Recognizing that the Durango Dharma Center is situated within the broader context of white-dominant, heteronormative culture, we are actively working to create a community of belonging. This requires an ongoing commitment to raise our own awareness of dominant culture while also cultivating an awareness of subdominant culture through personal reflection, feedback, and education. In 2018, the board of directors, Dharma Council and several volunteers participated in a five-day Mindful of Race retreat with Ruth King, a dharma teacher, consultant, and author of Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out. We host a teacher-led POC Sangha as well as offering classes in waking up to whiteness. Additionally, most of our leadership currently participates in racial affinity groups.
The non-discriminatory teachings of the Buddha have always been offered in response to the needs and challenges of the time. To be free from suffering individually and collectively necessitates deep inquiry into the experience of our social realities and into the systemic inequities that are so widespread in this era. As part of our journey toward liberation, we all explore the nature of identity in its various forms—race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, ability and others. At the Dharma Center, these themes are at the core of how and what we teach. To be let go of attachment to identity, we must inhabit it fully. In service of justice, we must understand reality as it is.
“Spiritual awakening arrives from our ordinary lives, our everyday struggles with each other. It may even erupt from the fear and rage that we tiptoe around. The challenges of race, sexuality, and gender are the very things that the spiritual path to awakening requires us to tend to as aspirants to peace.”
-Zenju Earthlyn Manuel