Reflection Paper

Robert “Shuken” McCarthy
April 24, 2017
MDIV 515

Reflection #12

This week’s subject is the “Being Part of the Solution.” After last week’s race counsel I am not so sure if I am capable of that. I found last week’s exercise to be a little more challenging for me, people were trying to check their privileges in the most disgusting ways possible. I was almost on the verge of visible disgust after Luke’s sharing. I am not sure what brought that on, I was just so disgusted by his self-labels that I checked out after his turn. I just have nothing to say about any of it. It’s a lose-lose situation, I really do not have anything to offer in the realm of social justice, maybe you could say that is part of my privilege, it brooks deeper examination I feel. I am not sure how to connect to the issue, I felt like everyone just provided dry empty, myself included. I imagine what ever could I say about the world that People of Color inhabit.

Hopefully this week’s readings can help me create a better understanding of what I am going through and how to be part of the solution, which I feel was what we automatically tried solving in the race council. What an exercise in futility, maybe which says something about my fellow chaplains that is immediately where they go on the discussion of race, straight to trying to solve the issues of the world. Maybe it’s telling that my mind immediately runs in the opposite direction of the rest of the cohort

Getting into the meat of this week’s readings I would like to hit on what I encountered in “Radical Dharma.” The first chapter is titled: “What the World Needs Now” by Dr. Syedullah, she starts the first part of the chapter off by quoting the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: “The Thirteenth Amendment, the Constitutional abolition of slavery in 1865, proof-positive that democracy works and is an ever-evolving, self-correcting system of consensus, justice, and deliberation. The Amendment states that ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime…’ emphasis added by author.”1 This really struck me on the macro level it made me think back to what I know of United States history.

I’ll start the macro examination by talking about the aftermath of the US Civil War, shortly after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse and the subsequent signing of the Thirteenth Amendment the United States Government embarked on the ambitious plan of connecting the East and West Coasts of the nations by rail. Such an undertaking would require massive amounts of labor, not many men in those days were willing to venture into the wild frontier of the nascent of US, filled with malevolent natives, disease, hardship, bandits, and ferocious wild animals. So large corporations like the Union Pacific, which was working its way West from St. Louis, Missouri, looking to link up with the Western Pacific Railroad somewhere in Utah, which was working its way East from San Francisco. This meant that both companies were forced to look elsewhere to fill their labor needs and considering the business ethics of the 1800s they would also seek the cheapest alternatives, the Western Pacific used Chinese

immigrants who were no better off than slaves, and the Union Pacific struck a deal with the post war carpetbagger government of the state of Georgia to secure masses of incarcerated laborers who were paid very little for their labor, and while not uniformly black the majority of those being drawn from Georgia penitentiaries just so happened to be.

The moral of the story is that the Thirteenth Amendment has a lot of weasel words in it, while these loopholes were more exploited in the late 19th and early 20th centuries today it would be much harder in terms of media coverage to subject incarcerated prisoners to hard slave labor. On a micro level I recognize the use of “weasel words” in the enslavement of certain groups of people. This is unfortunate often the history of a nation is quite clear, though from time to time it is covered by clouds, hard to parse out. Thank you reading this long rant, there was quite a bit for me to digest.

Bibliography

Johnson, Allan G., Privilege, Power and Difference, New York, NY, McGraw-Hill (2006).

Williams, Angel, Radical Dharma, Berkeley, CA, North Atlantic Press (2016).

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“Get off the hook”

 

MDIV 515: Power, Privilege, and Difference.

“Getting off the Hook”

By Pisit Maneewong

The reading of this week was related to the topic of “Getting off the Hook” which was the part of the book title “Privilege, Power, Difference,” and it was written by Allan G. Johnson. According to my reading on the Chapter 8: Getting Off the hook: Denial and Resistance.  I like what Allan G. Johnson wrote that “The fact is that we’re all on the hook because there’s no way to avoid being part of the problem. People in subordinate groups are on the hook every day. Dominant groups are, too, but they’re more likely not to know it because they have so many ways to act as though they aren’t, and privilege usually allows them to get away with it. But the more aware we are of all the ways there are to fool ourselves, the easier it is to wake up and make ourselves part of solutions.” [1] Sometimes we do not know that there is no such wall or barrier in front of us. One of the reason is fear of losing our privilege and realm which we used to be the owner and we do not want to share with others. In addition, we are full of selfish without caring other’s privilege or feeling. It seems that we have trouble with this wall day by day, no chance to walk over this barrier.

