One Step Closer to On Inclusion!

On Inclusion! North American Buddhist Alliance’s intrafaith gathering in Toronto, Canada on October 31st was a success!
Nearly 80 Buddhists across diverse traditions congregated to commit to inclusivity, particularly across sectarian, racial, and gender lines.

Canadian Buddhist leaders Bhante Saranapala, Bhante Mihita, Chris Ng, Lynette Monteiro and American teachers Bhante Dhammadipa, Reverend TK Nakagaki, Myokei Shonin, Ryuoh Shonin, Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Roshi Sherry Chayat and others spoke about the dismal state of Buddhist representation in the interfaith world, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions that commenced the following day. In individual remarks and group discussions, On Inclusion! presenters and participants echoed that Buddhists in North America sometimes bypass and erase aspects of cultural identity while some assume becoming fully human in all its messiness and enlightenment are the same track. They voiced the need for more mahasangha collaborations under current socio-political climate and observed that practitioners of color and women don’t always have safe enough spaces to practice though there is refuge in the present moment.

Genuine camaraderie and provocative circle conversations ensued throughout the day. And finally, the program concluded with initiatives of interest and action items, including tasking North American Buddhist Alliance to continue to organize conversations that challenge Buddhists and to call Buddhists into collective action. North America Buddhist Alliance will keep growing and eventually publishing its Buddhist equity resources, offering educational webinar series by and for Buddhists about anti-racism and anti-sexism, and planning the next North American Buddhist Summit.

North American Buddhist Alliance also immediately presented on what occurred at On Inclusion! the first week of November at the world’s largest interfaith summit where usually 10,000 faith-goers attend. NABA’s panel, Buddhist Wisdom on Social Inequity in North America, led by Venerable Lekshe, Myokei Shonin, Judith Simmer-Brown, Eleanor Pontoriero, and Reverend Guo Cheen recounted some heartfelt, heart-breaking, and inspiring stories about what occur for Buddhist women and women of color in Buddhist communities, inquired into teachings of the Buddha that alleviate the pain and roots
of explicit and implicit biases, karmic and systemic oppression, and in general, steeped roundly in a knowing compassion for self and others when confronted with the unknown while taking specific steps to help at individual and group levels.

Excerpts of materials and videos from the above programs will be posted later on NABA’s website and Youtube channel. Please contact Guo Cheen at info @ North American Buddhist Alliance .org, 253-886-6251 with any questions or feedback.