Seeing the Unseen


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workbc9's picture

What is the meaning of "under represented"? With all due respect, I was confused for the first 10 to 20 sentences of your discussion. There were a lot of words (code words) like “diversity” and “movement” which have a specific meaning in the Bay area but might be misinterpreted. Yes, we should include all humans/beings into the prospect of friendship, compassion, practice, enlightenment, dinner, car rides and so on, to the capacity they choose. Perseveration on race, gender identity, sexual preference, economic disparity, weight, gas prices and so on ad infinitum is just another delusion and deviation. They are fixations, regardless of the social nobility, like any other, confounding the mind and likely concluding in resultant suffering.

Mushim's picture

Hello workbc9, thank you very much for adding your comments and question to this online retreat. Diversity, sometimes called diversity and inclusion, or diversity and equity, is a global professional field, not limited to the Bay Area, U.S. or to the United States. An open source document giving diversity benchmarks for organizations worldwide is available at and there is a great deal of literature and material in various media also available. Another source of information about the scope of the field in the U.S. alone would be

I Googled "underrepresented groups" to answer your question and got this excellent definition from the Scottish Funding Council: " Groups that have participation rates significantly below the national average for the cohort under consideration. Examples of such groups may be people from low-income backgrounds, lower socio-economic groups, low participation neighbourhoods, certain minority ethnic groups or disabled people. "

Hope this is helpful.

Margarita Loinaz's picture

Dear Mushim - Thank you for providing this retreat and the skillful way you delineate our predicament. Your clarity, practical suggestions, humor and warmth feel so healing. Please keep it going, we need ongoing teachings and opportunities to hear and understand each other.
Margarita Loinaz

Mushim's picture

Hi Margarita - You are a well-respected Dharma teacher who provides "ongoing teachings and opportunities to hear and understand each other," and you have done so for many years! I bow to you. And I have wonderful memories of being invited to teach with you and Marlene Jones in the Women of Color meditation group that the two of you founded quite a long time ago, here in Northern California. That group was so important to many women, and has been written about in "Making the Invisible Visible: Healing Racism in Our Buddhist Communities." May our paths continue to intertwine!