From the class last week, our class practiced the exercise of power, privilege, and difference regarding the ideas of racism, class, and gender which somehow related to the idea of ‘White Supremacy’.  During the time, I and my male classmate laid down on the floor face up and head closed to each other’s in the different directions and the women sat on the chair above us in four directions. At that moment, I felt overwhelmed in three ways of my thought, by the feeling, time pressure, and overwhelmed by how to do things ‘right’ thing at that moment. At the beginning, my feeling was normal and when the time passed by from 10-20 minutes I felt like how to do the ‘right’ thing at that moment. So, I decided to not do anything just lay down and practice my Pali chanting which I remembered at that moment. I try to use my terrorist mind to not follow the sound when I heard during I was laying down with my male classmate. I knew that I was not a good person at that moment. I did not help or use my voice to speak out when the female asked and even my male friends talked. I still continued to keep quiet and not use any voice until the last minutes of this exercise. I think my action like what Allan G. Johnson writes in his book, “But the truth is that my silence, my inaction, and especially my passive acceptance of everyday privilege that goes along with group membership are all it takes to make me just as much a part of the problem as any member of the Klan.”[2]

Anyway, from this situation, as a man I felt sad and empathy as well about this situation regarding gender. Most of the time women are hurt by men who have more power and privilege without love or compassion or without thought that is gender like their mother. I asked myself how I can help the people who live in trouble, both male and female with trouble and with this question it enriches awareness on me to the situation of difference. So, I need more choice and more chance to learn how to live together happily and harmoniously in the long-term of life without any conflict of the power, privilege, and difference especially the different gender between male and female.

I like the idea that the Buddha give an advice to the monks (Bhikkhus, Pali) how to treat the women in the proper way which appeared in the Bharadvaja Sutta. In this sutta, the Buddha once advised to the young monks that, ‘Come now, monks: with regard to women who are old enough to be your mother, establish the attitude you would have toward your mother. With regard to women who are old enough to be your sister, establish the attitude you’d have toward a sister. With regard to women who are young enough to be your daughter, establish the attitude you’d have toward a daughter.’[3] This is one reason that I should bring it and share it here.

[1] Allan G Johnson, Privilege, power, and difference. (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p.108.

[2] Allan G Johnson, Privilege, power, and difference. Ibid., p.118.

[3] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Bharadvaja Sutta: About Bharadvaja,” accessed May 19, 2017, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.127.than.html.

On the Hook

I invited a friend to the Zen Center this week. She is a female friend who is physically small with a quieter voice. It went exactly how I was afraid it would. Despite a format designed to allow everyone an opportunity to talk, the rest of the group was composed of mostly large, older, white males who talk way too much, interrupt constantly and take up all the space and time in the room. I watched my friend as the conversation never allowed her an opening to speak even when it was her allotted turn in the round. When she finally did get to speak, she was interrupted quickly by one of the men. I was embarrassed, anxious, tense, guilty, and ashamed of my sangha, ashamed of my gender. I watched this go on for a half hour and felt it as a tightness in my chest that slumped my shoulders forward and made me want to disappear into the ether. I wondered if I was overthinking it and checked my friend’s face to see if she was getting frustrated and to my relief (validating that my perception wasn’t crazy) as well as further shame and embarrassment, she was growing very visibly agitated and frustrated (which of course none of the other men noticed). She looked at me with exasperation and I finally spoke up and gently reminded the room to keep the rotation going and give space for everyone to talk. Then she was interrupted within moments of speaking and the room was off again just as it had been.

I brought this to my therapist, because what am I supposed to do!? I am “one of the good ones” as Allan Johnson points out, which I am saying with sarcasm in this paper in order to express the frustration that even when I am trying to be a good person, fully witnessing issues of power and privilege with every intention to be nothing but what the situation requires, I see no good option for behavior in the situation. I am “on the hook” as Johnson dubs it, but completely powerless. I could shout the men down and/or publicly shame them by pointing out their rudeness in the middle of the talk, but then I am fighting dominance with dominance. I am fighting bullies in the zendo with male power and the authority of position. I am reinforcing the patriarchy I am fighting. This would then make me the same as them and everyone loses. I could take them aside in private later, explain to them about protocol and gender politics and help them find their best intentions, but oh wait, I’ve done that several times and they always agree, listen, appear very concerned and excited to do better, and then immediately forget. I am the facilitator on these nights, but I don’t have the authority to change the format. Brad and the rest of the sangha (including women (who not surprisingly are an increasingly small portion of the sangha)) value spontaneity and informalness in discussion, and also the men seem to be much more polite and well behaved when Brad is around so the real authority doesn’t understand the problem. I’ve explained it, we’ve discussed and altered the format slightly, but still to no avail.

