Race and Dharma:
Waking Up in the Racialized World Around You
This new 8-week online course explores how the liberating teachings of the Buddha relate to the contemporary social issue of race. The facilitating teacher team of JoAnna Hardy, Sebene Selassie, Erin Treat, and Brian Lesage examines how the dharma can be applied to cultural separation and oppression.
How can we wake up from the delusion of not seeing racism, internalized oppression and unconscious bias? How do these patterns relate to the five aggregates of experience, and what are the connections between social realities and emptiness?
The curriculum is comprised of carefully chosen content that is evenly balanced between issues of race and identity, and the dharma.
This online course offers:
Week 1: Affinity Groups
Orientation of Group Process: How we intend to explore the course material together
Wise Speech and Deep Listening: Mindful communication
Week 2: Affinity Groups
Motivation: Why explore the topic of Race and Dharma?
Suffering and the End of Suffering: Internal, external, and combined states of awareness
Week 3: Mixed Groups
The Buddha as a Social Reformer: Early buddhist reflections on cultural oppression
The Five Precepts: Agreements of non-harm, Hiri/Ottapa: Ethical reflection and intention, Absolute/Relative Reality: Two ways of understanding truth
Week 4: Affinity Groups
Identity and Social Location: Internal and external experiences of the social self
Views, Knowing and Not Knowing: Utilizing views without getting entangled
Week 5: Mixed Groups
Unconscious Bias: How the mind gets lost in stereotypes
Vedana & Form, Perception & the Five Aggregates: Fabricating, seeing, and unraveling the illusion of separation
Week 6: Affinity Groups
Cultural Appropriation: Adopting Buddhism in the West
Cultural Spiritual Bypass: Unskillfully using a spiritual practice to avoid addressing psychological, emotional, or cultural issues
Week 7: Mixed Groups
Intersectionality: Race and Class, Race and Gender
Mana; the Near Enemy of Intersectionality: Hierarchy of Suffering
Week 8: Mixed Groups:
Course Closing: How to bring what we’ve learned forward
Commitment and Attendance
This 8-week online course requires attendance at small-group meetings via video conference every week which are an integral part of the course. Every other week participants will alternate meeting with their affinity group (People of Color, White Allies) and a mixed group to discuss different social themes and relevant dharma topics. Due to the small group sizes and the sensitive nature of the topics being discussed, full group participation is necessary to cultivate a safe learning environment for course attendees.
Including the meetings and time for reviewing other materials, the required time commitment is roughly 3-4 hours per week.
- about 30 minutes of video lecture
- 75 minutes of small group meetings
- 1 hour of personal time for reading suttas, reflections, and key points
- Additional time for personal practice and digestion
Over the course of the program, participants will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the facilitating teachers for sign-up sessions of 15-30 minutes each.
Registration Process and Pre-Course Conversation
This course requires an application due to limited space. If you are accepted, we require a short (15 minutes or less) video conference with a BCBS staff member or a member of the teaching team, as an opportunity to get better acquainted with the program and ensure clarity of commitment to the course.
Program Fee, Teacher Dāna, and Scholarships
The course fee is offered at a tier scale of $175, $225, or $275, which participants may select during registration.
Please be aware, as is customary at BCBS, there will be an opportunity to offer dāna (generosity) to the teachers at the end of the program. The teachers are not compensated for their time during this course including the small group meetings and the individual sessions. Please know that your course fee does not include any support for the guiding teachers, and while the teachings are offered freely, participation in this this program includes a commitment to supporting the teachers financially at the course closing.
We are committed to making this program accessible to all. Scholarships are available if needed to help supplement the course fee, and we encourage People of Color, Young Adults, and anyone with a financial need to apply. Requests may be made directly on the application.
- December 5 – Applications open
- March 1 – Applications close
- March 7– Initial accepted group notified
- March 8 – March 26 – Interview period, payment and registration on a rolling basis. Waitlisted students are contacted during this period.
- March 29th – Course material begins
- April 2nd and 4th – First small group meetings
- May 21st and 23rd – Last small group meetings
- May 23rd – Course closes
Application Process and Criteria for Selection
Due to the need for small groups to support the intimate nature of the program, we are not always able to offer a space in the course to every applicant.
Acceptance into the program is contingent upon a short virtual conversation (approximately 5 minutes) with BCBS staff to ensure clarity of commitment and comfort level with technology.