mruybalid's picture

I want to thank you for this retreat and add another view of EBMC.
Suffering: Obstacle or Tool?
When I read the First Noble Truth, “Everybody, everywhere suffers,” I did not think I could go further in Buddhism because I felt that this truth trivialized suffering. I thought it meant that everybody suffered the same. I felt that the mother of a starving Somali child suffered more than a Caucasian businessman in Chicago. However, for years I read a lot on Buddhism, particularly books by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had tried to get more into meditating but had never succeeded for longer than a month.
When, in Thanksgiving 2009, Demetra, a friend and attendant, invited me to a retreat at Spirit Rock I gladly accepted. We both understood that she would provide the support that I would need. I live with cerebral palsy. After visiting the grounds, we were both surprised to receive an e-mail that stated I could not participate in the retreat because I was “too disabled.” After contacting my old friend Ruth King and explaining the situation, I was allowed into the retreat.
At the retreat I met with a small group and a teacher. I asked whether the First Noble Truth meant people suffered equally. When she answered that the mother of the starving Somali child suffered more, the door opened for me to start exploring Buddhism more actively.
One Friday evening in December 2009, I rode into East Bay Meditation Center in my electric wheelchair and met Charlie Johnson. I immediately felt a connection to the older warm-hearted Black man. I felt happy as a multi-racial woman to encounter a Buddhist teacher in the US who wasn’t White.
The following Spring I started meditating every morning and taking one-day workshops and evening classes at EBMC. Mushim Ikeda-Nash impressed me with her wisdom and gentleness. I felt I could approach her and ask for one-to-one time. I meet with her occasionally at a café near my apartment. I value building a relationship with a woman of color who can understand from where I come.
On June 15th, 2010, I went to a day-long called Inspiration Through the Body’s Limitations. I felt glad for the opportunity to spend a day with Charlie Johnson and other people who dealt with disabilities. That day I met Debra Kerr. Both she and Charlie have physical limitations and Debra works as a speech therapist. I felt excited to find out that cerebral palsy could be part of my path into the Dharma.
Debra lives with a neurological problem that affects her walking. It seems to be variable. I also struggle with the variability of cerebral palsy. On days when I’m rested and relaxed I can do a lot more than on days when I’m tired or tense. I felt happy and less isolated talking with other people who accept me with my disability.
Debra and Charlie led three more day-longs and a group coalesced. We all wanted to meet regularly. In May 2011, the group started meeting on Sunday nights. We start with a period of meditation, then a check in and then a short Dharma talk. I feel at home with that group and I am slowly building relationships.
On October 23rd, 2011, Debra and Mushim gave a day-long on Working With Pain. To be taught by two women that I love was a real bonus. I began to see that, in Buddhism, everything, even pain and disability, could be useful on our path. I had been a committed Christian but found that it did not accept all of me, especially my cerebral palsy. In Buddhism we meet suffering head on and can choose to use it for connection and growth.
In the fall of 2011, Larry Yang, a teacher at EBMC, announced that he was giving a yearlong program called Commit to Dharma for a third time. I applied and I felt surprised to be accepted as there were a litited number of slots. I started the program on January 22nd, 2012.
We meet as a group once a month, do readings and journaling, and meet with DharmaBuddies once or twice a month. I find the encounters with my Dharma buddies challenging as I tend to be a loner. We also get to meet one-to-one with Larry Yang once every three months which I find quite helpful as I learn more about myself and others.
I completed the program. I continue to be connect to EBMC and my DharmaBuddies as I grow.
So the First Noble Truth that everyone suffers began as an obstacle and became a tool in my path as I grow in the Dharma.

Mushim's picture

A deep bow to you, Mariana, for sharing this account of your practice with the First Noble Truth. Thank you for bringing your experience and skills as a social justice activist and as an artist to the East Bay Meditation Center's Sangha, and helping to build real refuge for so many others.
You have given us so many teachings in your post, above, and I appreciate all of them. And I agree with you that the turning point comes when we see our suffering transform from being an obstacle into being a useful tool toward awakening. Another way of saying it is that we suddenly glimpse what seems to be "the barrier" (a solid stone wall) as a Dharma gateway that might be extremely tough to pass through, but is possible to go through if we don't keep trying to avoid it. Whew -- hard work, sometimes, and yet there can be new friends, great joy, and liberating insights as a result of going forward. There could even be tea and scones along the way, as in our meetings at your local cafe!
Thank you for being such a strong practitioner in our Sangha at East Bay Meditation Center for so many years.

idaleung1's picture

Dear Mushim, thank you for offering this very important retreat. I grew up in
oakland and am always cheered when I see phenomenal things coming out of Oakland.

Mushim's picture

It's great to hear your voice in this forum; thank you for such kind words. And, as far as Oakland, California goes -- YES! EBMC's board member Konda Mason is the founder of one of the most amazing new projects ever, HUB Oakland ( ). They recently hosted a visit from and presentations by Van Jones. And more and more and more .... check out their Website. Have you been back home recently? A section of the former downtown has been renamed "Uptown" and is being vigorously redeveloped into a nightlife area with jazz and other types of live music, restaurants, theater. Of course, along with the positive foot traffic and cash flow and cultural benefits this development brings, there is also a downside of gentrification. But as far as I can see, Oakland overall is just as full of social activism as it ever has been -- and, embracing the whole of the city, full of varied neighborhoods, organizations, churches, schools, businesses, people! As you can tell, I'm a big fan of Oakland, and I say this with a lot of knowledge of this city's problems, also.

East Bay Meditation Center is very much a part of downtown Oakland's diverse scene.