My therapist told me there is a third option that is not passivity or fighting for control. This is the same lesson that is coming up over and over again this semester for me. The only person I can work with in that moment, he told me, is myself. I have to have compassion for the person sitting there anxious and twisted in total suffering over the situation, who is me. From there, maybe compassion for everyone involved will flow, maybe even compassionate action might flow, but it would be spiritual bypassing to not go inward first. And my friend? That’s her practice, he told me. At that point it dawned on me that when she looked at me in frustration and I took that as license to finally attempt to wrangle in the room, I was doing the same thing as the other men. I was trying to control, and almost worse, I was trying to protect and save a woman who I was not allowing to address the room and situation herself. At best, looking back, I would rather have given her an understanding look and maybe a silent encouraging nod that says “whatever you’re thinking and feeling right now, do that. For the love of God let them hear what is boiling inside you.” I like this answer, but it still it reeks just a little of patriarchal control. Also though it feels a bit like supportive ally and aware facilitator, so who’s to really say? The point is I don’t know what the third option would have done because I didn’t take it. I did not sit with my own anxiety and discomfort as the practice, I was trying to take hers, and hate the men’s obliviousness, I was trying to look everywhere else except the one place I needed to look. But hey, no judgement here. Maybe a little compassion for the poor gender self aware anxiety prone male who is small enough to know full well what it’s like to be dominated your whole life by oblivious larger males but was also raised with a strong sense of leadership that demands responsibility for all situation combined with a total resentment of all authority including his own. That sounds like a rough moment for him. I think he did his best, and I’m sorry he was in that situation that perfectly combined a whole being into that level of anxiety and tension. I also think he learned some things that might help for next time.
I purposefully read Rev Williams piece immediately following Johnson, because I know her writing has triggered me in this class before. Reading about denial and resistance in Johnson, it sounds like a possibility for why that happens to some degree, so I wanted to see what her writing would feel like with that warning fresh in mind. Uncannily, I really enjoyed her piece this week. It spoke to me and the above story perfectly. She said “we create better images of who we are and we simultaneously believe worse images of who we actually are. So we create fantasies and we believe fiction. Neither of these things abide in truth. It’s easier to leave these parts aside, at least to our conscious mind, than to even begin to consider if we will be able to survive the grief of facing them. It’s easier to just claim our progressiveness, to claim our enlightened hearts and spirits or our radicalness and commitment to the struggle—so you can’t possibly be racist, or sexist, or transphobic, or think your spirituality is more real, or you’re just better—than to actually have your despair show up for you.”

What she is talking about on a purely personal level is a lot of what I was doing to the situation. I wanted to create a better image of my sangha in my mind. I couldn’t accept the reality of what it is. This is what produced the anxiety and suffering, and instead of facing that, which was the truth of the room and situation, I looked for how I could fix it, how I could be more effectively progressive enough to end the patriarchy in the room so that I wouldn’t have to accept it. I can’t get it out of my head that I still have a responsibility to address these issues somehow in awareness and action, but I know I have to accept their reality first so that all my action is not based on anxious avoidance. I’ve said that over and over in this class and I’ll keep saying it as long as it takes

Finding Compassion Amidst Shame

By Caroline Netschert

Apparently the topic of shame is “up for me” this week. It seems to work out that way—the topics we’re investigating in this class become more glaringly obvious in my life. The past few weeks it’s been self-righteousness, but the past few days it’s shifted to shame, as we explore this idea/practice of “getting off the hook.”

Today I drove to the women’s jail. There’s a woman I wanted to meet with before her court date this Thursday. I promised her I’d come see her and bring her some specific things to read, since she’s been really struggling and she’s finally starting to open up about trauma she’s experienced. We’d had a really amazing conversation two weeks ago that I’ve been replaying in my mind a lot. So I drove 40 minutes, parked in the garage and went to grab my ID out of my purse, but found out I’d left it hanging in my bedroom at home. I can’t get into the jail without my ID.

