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Refuge-Liberation: A View of Belonging from Buddhist Asian America

Residential Program
Dates: Jun 17, 2022 - Jun 20, 2022

Instructor(s): Duncan Ryūken Williams

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Course Description:

Where do we find home? How do we become free together? These have been enduring questions for American Buddhists of Asian ancestry since the 1850s when the first Buddhist temples were built in the U.S. by immigrants and their descendants. Finding a place of refuge and belonging in a world often intent on exclusion. Discovering that one does not walk the path of liberation alone, but interlinked with family and communal practice. Refuge-Liberation is a workshop that brings insights from Buddhist Asian America to navigate the complexities of identity and to build an American Sangha that values multiplicity over singularity, hybridity over purity, and inclusivity over exclusivity. This workshop is oriented for those who identify as Asian American and allies, and it will consist of a hybrid format including the study of Asian American Buddhist history, interactive exercises to explore identity, and Buddhist ritual practices that enhance a sense of expansive belonging.

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.


This course will be offered on a lottery basis in order to ensure that spaces are available for a diverse student body. Registering for a lottery does not ensure a space in the program. The lottery will close at 11:59 PM US Eastern time on March 1st, and spaces will be offered March 8th. Payment will be due three days from notification of acceptance.  Click for more information about our lottery courses.

Cancellation Policy:
During the pandemic, there is a cancellation fee of $50 for all residential programs longer than two nights and $25 for weekend programs.

Covid-19 Safety Protocol:
Please review our Covid-19 Safety Protocols here: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/covid-19/.

As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming. Please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Duncan Ryūken Williams was ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest at Kotakuji Temple (Nagano, Japan) in 1993. He served as a Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2000. Currently, he is Professor in and the Chair of the USC School of Religion and Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture in Los Angeles. Previously, he held the Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at UC Berkeley and served as the Director of Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies.