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Birthday Presence

August 8, 2011

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Friends, as many of you know, yesterday was my birthday. (Thanks for all the Facebook love!) Is a links list the geekiest self-gift of all time? Possibly. And here we go.

Looking forward to:

*   *   *   *   *

And grateful for the presence of:

Twenty-five feels a bit hazy so far, but I’m pluggin’ away.  To all you incredible beings, past and present, who continue to bless me with honesty, support, quotidian hangouts (love those), compassion, food, wisdom, class-struggle education, patience, quirks, meditation, music, and humor . . . thank you.

love,

katie

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cat permalink
    August 8, 2011 8:58 pm

    Oh, giirrrrrllllll! You just made my day. That link to the tricycle article about buddhism and the working class has finally laid bare something that’s been on my chest for years. It wasn’t the article, but a person’s comments. Check out what she said (amayfaire):

    “Buddhists would be much better served to open themselves to the idea that the working classes have much to teach, not just to learn.

    I came to Buddhism as a working class kid, seeking some sort of spiritual home that didn’t require me to rely on fancy clothes, or tithes, or praying to deities that seemed to have little connection to my daily life. I found Buddhism as a spiritual home that argued against all those systems that held me in. Nobody brought me Buddhism, I found it.

    Is the problem that the working class needs help finding Buddhism? I don’t think so. I think Buddhism needs help finding the working classes. We in the working classes know all about sangha, because our networks of community are integral to our survival and the survival of our families. We know all about death, and disease, and living in poverty, because we live with it each day. I think that, too often, there is an assumption that a lower income somehow correlates to a lack of intellect or spiritual engagement, as though being working class means someone has to bring “enlightenment” to “the masses” or working class folks are too attached to understand non-attachment. The working classes, however, have much to offer mainstream American Buddhism about what it means to be enlightened, about what it means to be Buddhist. For us in the working class, a spiritual life cannot depend on income, so it does not. We don’t ned a sliding scale, nor do we seek a teacher other than the ones we carry within ourselves and our communities. We are a sangha surrounded by struggle, by disease and death, by the realities of a life that requires hard work and social invisibility. And from my sangha I have learned more about being Buddhist than any experience in my life. And those lessons, those working-class lessons, are ones that could only strengthen Buddhism.”

    GENIUS! So dope.

  2. August 8, 2011 9:51 pm

    Yes! Yes. Working-class life includes so many “dharma doors.” And not just the ones folks try to access through Street Retreats or prison meditation programs, although I think those are sometimes aiming for a similar idea: namely, that spiritual teachings don’t need to be “dumbed down” for poor and working-class experience, but the teachings are themselves impoverished when they fail to learn from experiences of poverty, struggle, and oppression, and remain incapable of speaking that language.

    I’m not sure I agree, though, that working-class people “[do not] seek a teacher other than the ones we carry within ourselves and our communities.” I think the material for spiritual cultivation is rich among working-class community, and there is no need for a “savior” (especially an overeducated White Orientalist one), but the desire to learn from teachers who know “traditional” dharma (especially meditation techniques?) might also lead people to seek both within and outside “their community,” however that’s defined.

    My fear is that working-class folks who connect deeply with the dharma, who want to learn it from knowledgable and skilled teachers and share their newfound knowledge with working-class communities, might feel tremendous pressure (both social and financial, if they ever want to teach) to assimilate to a soft-voiced, multi-culti/Indophilic, middle-class-normative way of learning and expressing the teachings. And that not only sucks for them, but distorts and dulls the life and truthfulness of Buddhism as a social/spiritual practice.

    What do you think about that question? Do you think working-class communities already intrinsically have everything they need to “be Buddhist”? Do you think that transmissions from India to East Asia to the US, Europe, and Latin America tend to travel within vectors of privilege, and therefore dharma knowledge (however mistranslated or troubled) starts out concentrated in the middle-class? What do we look for in a good dharma teacher?

    loooooove you,

    katie

  3. jomo206 permalink
    August 8, 2011 11:02 pm

    wow, i am looking forward to reading the buddhism, class and marxism pieces too! thanks for sharing. i am glad i got to know you better. your honesty, patience and mindfulness is very precious!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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