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Terrance

Hey, thanks for stopping. I was looking through Technorati and happened upon your reference to my blog. I'm glad I did. I'll be coming back here more often to check things out.

Nirodha (Bill Gray)

Hi Terrance,

It's Nirodha whose blog you just mentioned. Nice to see another Afro-Am Buddhist on the web. I need to offer some corrections about my personal info though. I'm Afro-Am also, not from the UK. I've been living here in New Zealand for about 6 years now and I moved here to escape US racism. Best move I've ever made in my life, so far. I'm originally from Virginia, about 60 miles north of DC.

Please feel free to get in touch with me, if you like, and we can have more of a chat.

May you always be happy and at ease,
Bill

chalip

Nirodha... Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the clarification. I had no idea you were from the States, but I can't say I don't understand the need to run for the border and cross the shore. I'm glad you are well and enjoying your life there.

Friendly Dragon

I am the Old Dog moderating the eGroup Black Budhists. Don't own the site, pure chance that willy nilly I service it. Appreciate your thoughtful comments re BWBB -Zen under the skin. Met Choyin at that historical Spirit Rock gathering 1993? when Joseph Jarman, Ralph Steele, Kanda Mason, Alice and Rebecca Walker, Rachel Bagby, Jan Willis, Lawrence Ellis, Angel Kyodo Williams, Gaylon Ferguson, Ruth King among other mature practitioners attended - People of Color gathering - pan buddhist. Besides Choyin, though not featured as a 'teacher' this Nobodhi seemed to be the only other Dzogchen = i.e not a monastic, but not Lay either, modern nomad ngakma/yogin. I have not read Choyin's book, though it seemed plausible, his claim that Bodhidharma who taught the Saholin monks in China the black dragon moves in Kung Fu was an African. Other independent sources also indicate this and identify the Mahasiddha, Virupa [the Ugly] as an African [garland of flowers round his head], famed for his intoxication. Legend has it he stopped the passage of the Sun. I have no reticence about claiming such a lineage. Would you? He is celebrated for Symbolic Mind transmission.
When I read Aaron MacGruder's Boondocks and he has Huey sitting ZaZen I wish he could share legends like this. There is a continuity about the grace, beauty, prowess, wisdom, generosity even of the black 'body' in service of 'others' bodhisattva slaves, athletes, warriors. Folk who 'changed the joke and slipped the yoke'. I am exploring this in Dharma Bums and Buddha Bastards = where black is symbolic of Dharmapalas = Truth Protectors. Explore the Karma of Rainbow People [where white is a color too] with all of us in the words of Vijay Prasad 'fighting Kung Fu'.
Would love to be able to create a Blog to share these noises in the blood and echos in the bones,
On what authority you may well ask.
Attended recent Conference at Smith College on theme - Women practicing Buddhism - an American Experience - with the usual 'celebrity' presenters - bell hooks and Hilda Baldoquin addressing the 'diversity' issue. There were the buddologists [scholars] who might also be practitioners, the Lay practitioners who also seem to teach [IMS] [Vipassyana] [Nicheren], and the Monastics in their bibs and robes and shaven heads, grim renunciates. Leavened by the celebrants, artists, poets, dancers = Meredith Monk, Jane Hirshfield and some joyous, daring 21 Taras of the five buddha families with mudras and mantras creating a mandala fulfilling the 4 karmas. But it was only bell hooks 'up there'. One cannot help noticing the JU BU's who dominate the scene; provide patronage, social capital - PR networks - publishing etc.
So this is the 'gruntled' 76 year old ngakma proclaiming new dharma, turning of the 4th Wheel. 1st turning Hinayana [Unicycle] 2nd turning Mahayana [Bicycle] 3rd turning Vajrayana [Tricycle as in a rickshaw] 4th turning Dzogchen [Wow Whee Wheel Chair]. Came to the path via Sufi mysticism, Gurdjieff work, the Arica training of Oscar Ichazo before auspicious meeting with great joy great beings among them HH Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche, HH Karmapa. Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche. Raindrop meets the ocean. Committed 35 years to the discipline of the nine yanas with Milarepa and Shabkar my exemplars, some 6 years in solitary retreat experiencing the 6 yogas of Naropa. Took to heart buddhadharma without credentials and Trungpa's cautionary work "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism."

