For all of us in the Zen Studies Society community, now is as important a time as ever to remember our Bodhisattva vows as they relate to society and the systemic roots of suffering and oppression. The delusions of racism and white supremacy are deeply ingrained; extinguishing them is no easy or simple task. It requires deep self-investigation into how we personally uphold the norms of “white supremacy culture.” It requires an analysis of how white supremacy functions within our political, social, and economic systems – and recognizing how the personal and the systemic manifestations intersect. It is work that we must do ourselves, while simultaneously listening to, learning from, and following Black leaders and Black-led organizations.
As part of our duty to put forward the narrative of the people in our society most affected by systemic oppression and inequality, the Zen Studies Society Board of Directors have formally endorsed the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a revival of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. We support the principles and demands of the campaign, coming together with other organizations “to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. We understand that as a nation we are at a critical juncture — that we need a movement that will shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people.”
“Amid more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the USA, we suffered a loss searing in its indictment of our nation: yet another black man murdered by a white police officer. George Floyd died gasping, “I can’t breathe,” just as Eric Garner did as he was choked to death in 2014. How do we countenance the ongoing violence, economic inequity, and injustice stemming from 400 years of racism?” – Shinge Roshi, “Faith and Action,” 5/31/20.
“The mentality that crushes a brother’s neck – as in the case of George Floyd in Minneapolis – or shoots a man jogging because of his skin color – as in the case of Ahmaud Arbery – is the same mentality that sends black and brown and poor and low-income workers of all colors into the lethal path of the COVID-19 pandemic without needed protections, health care and economic resources.” – Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Statement from Poor People’s Campaign’s national co-chairs.
We strongly encourage you all to engage with and support this campaign, and become more deeply educated about how the systemic evils of our society are interconnected and manifest in people’s lives in inter-sectional ways. A great starting point to increase our awareness and understanding would be to review resources which can “help to put our racial moment in context.” In addition, we hope that you will participate in the below groups:
- Poor People’s Campaign Study Group with Yūki Eric Michels
- Book Discussion Group with Daisho John Corso-Esquivel on How to Be an Antiracist
- Engaged Buddhism Dharma Discussion Group with Jifu Devyani Sadh
“Again and again, we return to stillness, silencing mere views and opinions, so that our engagement is informed by insight. We check our intention, check our aspiration. Are we in alignment with the Buddha’s teaching of the Eight-fold Path, or is our ego-centric conditioning leading us astray? Is our understanding clear? What is our motivation? Is our speech helpful, are our actions beneficial, does our work support the welfare of others?” – Shinge Roshi, “Faith and Action,” 5/31/20.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, would like us to match your PPC donation, or wish to attend one of our upcoming study/discussion groups. We hope that you will join us in our goal of working together to cultivate an integrated and ethical way of being in the world.
Engaged Buddhism Committee
Yūki Eric Michels | Rev. Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz | Michael Fayne | Jifu Devyani Sadh