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Tonglen and Antiracism Practice

posted Sep 30, 2020, 9:06 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Sep 30, 2020, 11:13 AM ]
by Phlaurel Strand-Crawford

For several weeks now, we have been coming together to apply our training to the changes required in creating justice and cultural transformation. In this class, we study the Buddhist practice of tonglen, exploring it as both a meditation practice and an ethic we can bring to our antiracism efforts. As we grow together in awareness and capacity, we learn how to apply this practice in our intentions, relationships, and daily actions.

In a very simplified approach, the tonglen practice of sending-and-receiving can be felt as a heart-level version of the improv technique of “Yes. And...” When we allow the “Yes” to be a complete inhale of everything that is so in this moment, inclusive of every aspect of suffering as it exists, we practice the abiding compassion at the heart of tonglen. We practice really letting that in, without rushing to fix or rejecting any part of it. Then, letting this rest at center, we are free to offer what's next: “And...” Exhale. This “And” rides on the out-breath, an offering of lovingkindness & generosity, a gift freely given that can help build what is to come. Practicing this in simplicity, within our class and throughout daily life, we cultivate access to fuller presence with the cultural transformations in process. We can grow our capacities for honestly engaging with what is painful, while freeing up our agency to offer something new in the next moment, from the heart.

As we apply this ethic to our moment in history, we are finding increased resilience & tolerance for the work at hand. Letting the practice grow us, we gain tools for disrupting habits that have perpetuated structures of white supremacy within & without, and we find greater availability to the places where our own choices can make a difference.

Here is one sample exercise from our weekly suggested practices: 11-Minute Tonglen Guided Meditation

I invite you to try on this practice for a moment, a day, a week; and I would love to hear from your experience. As always, we learn together in the arts of change, and we train that we may be in Harmony with the Universe. In leading this class, my co-facilitator Welge Sensei and I offer own learning edges, trusting the growth that comes of training together. This endeavor is one layer of evolution in a many-layered conversation. Please be in touch if you'd like to join the conversation from here.
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Tonglen Guided Meditation.m4a
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Jonathan Poppele,
Sep 30, 2020, 9:06 AM