So there I am sitting in the garage, defeated, overly caffeinated, with a wave of shame and self-pity swelling from the dark pit in my stomach. I shed a sprinkling of tears and my old narrative of “how could I have been so careless? (stupid?)” chimes in. This time, however, I remember I have a choice.

I often dive straight down and pull that wave of self-pity and self-hatred over myself, wrapping it around me like a cloak of jaggedly, heavy, familiar pain…adding fuel to that fire that is so oddly comforting because it’s been the go-to “tool” for so long. But this time I paused. I start investigating and naming what I’m feeling: shame, disappointment, self-pity, fear that I’d let other people down, perfectionism…my expectation that I should never make mistakes. I think to myself, “How can I find compassion for myself in the midst of shame?” How can I “let myself off the hook?” so-to-speak?

During my 40 minutes drive home it dawned on me: somewhere in that pit of my stomach I have the belief that if I don’t self-flagellate and shame myself when I do something I think is “wrong” or “bad,” then I’m worried that I (and people around me) will think I’m not remorseful…that I’m “letting myself off the hook.” That I’ll see myself (or others will see me) as a callous person who doesn’t think about anyone else. And you know what? They might. Or they might not. And if they do, would that make it true? And what if it is true sometimes? Does that mean I’m “bad?” Underneath it all, I know I’m not. And holy shit, I’m trying and it is so effing messy and I really hate messes. I can’t control a mess and I really hate feeling like I’m not in control, which of course, I’m not. It’s the grand delusion that continue to chase, but will never obtain.

So, this time I investigated and I recognized what was going on. I breathed and then I surrendered to the simple fact that I tried to do the “right thing, but I “failed” (made a mistake), and it’s not the end of the fucking world. I got home, laughed at my purse hanging in my room, made myself lunch and put my shoes on to go to work.

Thinking about this experience in terms of how I relate to the shame I have around my power, privileges and differences, what happened today seems pretty tame in comparison. The tailspin I started to have in the parking lot, which I unpacked my way through, was essentially around forgetting my purse—an annoying, but fairly tame “offense.” So, my shame around my privilege and social role is bound to be way messier when it pops up. The question is, can I find compassion for myself when it does surface? Reverend angel Kyoto williams, Sensei questions in the reading from this week will definitely stay with me for those moments:

“What place are you not feeling?
What part of you are you rejecting?
What aspect are you not loving?
What truth are you not willing to accept?”*
____________________________________________________________________________________________
*Williams, Angel Kyodo, Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah. 2016. Radical Dharma: talking race, love, and liberation. p. 96

Reflecting feelings

I like the kind of one-to-one conversation in last class. Similarly, in our psychotherapy class, I find it feels totally different when I am talking in the group than with one person as a pair. I feel much easier to speak about personal feeling or details when taking with a single person, but when talking with the group, I tend to be more intellectual rather than speak from heart. I don’t know if it is just my shyness or it is a habit of covering when facing the public. I am more confident when speaking to only one person, but with the whole group, I still feel reluctant when speaking.

I think those questions can be use at any situations I meet with, reflecting and asking myself “What do I really feel?” and “What do I fear and resist?” Sometime the answer is pretty obvious, but I used to ignore it and choose to immerse myself in a certain circumstance and don’t want to be awake. But reminding oneself these questions can be a good way to keep the mind sober and be present. I start to intentionally reflect on my own feelings more since studying chaplaincy. I find it is quite difficult for me to identify the feeling and name it. When being asked “what do you feel?” I usually only can say “good”, or “fine”, unless I am really in a bad mood or have a strong emotion. But that kind of situations are quite rare, I think mostly I just feel nothing. I am not used to identify what I am feeling. It is like an undifferentiated chaos or potentiality, but when trying to name it, it comes to be a kind of reality that one may stick to it. It is a mental process of how the ego or “self” functions. I am not sure if it is from the Buddhist point of view or from the idea of Taoism. In this way, the Chinese are much reserved and repressed in the eyes of Western people. Apparently, This understanding have formed my personality to a great extent.

