ANGEL KYODO WILLIAMS PDFJuly 17, 2020
Rev. angel Kyodo williams. K likes. Rev. angel Kyodo williams is a maverick spiritual teacher, master trainer, outspoken activist and social. Dubbed “the most vocal and most intriguing African-American Buddhist in America,” by Library Journal, angel Kyodo williams is a maverick spiritual teacher . The latest Tweets from angel Kyodo williams (@ZenChangeAngel). toward a liberated life – radical dharma social visionary maverick spiritual teacher activist.
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And for those of us who are not monastics, she says, the world is our field of practice. To sink into conversation with her is to imagine and experience a transformative potential of this moment towards human wholeness.
And what is dying, I think, is the willingness to be in denial. And that is extraordinary. I have to face it — we have to face it. Reverend angel Kyodo williams is founder of the Center for Transformative Change. What I think is interesting about it is that on any given day in our lives, I think we might tell that story differently. And also, what I was thinking about as I was preparing to speak with you is that the spiritual background of your childhood and the religious background of your childhood can be two completely distinct things.
I would say that I had no religious life as a child except — the life which I would call my spiritual life was a relationship, particularly with Jesus Christ, through a huge King James version of the bible, a white one with gold edges on the paper. And I had a very distinct relationship with Jesus and a kind of affinity for, I guess, what I would now say is his suffering, but no belief.
Religion was something that, for me, was — it just seemed like a thing that people functioned inside of for this very limited period of time. And they seemed very concerned [ laughs ] with how they appeared inside of those religious contexts, but outside of them, they were entirely different. They could be anyone, doing anything. And so I was quite sensitive to that, the disparity, the real disconnect that I saw between who people were in their religious permutations and who they — in my mind, who they really were, how they really were.
And also, it seems that you were part of queer culture that was emergent — that seems to me that was just coming to have the nuance, really, that the word is holding fully now — early on. Say something about that. It was a word that was taunting. And so we were right at that moment in which we were choosing to reclaim our sense of identity, including the language that was meant to turn on us.
I am not Jewish; I am now Buddhist.
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Queerness gave me the language for everything I kyyodo about liberation and freedom. So, focusing on that human anxiety that was there and was going to be there, whoever had won the election, you make this wiilliams that I find so compelling and stark. And this — I just want to delve into this with you. That we have not trained ourselves to do the work that is upon us now. But without this particular place and location of a willingness to be flexible, open, soft-bellied enough to be moved by the truth of the other in whatever given situation, then it is not transformative.
But for us to transform as a society, we have to allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals. And holding that williams the core of who you are when responding to things, I think, is the way — the only way we really have forward; to not just replicate systems of oppression for the sake of our own cause.
That kind of discernment is also about knowing ourselves — uncomfortably knowing ourselves. And that is really what is most challenging for us, because we want to be known to ourselves. We want to be known to others.
I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being. Today, with Anvel priest and social visionary, angel Kyodo williams.
But sitting, as you — and what happens in sitting and in pausing is not about not acting. And those interpretations — much to our chagrin, we come to understand through a process of observing them — are not clean, or not free of all of the things that are impacting us outside. And so even our sense of what pains us and what makes us feel shame, feel guilt, feel awkwardness, feel put-upon by people, feel disempowered, has to do with the external information and cues that we have received.
And, for the most part, we almost never get the opportunity to observe them and sort through them williamx kind of like that drawer that collects everything in your house.
Actually, this is not mine. And sitting lets us begin to do that. How do I get them to stop? Sitting lets us just, first of all, recognize that we are this massive collection of thoughts and experiences and sensations that are moving at the speed of light and that we never get a chance to just be still and pause and look at them, just for what they are, and then slowly to sort out our own voice from the rest of the thoughts, emotions, williaks interpretations, the habits, the momentums that are just trying to overwhelm us at any given moment.
You jyodo listen again and share this conversation with Rev. Today, a conversation about social evolution and the spiritual aspect of social healing, with Zen priest and teacher, angel Kyodo williams. You are a teacher; you are steeped in this tradition. And yet, I also feel that you feel a calling to open the fruits of this tradition. But there is also Buddhist psychology. There is also Buddhist philosophy. And these have wisdom to offer up to the world. It was a bold statement. There was something really quite challenging in that statement.
Both; that we could do that, that we could live in grace. Yeah, but fearlessness is the really bold statement, because we are expected to not willliams fearless. And in fact, our fearlessness is dangerous and threatening. And so having people of African descent, people that identify as black, to choose fearlessness is a very, very [ laughs ] bold statement of defiance. And I remember Buddhist teachers being tentatively, or sometimes not so tentatively questioning about the idea that, in the book, I talk about warrior spirit.
