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The Nature of Contemporary Awakening and the Transformation of Racism
2022-04-04 The Nature of Contemporary Awakening and the Transformation of Racism 1:13:51
Donald Rothberg
On this 54th anniversary of the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 55th anniversary of his talk, "Beyond Vietnam," at the Riverside Church in New York, we explore the nature of Buddhist practice to transform racism, in the context of examining the nature of awakening in the contemporary world. We start by asking whether we may be undergoing a kind of "Fourth Turning," in which there is emerging an expanded contemporary sense of awakening, which includes the transformation of forms greed, hatred, and delusion not explicitly identified in the traditional understanding of awakening. Answering the question affirmatively, we point to two broad areas of ignorance, related to psychological material, and to social conditioning and institutions. On this basis, we then use the traditional Buddhist framework of training in wisdom, meditation, and ethics (and action) to give a preliminary account of a Buddhist approach to transforming racism. From a wisdom perspective, we look particularly at the Buddha's response to the caste system, and his sense of caste divisions as arbitrary (and empty) constructions, followed by looking closely at the constructions of whiteness, blackness, and race in the colonies in the 17th century, linked with greed and the strategy of divide-and-conquer, which have been central to maintaining racism since then. We then look more briefly at the nature of meditative and ethical training in the transformation of racism. A discussion period follows the talk.
Louisville Vipassana Community

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