Recently I have reflected a lot on affection and relationship. These questions seemed to be far from my life when I lived in the sangha or I was too busy with the routine monastic business to consider about them. But now, I realize that many of the friends I currently meet with all have such problems in their life. It seems to be quite universal. And when they ask me my opinion and advice, I feel awkward that I indeed know few about that. I realize that I need to seek from my own experience for understanding and wisdom, which means I need to recall my memories I buried 10 or even 20 years before. I try to retrieve the softest and most tender part in my heart. I think this is the only way I can feel and understand other’s suffering on those troubles.

I find that in the Radical Dharma the author discussed a lot about “love”. She said that “Transformative, radical, interconnected, and embodied. Ways that are motivated by a deep, unwavering love of all of life, and committed to seeing that love expressed as justice.”[1] I think I may just take a step forward toward the way of cultivating real bodhicitta and compassion. And since I learn more about Vajrayana, I have contemplated more about the publication and repression of human instinct.

[1] Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2016. 197.

“Getting off the Hook”

MDIV 515: Power, Privilege, and Difference.

“Getting off the Hook”

By Pisit Maneewong

The reading of this week was related to the topic of “Getting off the Hook” which was the part of the book title “Privilege, Power, Difference,” and it was written by Allan G. Johnson. According to my reading on the Chapter 8: Getting Off the hook: Denial and Resistance.  I like what Allan G. Johnson wrote that “The fact is that we’re all on the hook because there’s no way to avoid being part of the problem. People in subordinate groups are on the hook every day. Dominant groups are, too, but they’re more likely not to know it because they have so many ways to act as though they aren’t, and privilege usually allows them to get away with it. But the more aware we are of all the ways there are to fool ourselves, the easier it is to wake up and make ourselves part of solutions.” [1] Sometimes we do not know that there is no such wall or barrier in front of us. One of the reason is fear of losing our privilege and realm which we used to be the owner and we do not want to share with others. In addition, we are full of selfish without caring other’s privilege or feeling. It seems that we have trouble with this wall day by day, no chance to walk over this barrier.

From the class last week, our class practiced the exercise of power, privilege, and difference regarding the ideas of racism, class, and gender which somehow related to the idea of ‘White Supremacy’.  During the time, I and my male classmate laid down on the floor face up and head closed to each other’s in the different directions and the women sat on the chair above us in four directions. At that moment, I felt overwhelmed in three ways of my thought, by the feeling, time pressure, and overwhelmed by how to do things ‘right’ thing at that moment. At the beginning, my feeling was normal and when the time passed by from 10-20 minutes I felt like how to do the ‘right’ thing at that moment. So, I decided to not do anything just lay down and practice my Pali chanting which I remembered at that moment. I try to use my terrorist mind to not follow the sound when I heard during I was laying down with my male classmate. I knew that I was not a good person at that moment. I did not help or use my voice to speak out when the female asked and even my male friends talked. I still continued to keep quiet and not use any voice until the last minutes of this exercise. I think my action like what Allan G. Johnson writes in his book, “But the truth is that my silence, my inaction, and especially my passive acceptance of everyday privilege that goes along with group membership are all it takes to make me just as much a part of the problem as any member of the Klan.”[2]

Anyway, from this situation, as a man I felt sad and empathy as well about this situation regarding gender. Most of the time women are hurt by men who have more power and privilege without love or compassion or without thought that is gender like their mother. I asked myself how I can help the people who live in trouble, both male and female with trouble and with this question it enriches awareness on me to the situation of difference. So, I need more choice and more chance to learn how to live together happily and harmoniously in the long term of life without any conflict of the power, privilege, and difference especially the different gender between male and female.

I like the idea that the Buddha give an advice to the monks (Bhikkhus, Pali) how to treat the women in the proper way which appeared in the Bharadvaja Sutta. In this sutta, the Buddha once advised to the young monks that, ‘Come now, monks: with regard to women who are old enough to be your mother, establish the attitude you would have toward your mother. With regard to women who are old enough to be your sister, establish the attitude you’d have toward a sister. With regard to women who are young enough to be your daughter, establish the attitude you’d have toward a daughter.’[3] This is one reason that I should bring it and share it here.

[1] Allan G Johnson, Privilege, power, and difference. (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p.108.

[2] Allan G Johnson, Privilege, power, and difference. Ibid., p.118.

[3] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Bharadvaja Sutta: About Bharadvaja,” accessed May 19, 2017, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.127.than.html.

Get Out There!

