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3rd Buddhism and Race Conference

Rebecca Li of Dharma Drum Retreat Center was invited again to speak at the 3rd Buddhism and Race Conference hosted by the Harvard Buddhist Community of Harvard Divinity School on March 3-5, 2017. This conference’s focus is to deepen the conversations started in the previous years when sangha leaders, activists, community members and students joined together to share justice-oriented teachings and training. The event was sold out again this year as the gathering has been found to be nourishing and crucial for community building for those determined to practice the Dharma while also engaged in social justice. Rebecca shared in the opening night panel entitled “What is the conversation?”, along with Zen teacher Rev. angel Kyodo williams, scholar and Vajrayana practitioner Dr. Jan Willis and Nichiren priest Myokei Shonin, examining how eradicating racism is very much part of Dharma practice. On March 4, in a panel entitled “The conversations we never have,” along with teachers and practitioners from Vajrayana and Insight traditions, Rebecca pointed out as an example, the invisibility of Asian American Buddhists, and some of their struggles in having to choose between their heritage and practice centers where they are a minority but which they find more relatable. The audience was deeply engaged in difficult conversations, hoping to find ways to continue the work without falling into division, hatred and despair. The day ended with the panel “Radical Dharma” where Rev. angel, Lama Rod and Greg Snyder helped the audience understand that the difficult and seemingly endless conversation is the process. and part of the practice is to persevere. They invited the audience to contribute questions they would like to ask to be addressed by all panelists in the last panel of the conference on March 5. The conference ended with a simple ceremony where all participants held hands in a big circle feeling the love and joy that moved around the circle. Many participants shared afterwards how the conference had helped their sangha work on racism and inclusivity and the committee is already hard at work on next year’s conference.