Exploring the intersection of Buddhist practice and the urgency of Black Lives Matter

This was originally published on Instagram in 2020 during the Black Lives Matter protests that resulted from the murder of George Floyd.

This is a Buddhist account, but as a Buddhist account it feels wrong to not speak about the reality of the world right now. Perhaps I didn’t want to make it political. Guess what? Being apolitical IS political. It implies that you are privileged enough to turn a blind eye. An ignorant eye. Maybe privilege is by definition good karma, a rebirth of leisure and fortune – but it is still conventionally privilege. In this instance I am talking about white privilege. It exists.

Yes, samsara is everpresent, but it seems to have reared its ugly head and become quite pronounced in these past few days.

Person sitting on lotus meditating on racial harmony

How can I not talk about the entrenched racism across the world right now? Because this is a Dharma page? That is even more reason to mention it: look to the three principal paths. Renunciation, Bodhichitta, wisdom.

The Three Principle Paths

Renunciation

I will not speak for others, but as a young person in today’s society, it is not enough for me to just read dharmic texts. I know they may carry through from life to life, so I would never discourage not reading them. I acknowledge my privilege and my absolute lack of education, therefore I must read worldly texts as well. To support my Dharma practice. I’ve downloaded and am reading Sabrina Strings’ “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fatphobia” as this will support my Buddhist views and eliminate the grasping I may have to a certain ideal that is empty of inherent existence anyway. Renunciation.

Bodhichitta

Bodhichitta!! There are two types of Bodhichitta: aspiring (wishing) and venturing. I am all for prayers. 100%. But I’m also for action. Use it in conjunction with the six perfections. Sit on the cushion and dedicate all the merit to enlightenment, and that all beings have happiness and all causes of happiness, that they are free from suffering and all causes of suffering… But if you can, donate!

Dedicate that generosity (first of the six) to enlightenment.

Ethics: do not remain silent, it is unethical to do so. This is not merely about George Floyd, this is about systemic injustice. America is not some problem *out there*. Samsara, you’re standing in it.

Patience: educate yourself, be aware that you’ll probably say the wrong thing, you are learning. If someone says something problematic call them out without anger.

Joyous effort: this will take time. Remind yourself that it is for the benefit of others. When donating, no matter how much or little you do donate, do it with Mahayana intentions.

Concentration: in meditation, use this very pronounced instance of suffering to develop renunciation. Furthermore, Bodhichitta, in exchanging self with others.

Wisdom

Wisdom: this is the wisdom perceiving emptiness, which is to perceive dependent arising. It is not a single instance of one act against a black man, it is the lead up to it, and what has not been broadcast is that in this small space there have been further killings of black people.

Method and wisdom are two wings of a bird who cannot fly without the other. Compassion is method. Dependent arising is wisdom.

Black Lives Matter too

Black lives matter. I won’t be adding the hashtag to this post. That would be performative and would obscure vital information for protesters who need it. Please do not say that “All lives matter” as this is extremely problematic. Read Rachel Cargyle’s essay on this matter online. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.

Equanimity is a motif in Buddhism. And at the moment there is a blatant inequality. This first needs to be restored. I know there are countless sentient beings, but this is an actionable cause. Petitions (use an American postcode), donations, resources, are all available at blacklivesmatter.carrd.co. I will extent my linktree to include this link and other resources.

Come back to this post if you need a reminder. It may seem blunt, but so is suffering. To quote Les Sheehy from TBS Perth: “enlightenment may take lifetimes, samsara is forever”. Finally, the reason I’ve used Conqueror Maitreya as the image for this post is that to me he symbolises hope in a degenerate age.

Remember, it was already an age of degeneration when Shakyamuni appeared over 2600 years ago. But all the teachings are there.

The meditations are there. They just need to be practised.

© Taradical Compassion 2024

Taradical Compassion comprises dharma thoughts and expressions, original artwork, motion visualisations and meditations on the lam.rim (the graduated path to enlightenment) with great emphasis on the need for compassion and bodhichitta for our fellow sentient beings.

Subscribe to stay up to date

Mailing list coming soon!

Footer animals on Home page (calf and chicken)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *