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BOOK GROUP—Home is Here: Practicing Antiracism with the Engaged Eightfold Path

February 20, 9:30 am - 11:00 am

KCC Book Group meets the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tuesdays of the month 
9:30 to 11:00 a.m. at KCC Portland Center (No Zoom)
Everyone is welcome
Interested? Contact Cynthia@kcc.org if you have questions.
As a Vietnamese American adoptee, 1.5 generation, immigrant, cisgender female, gender-nonconforming, lesbian, Soto Zen priest, and in the late mid-years of a chronological life, I am often located by others, as I don’t always present or behave in ways people believe my social locations to be.”
Reverend Liên Shutt inspires us to move towards fulfilling the Bodhisattva Vow:
Beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.
Some tidbits from the book itself:
First Noble Truth: Harm and harming are present.
The author says, “The first Noble Truth is the hardest to be with. Mostly we spend our energy trying to ignore harm and harming in our lives...” For example, racism impacts us “whether we are people of color or white identified.” Yet how many of us talk about these experiences?
Shutt insists on our fundamental wholeness and frames “working to address oppressions” as “a reclaiming of our inherent wholeness…it’s not about what is lacking in us.” We all have Buddha nature which remains unblemished even when we are harmed or have caused harm.
The Second Noble Truth: Understand fully the causes and conditions for harm and harming. Shutt suggests, “so much of dharma practice is to learn to broaden our view so that we are looking at the context and not just the content.” “Racism is not a one-time event;…racism is a system of oppression…but conditions change.” She asks us to consider what habits and beliefs we may want to discard as we learn more.

The “Engaged Eightfold path” begins with Skillful View. For Rev. Shutt, this can include the Reduction and Dilution methods which she uses “to stay open as we look closely at our own suffering and develop wisdom about the nature of suffering.”

Imagine you receive a cancer diagnosis, or your child dies, or your beloved betrays you. Using brief periods of meditation, reciting mantras, or practicing “mindfulness while doing the dishes” gives one a small enough container to look directly at the suffering and still bear it, possibly even becoming able to see our participation in making the pain worse. This is the “reduction method”.

Conversely we can open to a larger perspective, imagining others with the same (or worse) suffering; by learning the history of racism within America, we come to see “that there are bigger forces at play, taking away some of the personal sense of shame or guilt that may come with knowing we haven’t acted from our best selves.”

Join us on February 20 to unpack these Skillful View practices.