Venerable Suhita Dharma's picture

I feel this is a great need to talk about our Sanghas America is. the only place where people of color has a problem with Caucasian people in their centers. I feel they need to rethink their practice and go more deeply in their meditations, Buddhism is open to all regardless of their race or color. Now! is the time to talk openly about compassion and lovingkindness toward all beings. following the way of the Buddha is a wonderful gem and we should try to follow the teachings,study them so we can all reach our goals. a healthy mind and a free heart open to all.

Mushim's picture

Dear Venerable, thank you so much for pointing to how wide open Buddha's Way is meant to be -- as you say, "open to all regardless of their race or color." Yes, the United States has had several hundred years of history that is filled with racial violence, tension and discrimination, starting with the genocide of indigenous people and continuing non-stop up to the recent Zimmerman trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. There has been so much suffering. I am grateful for your practice as a leader in the U.S. Sangha, as a Mahathera in the Sri Lankan Sangha, and a senior bhikkhu in other Sanghas worldwide, in urging us to begin dialogues and conversations in which, as you say, we can try "to talk openly about compassion and lovingkindness toward all beings." A deep bow for the human rights work that the large temple where you reside in San Gabriel, California is engaged in. It is much needed.

Venerable Suhita Dharma's picture

I feel this is a great need to talk about our Sanghas America is. the only place where people of color has a problem with Caucasian people in their centers. I feel they need to rethink their practice and go more deeply in their meditations, Buddhism is open to all regardless of their race or color. Now! is the time to talk openly about compassion and lovingkindness toward all beings. following the way of the Buddha is a wonderful gem and we should try to follow the teachings,study them so we can all reach our goals. a healthy mind and a free heart open to all.

Sage's picture

A Bow to you, Dear Mushim.

For me, the title, "Real Refuge" is such a powerful and inviting title for this retreat. It speaks to my heart and soul in both its simplicity and its directness. This is because I have gotten to a place in my practice where I can no longer take real refuge in a sangha (or anything really) that is not welcoming of those parts of me or others that society at large often desires to push away in some subtle or not so subtle way. This, for me, in fact becomes an experience of false refuge or even nonexistent refuge. And why would I desire to take false refuge or nonexistent refuge in anything? Mind you, I do not need a perfect sangha. I do however, desire to have a sangha that is willing to ask some of the hard questions that present themselves in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and intersectionality.

I have participated in communities and organizations both secular and spiritual that have sincerely defined inclusivity as having been, for all intents and purposes achieved, because there had been a spaciously viewed decision to allow both males and females in the organization. All other definitions of diversity or inclusivity were considered unnecessary or even verboten.Yes, even in 21st century Northern California! Shocking but true. In those specific cases those who were not in the room were indeed truly invisible yet at the same time, their screams were deafening.

"I became a monk because I wanted to learn about the world."

And so it is! Ase!

A Bow!

Mushim's picture

Thank you for pointing to the importance of intersectionality as part of diversity and inclusion initiatives, Sage. It's always been my experience, spiritually and politically, that I don't want others to place me in one box or another -- thus cutting off vital elements of the complex, mysterious and sometimes playful ways that identity operates. When my son, who was raised as a Buddhist, was a little kid he once suddenly said emphatically, "I'm not a Buddha and I'm not Buddhist." I said, "OK, then what are you?" He said, decisively: "Anything." I am inspired to see you and others claiming your wholeness in all of the ways your life has manifested since your birth!
And I am touched and saddened by your account of the "deafening screams" of the unseen and unheard in the instance you describe. Often, as you know, change is incremental, or forward one step, back two steps, forward two steps, one step to the side, and I hope that there has been a journey for the communities and organizations you refer to toward increased diversity awareness and maturity.
Thank you for really hearing the quotation from that long ago encounter with the Chinese bhikkhu in San Francisco! If he's still alive, I hope he feels some of our energy of appreciation and love coming his way. I was Skyping with Ven. Suhita Dharma this morning; he is in his seventies and ordained as a Trappist monk when he was fourteen, then became the first African American Buddhist monk, so he has been living the holy life his entire lifetime, traveling the world. I told him what the monk in Chinatown SF had said and Bhante Suhita said, "Yes, of course, that's the POINT!" (i.e., learning about the world).

