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Spirit Rock Stands with Asian and Pacific Islander communities against hate and violence

Spirit Rock Stands with Asian and Pacific Islander communities against hate and violence

January 27, 2022

This statement was originally written in response to the violence of the March 16, 2021 Atlanta shootings, which took the lives of eight people, including six women of Asian descent. It has been revised following the tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California, with the sad knowledge that this kind of violence will continue to erupt until the underlying conditions of fear, hatred, poverty, and racism are more deeply addressed in our country.

We hold in our hearts the families and communities of all those harmed by violence and hatred in this country. We offer this specific reflection for our Asian community in honor of the debt of gratitude we hold for the cultures that preserved the teachings of the Buddha for 25 centuries and have welcomed practitioners from around the world to cultivate this profound path.

Our community continues to bear witness to violence against people of Asian heritage in the United States, part of the deep and heartbreaking cycle of violence that is so prominent in American life now. As students of the Dharma, dedicated to the study and practice of interdependence, we stand with people of Asian descent and all beings struggling against systemic oppression. We understand compassion and solidarity, along with wise action of many kinds, to be vital expressions of the path of liberation.

Racist violence against people of Asian descent has been part of American history since the first Asians arrived here, many bringing Buddhism with them. From the 1875 Page Act excluding Chinese women from entry to the U.S., to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, Asian immigrants have fought for safety and basic rights in the U.S. for generations.

In recent years, we’ve seen targeting and scapegoating of Asian people from the highest levels of government, and hate crimes against Asians increased dramatically during the Coronavirus pandemic. We hold all Asian and Pacific Islander people here and worldwide in our hearts, offering the prayer at the root of lovingkindness (mettā) practice: may all beings be safe from harm

As a multicultural Buddhist center, we are forever indebted to our Asian teachers and lineage holders, and grateful beyond words for the long dedication of many Asian cultures in preserving the teachings and practices of the Buddha and his disciples. We have a special responsibility to Southeast Asian Buddhist cultures particularly as the stewards of the Theravāda lineage that is the basis of Insight Meditation. And we hold in our hearts Spirit Rock’s practitioners, staff, teachers, and Board members of Asian descent as they experience the ongoing harm of anti-Asian bias in unique ways.

The Dharma directs us to investigate suffering and its causes, and we know that complex forces and conditions are at play in painful events such as these. We understand conditioned experience to be both internal and external, and that it includes intersectional systemic conditions such as racism, misogyny, classism, and white supremacy. We are reminded of the instructions of the Buddha to “live without hate among those who hate,” and we endeavor anew to bring compassion and clear seeing to a world that can seem so filled with violence. 

May our practice be for the benefit of all beings, and may we work together toward a world free from hate, gun violence, and the ongoing trauma of racialized harm.



History of Racism Against Asians in the U.S.

How to take action

Buddhist Perspectives

Statements by Other Organizations

Many of our sibling Buddhist organizations have also written statements that express important aspects of the issue. Honoring the diversity of thought and expressions of allyship in American Buddhism, here are links to a few we find illuminating.

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