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Nov 10
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Seattle Conversations and Connections

Inclusion movement fueled by radical compassion

by Andrea D’Asaro

Groups throughout our Seattle community are engaging in challenging conversations and connections around diversity and implicit bias, with the goal of healing collectively through mindfulness and insight.  The book Radical Dharma is the touchstone of these efforts.  Lead author Rev Angel kyodo Williams, a friend of the Sakyong and frequent speaker at Shambhala city and land centers, is inspiring the journey.  “Without inner change, there can be no outer change, without collective change, no change matters,” she writes.  She will offer a two-day program at 8 Limbs Yoga Center in December.

The Seattle Shambhala Center Director had this to say about the program: “It’s inspired by the efforts around race and inclusion in the Center and how committed our community is to genuine transformation. We are connecting with Reverend Angel to establish a relationship where she might really help guide our work.”

This fall the Seattle Center also started a new People of Color group, led by Nina Lucia Nabizadeh, beginning in October.  “My vision is to make Shambhala  more accessible for People of Color, who have a vital role in manifesting enlightened society. My intent is to create a consistent and safe space for POC to practice meditation and engage in fellowship,” says Nina. The group will enjoy formal meditation practice, dharma study, and group discussion and processing. “Individuals from all spiritual traditions are welcomed, and no prior meditation experience is required—it’s open to anyone who identifies as a person of color.”

Two new monthly books groups started in September, focusing on Williams’ book Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, and led by Lama Owens with Jasmine Syedullah.  The group meets in the Seattle homes of members Andrea D’Asaro and Ben Hines, respectively, for access to participants from the north and south areas of Seattle.  The group follows the book’s encouragement of personal and social transformation around bias and inclusion.  Members read each section at home and bring comments to the monthly groups, centered around powerful quotes: “White folks’ particular reluctance to acknowledge their impact while continuing to benefit from the construct leaves a wound intact without a dressing. Truth is necessary for reconciliation…and to express the promise of liberation for all beings…”

Ben Black leads the Queer Dharma group, which meets on the last Saturday of the month and includes readings from Radical Dharma.  The book inspires discussions on  experiences of oppression since it’s written by three African American Buddhists who are gay. “Queer teachers are so rare,” says Ben, who met Rev. Williams on a summer retreat at Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center. He notes that readings help members step back and see how “we all grew up in white supremacy and white privilege and are affected by patriarchy.”

The Seattle Center’s Heart of Recovery addiction group, also led by Ben Black, is “inclusive and diverse, racially and in other ways. We focus on being a safe place for all people to come. It’s a neutral place to get a taste of Shambhala.”


Editor’s note: a version of this story was previously published on the Seattle Shambhala Meditation Center website: https://seattle.shambhala.org/blog/

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