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Reflections on “What’s Up with Engaged Buddhism? Who gets to speak?” – a Buddhist Peace Fellowship evening at the Oakland Peace Center with panelists Alka Arora, Katie Loncke, Donald Rothberg, and David Loy, moderated by Jen-Mei Wu and featuring visual artist Kenji Liu, May 20, 2012

Right at the get-go, the Baby Boomer generation socially engaged Buddhist expert white guys on the panel were intolerable. All four Buddhist Peace Fellowship event panelists, the two men plus two younger women of color, were seated on chairs on a stage, along with the facilitator, who was a person of color. There were maybe 35 – 40 people in the audience, looking up at the panelists, who had just been given the first question by the facilitator. The white men spoke assertively and with authority, cutting off the women and even interrupting one another. One even noted smugly, when another panelist tried to speak up, that he had the microphone. Since the people on the stage were lined up like ducks in a row, they couldn’t make eye contact with one another. The facilitator was oddly passive and did nothing to intervene.

James Shaheen, Editor & Publisher of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review writes: Buddhism in the West is a dynamic and multifaceted project, but it is often seen, including by Buddhists, in terms of simple categories and stereotypes. For all its positive contributions, Buddhist publishing has done more than a little to reinforce these errors. Tricycle is no exception. We have, though, seen in recent years, largely through the participation of our online community, that much of the standard thinking about who practices Buddhism and how they practice is quite stale and needs dismantling.

Readers of the magazine may have noticed that we have been taking steps toward that end. Here is another. We have reached out to three members of the Tricycle community who in some way or ways—ethnicity, geographic region, health issues, age—don’t fit the image of a Western Buddhist put forth in the popular press or, for that matter, in the Buddhist press. We asked them to lift a corner to reveal parts of the Buddhist experience that often are hidden. Hearing their stories, we can better appreciate the richness of the community life we share.

When I arrived at Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza this morning, the day of the General Strike in my home city, Oakland, I couldn’t find the Interfaith Tent. Various faith leaders had been invited for time slots throughout the day; I was supposed to lead a Buddhist meditation at 11 a.m….

Literature-loving friends, check out the latest issue of the Kartika Review online. My story, “The Vortex: An Account of My Father’s Death in Two Parts” appears on p. 40. It contains a large vortex, my father’s corpse, Lean Cuisine in a Samsonite briefcase, identical twin funeral home guys, and the brief yet tense period in which I was the prime suspect in the potential murder of my father in rural Virgina. Could I make this shit up? No way, which is why it’s in the Creative Nonfiction section.

Kartika Review editor Jennifer Derilo writes:
Issue 10 is live and up and ready for free download.I’m creating a Virtual Issue Release Party on fb, so if you’d like to check that out, please like & join our fb page:

This gorgeously designed issue features original works by Anna Alves, Mark Canto, Lizelle Festejo, Kathleen Hellen, Patricia Y. Ikeda, Sam Katz, Dickson Lam, Kristine Joy Mallari, Melissa Sipin, Shruti Swamy, Teresa Shen Swingler, and Timothy Yu;

and author interviews with M. Evelina Galang, Ed Bok Lee, and Jean Kwok. Check it out at:
To download the full Issue 10 e-journal:

To order the print copy of Issue 10 (regular):  ($12.00; Kartika makes $4.00 profit off each sale, with 10% going to APICC).

To order the print copy of Issue 10 (full color artwork):  ($25.00; Kartika makes $1.30 profit off each sale, with 10% going to APICC).

Scroll down this Webpage to find my essay:

If you go to the May 3, 2011 entry of the Sweetcake Enso blogspot, you’ll see my story, “Man 0, Fish 1.” It’s a meditation on sunyata as a fish, a man, a flattened soda can, the Hubble telescope, a worm, and the Morton’s Salt girl. Everything that goes around, comes around….


Article link

Article published in the Buddhist journal Prapanca, June 2010, inaugural issue.