman
No East, West, North, or South
Seeing no country or religion
Why let the mind divide what Nature does not
Poem: Meena Modi
Image Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2016/02/01/21/53/weapons-1174491_960_720.jpg
In meditation we experience oneness. Nothing separates us from life, all beings.Can we carry that inner awareness into our outer world, our daily lives? If the inner light cannot shine on thoughts and behaviors that arise from fears and insecurities, conditioned thinking, then one must question the quality and motivation of meditation. Fears arise from lack of understanding. They imprison and painfully dissect minds, people, and communities. This poem from the March 27, 2013, blog post is copied to renew awareness in this polarized world.
Lady Gaga asks His Holiness The Dalai Lama about the despair and loneliness in youth; the importance of kindness and compassion for self-esteem and sense of purpose; and connecting to our shared humanity for healthier living. What meditation to practice is another question briefly explored.