Shall we talk?
Ashe and blessings.

Choyin

From Choyin Rangdrol:

Friends,

I am credited for advancing the discussion and inquiry into the Black Asiatic experience relative to the history of Buddhism. Please see the Dharma Classic section of this Summer's 2005 issue of Buddhadharma magazine for the review of my short volume book, "Black Buddha." On page 6 of Black Buddha I made the assertion that, "Despite racialized opposition, the modern scientific and anthropological view is that Buddha was undoubtedly derived from ancient African heritage, as is the rest of humanity."

I cited the BBC video, "The Origin of Man," which at the time (2000) offered a degree of certainty in my mind that made the assertion plausible. Since then, geneticists have concretely added to the mounting evidence of my assertion by tracing DNA evidence of modern humanity’s migration out of Africa via India and into the human Diaspora globally that we see today. DNA evidence offers a degree of certainty admissible in a court of law. I challenge doubters and critics to refute this evidence directly with the scientific community. Outside of a few holders on, there has been no contrary evidence offered by the Buddhist community or anyone else for that matter. The DNA evidence that supports my original assertion is masterfully portrayed in the PBS video, Journey of Man: The Story of the Human Species. Watch it for yourself, and let the facts speak directly to your heart. Outdated historical ideas of racialized nations and states (Asians, Europeans, Arabs, etc.) are mired in the same boundaries of politic, separation, and conflict we see today. We simply need to abandon such notions as we did the institution of slavery, and free ourselves to look more deeply into the timeless nature of our humanity. From the broader view of human origin, rather than racial ideas about historical nations, the truth beyond boundaries is revealed forever. We readily accept that the variety of our Buddhist traditions bases our spiritual lineages in Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, India, or Tibet, and so on. Now we must also struggle to accept in all honesty that the DNA evidence of our Human lineage ties each one of us to roots that happen to begin in Africa, this includes Buddha and Bodhidharma. As I stated in my book (Black Buddha: page 6), "By American standards, ‘one drop' of black blood makes one a black person." Therefore, even within our American consciousness of race we are still obliged to honor our historical identification of an African anywhere as being black by virtue of his or her origin from Africa, the black continent. Therefore our ‘one drop’ of DNA gives rise to a new paradigm of sameness in us all rather than the antiquated notions of nations with separate race identities, and limited views of modern history. Let's us be free of the shackles of racial separateness that has so plagued our human love and compassion for one another. We are one, and have always been. To think of one's self as haing a lineage stemming from Africa is not a curse; rather it is liberation into a truth that eradicates pigment as a point of difference.
Finally, in the words of Chancellor Williams, "All of this will call for a new kind of scholarship, a scholarship without any mission rather than the discovery of truth, and one that will not tremble with fear when that truth is contrary to what one prefers to believe." So I think, my beloved, "Old Dog moderating the eGroup Black Buddhists," there is indeed much to talk about particularly as we encounter new and precious arrivals to the Buddhist path.

The Friendlier Dragon,
Choyin
Dza Hung Bam Ho!

Zhana

It is brilliant to see this blog site up. Well done, my brother.

I am passionate about bringing the Dharma to African people and, once I am ordained, I plan to set up a Dharma centre in Africa, probably in Ghana. I will be grateful for any comments of support and advice.

I have been very disappointed in the past by comments from some Dharma practitioners of African heritage who have said things like I was being 'unrealistic' in wanting to set up a Dharma centre in Africa. I am African American but I am based in London and I feel very isolated at times.

It seems there is a difference between wanting to practise the Dharma and wanting to share the Dharma with your Black brothas and sistahs. Perhaps this is the age-old tension between practising for oneself and for all living beings?

Is anyone aware of Black Dharma practitioners on the Continent - other than Nichiren practitoners? If so, please post here. Thanks for your help.

With metta,
Zhana

chalip

Hello Zhana...
First a clarification... the author of this blog is not a brother. I'm a sister.

A good place to look for information on Dharma centers in Africa would be the Black Buddhists Yahoo! group. As for your plans to found a Dharma center in Africa, I say... "Go for it." Keep us posted.