ktshorb's picture

This is a particularly powerful conversation to have, many thanks to creating the space for it. I appreciate how your words leave room for looking at diversity beyond race and ethnicity. I also appreciate the oft-times enormity of finding diversity in our Sanghas. When it comes to race, for example, for so many people of color, finding liberation requires a simple acknowledgment that racism exists, and that it is a particularly massive source of dukkha, much like many other forms of systemic prejudice. When my partner and I attend local Sanghas, one of the first things we discuss afterwards is who wasn't there, particularly in terms of race, ethnicity, gender presentation, and perceived sexual identity. The times when we have attended Sanghas with diverse people of color were generally at people of color sits--including at the East Bay Meditation Center.

While part of me wishes I could "just sit" in any Sangha, I have acute needs to sit with other people of color. One reason is because I have witnessed what I perceive as race-motivated micro-aggressions in some "general" Sanghas, and trying to sit in fear of that type of interaction feels like too much "heavy lifting." I work toward finding compassion while also recognizing anger and resentment that has accumulated for decades--but this feels like advanced practice. The other reason I sit with other people of color is to de-naturalize racism. In people of color contexts, I find myself noticing my own internalized racism and the unfortunately inevitable deep racisms I hold toward other people of color. These attitudes are more difficult to notice while I'm out in the world, engaging in defensive emotional tactics in anticipation of racially-motivated micro-aggressions. But in people of color Sanghas, I find clear refuge that enables me to deeply examine many of these defensive tactics through lighter-but-still-profound lifting, it allows me to see how these defensive tactics relate to my own conditioned racism, and that allows me to encounter the world with better direction of where I might search for liberation.

I believe that each time I sit in such a context, I come closer to a place where I can attend "general" sits without the defensiveness, and where I can truly pursue liberation for all beings.

Your homework of noticing who isn't in the Sangha is useful in this context, as it shows who may be missing an opportunity for liberation. There are times for "heavy lifting" and there are times for profound lifting. We must work to making our Sanghas places where we can practice both with openness and curiosity.

Mushim's picture

This is an extraordinarily generous and deep description of your experience as a Dharma practitioner and person of color in the U.S., kt. Thank you for entering this Tricycle online retreat discussion space with transparency and wisdom. I love what you say about "heavy lifting" and "profound lifting" as Sangha practices that must be done, in a sustainable way, for collective awakening to occur.

For folks joining this discussion who may not have seen the term "micro-aggressions" (and related terms), here's a link to a good article, . In this article, Dr. Derald Wing Sue is quoted: "My hope is to make the invisible visible," he says. "Microaggressions hold their power because they are invisible, and therefore they don't allow us to see that our actions and attitudes may be discriminatory."

kimberlya's picture

Dear Mushim — I'm so happy to see you here. I love the homework exercise. I did the exercise by imagining all the sanghas in my area where I don't feel at home. You might have gotten a sense of this, since you know me, but my sangha consists primarily of my partnership (which gives both her and me plenty to practice with :)), and spiritual friends with whom I'm lucky to share retreat space once or twice a year but live far away.

We've visited sanghas where we live and we've tried to gather a sitting group together. In both cases, the challenge seems to be finding the time, resources, and collaborators to create sangha space that has a welcoming and open sensibility (and keeps going). There are one or two local sanghas with some diverse members that seem a bit closed. For those people who click with those sanghas, there's the advantage of stability.

At any rate, I cherish the many affiliations I have as an large, informal kind of sangha. It's generally OK that most of my sangha is virtual and long-distance — that's an experience I share with my partner, as queer, diasporic people of color who like to make art some people have called weird.

I thank you for your work on making openings for many people to walk through the many dharma doors.