And I could see their discomfort with aligning black people with the idea of warriorship. And yet, this tradition itself has this very — it should not be surprising — has this very contradiction at its core, in its American — in its Western manifestation, of having been brought to the West — as we say, imported — mostly by young Jewish people and some Christians, who were white, willias.
I think two things are happening. I think we are, in the West — and yes, primarily white folks; primarily white folks of a level of a certain amount of privilege, because one would have to be of a certain amount of privilege to go off to Asia and bring — package up teachings and bring them back — and sometimes, package up teachers and bring them back. But they also will describe anyel spiritual emptiness that they were uncovering in what they had been handed as a life.
So, they, of some amount of privilege, responded to what they needed. What williamz you name? What, for you, is in that ecosystem of practices and impulses? We almost never talk about Soka Gokkai, about chanting Buddhists. So we have chanting Buddhists, which means that, by default, the rest of Buddhists are not chanting Buddhists, which is absolutely not true. I want to, also, talk to you about love. You first got thinking about love, with bell hooks.
And I wonder how your thought on that — also, what you see in the world — is evolving right now. I think you were pointing towards it.
angel Kyodo Williams – Wikipedia
Are you reflecting back at me what I want to be reflected back at me? And if you are, and if you are enhancing my idea of myself, [ laughs ] then I love you. It is developing our own capacity for spaciousness within ourselves to allow others to be as they are — that that is love.
Kkyodo are subject oyodo an enormous amount of suffering, as well. I think that those things are missed when we shortcut talking about King, or we shortcut talking about Gandhi, or we shortcut talking about what Aung San Suu Kyi was doing at some point.
We leave out the wjlliams of their underlying motivation for moving things, and we make it about policies and advocacy, when really it is about expanding our capacity for love, as a species. This is kind of like taking kyido very wide lens and going to a big, telescopic level, as Maria Popova likes to say — a telescopic lens on the present.
But just say a little bit more about that, because I think that also is calming, in its way, for us. I think I may have glimpsed an article that I disciplined myself to not read. But we are at a time, so incredibly unique in human history, where there is a meaningful number of us that are not driven by mere survival, and we are not defined by the work that we do or the place from which we come. We are able to be transient.
We can move around places. We can create meaning out of things and ways of being and work that we choose to do. And we can recreate it, over and over again.
We can make meaning out of it, but we are not defined by it in a way that former cultures and societies that were limited in transportation and had a necessity to be able to put food on the table, and so we farmed, and so we did a whole bunch of things that were about fundamental necessities.
You just inherited identities from — all kinds of identities from your kin. We are running into the conflict between people that inhabit an inherited identity with the place that they are — coal-mining country, and the work that they do as a result of the place that they are — up against people that have values and ways of perceiving the world that have shifted because they are not identified by their place and the work that they do in the same way that location and a fixed place tells you who you are and how you be in the world.
And that conflict, and the values that come from those two disparate locations, is the conflict that we are up against right now — in this country, in particular, but also in other places in the world. This means a lot of things for us.
This means that, in terms of values, we can be more spacious. There are many of us that can afford, literally, to be OK with people that are really, really different.
In fact, we can be curious about it, because our sense of threat is diminished, because our identity is not prescribed by sameness and being afforded belonging because of sameness. If those people are not beneath me, how will I know wipliams own value? Our teachers — as much as we love our embodied teachers that come in flesh and bone and sit on cushions — are really the people, the situations that we confront moment to moment, day to day, month to month, year to year, that incite a sense of discomfort, dis-ease, awkwardness in us.
And rather than seeing those moments as threats to who we are, if we could reorient, if we could center in our relationship to ourselves as evolving, fluid, ever-expansive creatures whose role is to be in observation of: What has that inspired?
What has that called forth in me, that discomfort that is speaking to something that feels solid and fixed and is now challenged in its location?
We will be in a society that thrives and knows that the planet must thrive with us. We will be in a society that knows that no one that is suffering serves the greater community, and that no one that is suffering is not an indicator of the ways in which the society itself is suffering.
I must face this, because it is intolerable to live in any other way than a way that allows me to be in contact with my full, loving, human self. And then I felt a lot of resistance to that awareness in the last year — everybody — a lot of people, all around, digging down into the trenches.
I know the road feels low and winding, and we seem to need the pain to cut to the core to emerge from the sleepwalk of despair and feel through the numbness of disconnect and indifference.