I'm curious... What is the source of the isolation you mention? And isn't there a difference between sharing the Dharma with people of African heritage and sharing the Dharma with all living beings?

Friendly Dragon

Worthy aspirations. On blackbuddhist egroup have posted links to Dharma groups and centers in Africa [a vast continent] diverse languages and cultures and Nations. One need be practical and pragmatic. Your biggest challenge is financial - mobilizing deep pocket patrons who can support your endeavor because they share your vision. Likely to succeed if form a non profit entity, register as an NGO
to provide social service - a pre-school, primary school or some such institution run on buddhist principles though it serves everybody - in that way magnetize folk interested in learning more about building harmony in community through cooperation based on buddhist principles - work, study and meditation in action. Kokrobitey Institute in Ghana has facilities [can accommodate 60 people in a residential retreat program, has maintenance staff, transport etc] - should you wish to explore possibilities of organizing a retreat introducing buddhism and meditation practices. Test the waters, familiarize yourself with the people and culture,
Visit http://www.kokrobiteyinstitute.org
view the photo gallery and movie.
http//www.ashesi.org is another inspired endeavor, an urban university whose mission is to train leaders for the New Africa. Its students likely to resonate with vision of building an enlightened society. Good luck with this and trust auspicious connections. Dharma is not propaged by proseletizing - but by example.
Ashe with Love and Blessings.

Friendly Dragon

Religion is for Doing. This from the Spring Issue of the Radcliffe Quarterly on them 'Spiritual Journeys' Bonnie Boswell '72, award-winning TV producer, cohost of Lawson Live, a reporter for KNBC-TV La. Her inspiration was her grandfather William Yancy Bell a Methodist Bishop who delivered this axiom in an address in 1923 to the Garvey United Negro Improvement Association. She says she became a buddhist attracted by the idea that spirituality should be reflected in one's every action. Asked to cohost and produce Lawson Live a national weekly TV program she wasn't sure how James Lawson a 3rd generation Methodist minister would hit it off. "To my delight, I soon discovered that we were morally and pragmatically on the same wavelength." Viewers call in with questions or comments 'How can we get the politicians we deserve?' 'What can we do to end homelessness?' Studio guests included community leaders, academics. For Jim and me, these issues are at once, political, social, moral and eminently practical. This kind of honest, intelligent, public conversation about issues that affect the common good is rare enough. But what makes the program so special is my colleague, who firmly believes that pursuing liberty and justice for all is a spiritual matter.'

A man the LA Times has called 'anonymous hero' of the civil rights movement, Jim began the spiritual journey of nonviolent social change when he was young. He spent 14 months in federal prison for refusing to fight in the Korean War and studied the Gandhi movement in India. At their first meeting MLK jr asked Jim to go south to teach others how to lead a nonviolent campaign to end American apartheid. The demonstrations Jim led became a model of the movement. 'Our themes were justice, compassion, and nonviolence.'

Hearing Jim analyze the issues of the day is a gift, providing clear information to a public that is eager to make informed decisions. When he answers a caller's questions on the air, I find myself taking notes. Boldly and simply, he explains the relationships among racism, sexism, violence, and materialism.'

'Religions that produce hatred and don't teach people to work for the common good are not authentic,' says Jim.
'It is not something you believe in, it's something you DO.'

Can we do better as a society? On Lawson Live ! the answer is a resounding 'Yes !"

'Like my grandfather William Yancy Bell said and as James Lawson Jr argues 'We the people must make it so.'

Share this with you- we should educate ourselves become aware of our spiritual lineage.

Query: Do folk on the West Coast know of this program? Does it still air?

Ivan England

Please send an email and "enlighten" me as to any new developments in the movement of Black Buddhism in the West and abroad. I wish success to Zhana for her aspiration to start a center in Africa and would happily support any such action.

I am a Black american Buddhist searching for places to practice. Please keep me informed brothers and sisters; I would be happy to engage in any discussion, or action promoting Buddhism.

s. beasley

http://peaceinthebeast.blogspot.com/

A new blog by a young african american college student who is embracing the buddhist path.

Show some love.

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