I appreciate your reflections on your volunteering with the Oakland public schools and your travels throughout North America to visit sanghas. From those reflections, I get a sense that we don't have to imagine *abstract* card-carrying members of diverse groups who aren't present in our sanghas; we just have to imagine the people who are in our lives outside of our sanghas coming through the door. So I'll just close with this riff on your homework exercise: Notice people around you in a place where you're moderately busy with errands or irritations — traffic, doctor's waiting room, bus stop, fast food line, government office, your breakroom, Jehovah's Witnesses ringing your doorbell, etc — and imagine those people sitting on the mat next to you. What opens up? What closes down?

Thanks, Mushim! — Kimberly A.

Mushim's picture

Hello Kimberly, and thank you for such a valuable contribution to this discussion. I'm really glad that you and your partner, as outstanding contemporary artists, and queer, diasporic people of color, have made the effort and have successfully connected to Sangha that is, as you say, both virtual and long-distance as well as at home. The power of creativity knows no boundaries, and these days, Internet-based technologies can connect innovative folks regardless of where they live. I am grateful to you and your partner for building community in the ways you describe.
And you are, in my book, 150% right when you describe how available it is to all of us to imagine, not abstract people, but real people who are all around us, entering our Sanghas. Your question is deep and penetrating -- that when we play this scenario in our mind's eye, to notice, inside ourselves, what opens up and what closes down. Thank you for adding another great "homework" exercise here.

cc200011's picture

Many thanks for this very interesting topic. In Eastern Washington state where I'm located we have many interested folks of great diversity but they do not stay with a group I am currently a member of. You gave me many insights into what my role might be in this is and what the group as a whole may be missing out on. Much very good food for reflection to try to increase the welcome.
Much metta, with palms together, Connie Corson Spokane, WA

Mushim's picture

I very much appreciate your forthrightness, Connie. You have really grasped the essence of this: Farther on in this series of four talks, I'll return to the Chinese monk in the temple in San Francisco. I was so moved when he said, "I became a monk because I wanted to learn about the world." He is my role model in the practice, because I, too want to learn about the world, not by traveling to faraway places, but by staying here and learning how to make my mind more open, more inclusive, and more able to recognize and see more people as they wish to be seen, to hear them as they wish to be heard. There is so much of the world right here -- but often buried under and then silenced by our well-meaning assumptions. The good news is, we can learn new ways of being that invite others to reveal rather than to conceal, within a safe harbor of a community that knows how to listen, to validate, and to learn from each other's different views, different cultures, and different life experiences. It's actually pretty simple if we ask ourselves, "Will I learn more from being with people who are different from me -- knowing that listening to someone isn't necessarily the same as agreeing with them -- or from people who are very much like me?" It is challenging and uncomfortable to be with difference, yet rich with learning and growth. And there are so many unexpected pleasures and joys in diversity. Thank you for your intention to "increase the welcome," and for your beautiful metta.

ravasb's picture

Thank you so much for giving us the language to confront these issues in a helpful and skillful way. Very often I have an intuitive sense of what you are discussing, but did not have the right words to share with others when talking about situations that are potentially very divisive and threatening. Our greatest fear might be that of the other. You are helping us understand that the other is us.

Mushim's picture

You are very welcome, and thank you for pointing to such important aspects of our human experience of difference: the importance of continuing to develop skillful communication in how to acknowledge and hold difference or perceived difference, and the importance of mindful awareness when a fear that an individual or a group is "The Other" arises.

David Gould's picture

Mushim thank you for encouraging us to be curious about the world and the other, and to challenge our own limited vision. There are so many layers of "under-representation". Male trauma survivors. Now that is a hard T shirt to put on, but there are plenty out there. Spiritual seekers, trying to swim against the karmic reactions of spiritual abuse and their own history, trying to find their home and refuge in the Dharma. The lonely, seeking community and sangha. What we present on the surface can be like an onion, and the layers, and the hue and color of what we actually are can be far more than we see with the eye. So thank you for presenting something that is truly useful, whether at East Bay Meditation Center, or around the world in Hobart, Tasmania, where my own sangha, Chag-tong Cheng-tong are still trying to get the money for a retreat centre and for our own base.

