At the first-ever gathering of Buddhist teachers of black African descent, held at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, two panels of leading Buddhist teachers took questions about what it means to be a black Buddhist in America today.
“I’m dedicated to promoting what the Buddha was dedicated to promoting, which is liberation,” says Rev. angel Kyodo Williams. The root of radical is “radix” and that means a whole or complete, and dharma of course has many different inflections, I would say, rather than interpretations, and one of those is amongst others is truth.
angel Kyodo Williams is an American writer, ordained Zen priest, and the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, published by Viking Press in 2000.
This April, Reverend angel Kyodo Williams spoke at Naropa’s Authentic Leadership Center as part of their Mindfulness in the Workplace Series. Williams has been called “the most vocal and intriguing African-American Buddhist in America.” Following are some excerpts of her talk and conversation with the audience.
“No one who has ever touched liberation could possibly want anything other than liberation for everyone,” says Rev. angel Kyodo Williams. She shares why we must each fully commit to our own path to liberation, for the benefit of all.”
How can we practice shifting anger from a destructive to a generative force? The Zen teacher, activist, and author angel Kyodo Williams describe healthy relationships to anger and the historical context of inequality for some communities. Anger is capable of pointing us back to love. It arises as a result of an offense to what we love. If we can use anger to reconnect to love, then that anger—the response that we have to injustice, pain, and suffering in the world—can be a generative force rather than a destructive one.
Western Buddhists often practice mindfulness and self-awareness. In this excerpt from Radical Dharma, Rev. angel Kyodo Williams urges us to align our practice with our actions in the world. as Gandhi offered, a piece of the truth—of Dharma. When we seek the embodiment of these truths, giving ourselves permission to be more honest, more healed, more whole, more complete—when we become radical—neither the path of solely inward-looking liberation nor the pursuit of an externalized social liberation prevails;
“I wrote Radical Dharma because I needed it. First and foremost, I needed something that would bridge the streams of liberation that were important for me. So the liberation of people of color, of Black people in particular is important to me.
“I just want people to be liberated.” John DeMont on the radical Buddhism of Rev. angel Kyodo williams.
This prophetic conversation, which Rev. angel Kyodo Williams had with Krista in 2018, is an invitation to imagine and nourish the transformative potential.
In this Soul Force Politics podcast, Rev. angel Kyodo williams gives us meaningful insight to navigate today’s political challenges by teaching us the difference between anger that is fueling versus anger that is consuming.