Mushim's picture

You have beautifully brought forward into the light more of the spiritual seekers who are searching for Real Refuge, David. Thank you, and a deep bow. And yes, some of those "T shirts" are very, very hard to wear. I am always inspired by the courage that countless people show in looking at painful dimensions of their experience, including collective and inter-generational trauma that is transmitted within families and some entire populations.

It would be wonderful to hear more about your Sangha in Hobart, Tasmania, and I wish all of you well in building a safe and welcoming place of spiritual practice as you fundraise for a more permanent home.

Lee lipp's picture

I am delighted that Tricycle invited Mushim to talk about Seeing the Unseen. As one of the founding members of East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) Mushim has joined with many others to offer vital, alive, and truly diverse Sangha events and classes. All that is offered at EBMC is for donation. There is no charge for any event and in this way those who might not be able to come if dollars were involved are able to be included.

When EBMC opened their first location, I noticed that an office window that overlooked the event room didn't have a curtain. I asked Mushim if they were planning to get a window covering and her reply was, we don't have the funds to get one. This simple experience helped me to see that I had come a ways from having being brought up in a working class poor family and had forgotten that curtains are a luxury for some. Her pointing out that the curtains were not there because of lack of funds helped me see the unseen. The unseen from my privileged white POV. Embarrassing, painful and necessary to see. Seeing the unseen is the work of the white ally. And as I engage in this practice over and over I see much more. This is what Mushim and others at EBMC are inviting us to do. Thank you dear Mushim.

Mushim's picture

Thank you, Lee, for describing your experience so vividly -- and for then generously donating funds to purchase a window covering! A wonderful volunteer then came to measure the window, choose and order a suitable window dressing, and then one of our board members brought some tools and installed it. When a spiritual community brings together many people to build and beautify and maintain their own space, it's not the most "efficient" or "professional" way to do things, but it produces such a warm and homelike feeling. My own original Zen training was strictly "DIY" -- Do It Yourself -- style, and my original Zen teacher used to joke and say, "If a Zen student is not a carpenter when they come to me, they will be a carpenter when they leave me." Those of us who didn't have the skills to be carpenters were construction labor assistants. I was pretty good at hauling drywall and stapling insulation, back in the day!

macbabe's picture

I see so many parallels to homilies from pioneer tales from all over the world, really. This one could have been titled "Many Hands Make Light Work". Such a blessing!

Dale (near Chicago, IL)

rev.jiko's picture

"Real Refuge" was a delight to watch. I enjoyed meeting John Ellis, the videographer, and seeing him step into the frame. This reminded me to make a conscious effort to include and acknowledge the many individuals who work behind the scenes at my temple day after day. Thank you, Mushim, for helping me expand my field of vision and look for who's there, as well as for who's not there and why.

Mushim's picture

You're welcome, Reverend Jiko. I'm so happy this brought you delight and directed your attention (further) to people who are "behind the scenes," so to speak. When my son was little, I tutored children in the Oakland public school he attended. One of my students was a fourth grader who was a warm, loving child who was reading at about first or second grade level. One morning he showed up and his reading was so much better than usual that I said, "Wow, you're doing great!" He patted his stomach and said, with great satisfaction, "This morning I had eggs and bacon and toast and jam." His parents were separated, and although they had enough money for groceries, sometimes he got caught "in transit" between the two homes and they didn't feed him breakfast. On those mornings, his reading took a nose dive. The difference was so dramatic that I began bringing granola bars with me in case he hadn't had breakfast. So when I'm doing well and I feel good, I often reflect, "This is because I had a nourishing meal and my brain is working very well right now, and I knew how to cook it because my mom taught me, and I bought the groceries with donations that Dharma students generously gave me." Suddenly there are so many people (and things) that were "outside the frame" that come clearly into view, the room gets crowded! LOL. I am grateful to that fourth grader, who is now a young adult, for showing me how his reading ability was directly related to what was "outside the frame."

Simplicity's picture

This was very thought provoking Mushin. Thanks for such a clear presentation and I will definitely be looking closer this week for what is unseen. I look forward to next week.

Again many thanks.

Mushim's picture

I am encouraged and inspired to hear that you are taking up the practice of seeing the unseen. If you have any insights that arise from this that you would be generous enough to share with us here (I'm acknowledging that this is a public forum, and such insights can be personal and private), I very much look forward to "seeing" you again in this comment stream!

rio.bellon's picture

Just joined Tricycle & watched this video first. Very nice. Clear. Well presented. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Mushim. The basic questions asked here are ones I often ask myself. Truly ... it is a difficult discussion to take up so THANK YOU, Mushim. Thank you for taking up this topic and presenting it as a Dharma practice. Now it's on to my homework for the next session!

Mushim's picture

Thank you for acknowledging the difficult and sensitive nature of this discussion -- and for being part of its richness and rewards as well! I hope you enjoy doing the homework and please feel invited to share some of your insights from the process of reflection and perhaps journaling on "who's in the room and who's not in the room," -- with at least one other Dharma friend. It can feel so counterintuitive to be practicing looking around to see who *isn't* in any given setting, yet that is often the easiest way to have the initial "aha!" moment regarding access and culturally defined spaces. And although such "aha!" moments might be painful, they can also be energizing and positive, containing so much richness and depth of learning. That's been my experience -- I look forward to hearing more of yours!

Reinand Ortiz Feliciano's picture

Tnanks for the wise suggestion to look for that which is not obviously seen. Many times we may miss wonderful opportunities because we go with what is obvious and fail to explore is readily unseen or potentially available. Thanks for the reminder, from now on I will make it my business to search for the hidden treasures.

Mushim's picture

Reinand Ortiz, I'm appreciating your reminder not to miss out on "wonderful opportunities" and "hidden treasures." As human beings, we are often taught to bond with one another through perceived commonalities and similarities, and difference or perceived difference can feel divisive and threatening, so it is downplayed or ignored and made invisible. I love that you point to the existence of "hidden treasures" -- as we discover and uncover our diversity of human experience and learn to value and learn from it, the Third Jewel of Sangha can really shine!

Richard Fidler's picture

I like the way you referred to your target audience as "underrepresented" groups as opposed to "persons of color." That latter phrase reeks of racism: Wouldn't it be odd to refer to "persons without epicanthic eye folds" or "persons with epicanthic eye folds" to separate Asians from all other races? Taking one race and separating it from all others for purposes good or bad is essentially racist.

I also like the way you aim at including the young, the overweight, the very old, those who are sick,and those with disabilities. We could add more: the mentally ill, the mentally challenged, prisoners and ex-prisoners, sex offenders, trans, gay, and bi's, and children. The point is to be open to all. Thanks for bringing up this important issue.

Anicca1956's picture

I also have always felt a hurt reaction to the term "persons of color" because, I guess, I am not one. Another group to be excluded from. "Underrepresented" feels much more kind and open to everyone. I think we all feel disconnected enough from others and yearn to be connected.

Mushim's picture

Yes, that vital connection is so important -- important and life sustaining! Thank you for adding to our discussion.

Mushim's picture

Thank you for contributing these encouraging words about inclusivity to this discussion, Richard. At East Bay Meditation Center, we strive to serve underrepresented groups and communities, and to keep learning and growing in how to be a truly multicultural Sangha.

bonduran's picture

WOW.. Thanks so much Mushim and Tricycle for this important retreat! Our People of Color and Allies Sangha in Seattle WA will participate in this wonderful event. Mushim is a wonderful teacher!
Much gratitude
Bonnie Duran

Mushim's picture

Thanks, Bonnie -- and a shoutout to your POCA Sangha in Washington state for the wonderful Dharma work you're all doing there!