Whenever I go on a trip, whether it be a short distance or long distance, I always take at least a little bit of time and do some people observing.  Most times I’ll learn something new each time.  I still remember one of the teachings that the Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught about spreading Buddhism locally was to just go out there.  He said that in encouragement to the monastic disciples and lay teachers to break out from the temple/monastery setting and serve people that way.  I take that teaching to heart myself and try to break from the comfortable environment and bring the Dharma to the people, or in this case bring spiritual care to the people.

In Half the Sky, the authors Kristof and WuDunn made some recommendations to some young people who asked about how they help address issues like poverty or inequality, and right off the bat the first recommendation was to “get out and see the world.”[i]  I felt like that and what Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught was like two hands clapping together.  Even though I felt a little joyous that east and west have met again in theory, I also felt bummed, because, in order to get out there and discover stuff, I would need resources, especially monetary resources.  Kristof and WuDunn talked about one of the great failings of the American education system is not including studying abroad.  I myself never had any chance to study abroad because my major wouldn’t be able to accept the transfer credits and I just simply did not have enough money.  I already carry a lot of weight for not making time to exercise and I have to carry more weight on my back because I have a lot of student loans to repay when I graduate.  This may be tied back to the capitalism themes in the previous weeks’ discussions but if the economic system allowed for some flexibility or something then maybe I could pursue something like studying abroad or teaching English abroad.  Then again, especially with the new administration, this will continue to be a challenge.

When I read the chapter in Power, Privilege and Difference about the lingo that differentiates men and women, I had this rumbling feeling in my stomach.  I think it is because after reading the chapter I want to find a level that I can connect with women but at the same time, I find it real difficult.  Maybe it is because like what I mentioned previously that I have not been exposed enough to environments where the men are the dominant authority?  Or could it be because I was born and raised and still currently living under female authority that I am almost clueless about what male authority is like?  I’m not sure.  In the book the author states, “[i]n short, men are the cultural standard for humanity; women are just women.”[ii]  I really wouldn’t know how to react.  I know that men are the norm for cultural standards, but to have that out in black and white for me was a little bit of a shock, though I have to agree with it fully because it is the truth.  It is the same in the Buddhist community as well, but luckily that is gradually improving.  Another thought that came up for me in that statement was the professional dress code standard, men are usually in a shirt and tie with slacks and women are also given a the standard with a top and dress which I think has since later evolved into the blouse and slacks in order to be at the same level as men.  I’m not an expert in fashion but I am curious if this will evolve further?

 

[i] Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Page 88. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

[ii] Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, power, and difference. Page 104. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub., 2001.

It is women’s issue

MDIV 515: Power Privilege and Difference

Seong Hui Bark(Moogoo)

Reflection Paper

Reflect on your reaction to text or person

We watched Tedtalk about gender. After I finished watching first one titled: ‘Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue’, I really wanted to ask the male classmates like this: ‘How do you feeling about the talk? Whether they agree or not? Do they willing try to change men’s behaviors or not?’ Honestly, I was shocked by the talk since I never thought that men can help to reduce sex abuse or any kind of violence against women by changing their thinking. Can it be possible? I am really doubtful about it since I was only educated by thinking about what women can do to reduce public or domestic sex abuse or violence.

For example, when I was in the MA program at the University of Dongguk, there were a lot of special lectures or events for BA, MA and PHD students every semester. Sometimes the lectures would be held only for BA or MA students. One day, I saw a banner titled: ‘Sex Education for BA Female Student’. I did not want to attend the lecture since I was 30 years old or something at that time. However, I had a meeting with my lay friend who was an assistant to the instructor who gave the above lecture after the event. I went to the convention hall 20 minutes before the end of the lecture. Outside of the hall, there were no chairs so I decided to enter the room that the instructor was giving her speech. When I just entered the room, the instructor asked to audience: ‘Do you know why women was abused by men?” nobody answered and she said that ‘Because women did not say ‘Do not do that, I do not want it’ and continuously she explained the reason why women did not say it is because they did not have a chance to practice it before this happens for real. She suggested to the audience to repeat what she said loudly at that time such as ‘Do not touch my hip’, ‘Do not touch my waist’, ‘Do not touch my breast’, ‘Do not do that’, and ‘I do not want it’. In the confusion of the moment, I loudly spoke aloud the above statements following the instructor’s statements. In conclusion, she strongly convinced us that ‘Women must change their behaviors in order to prevent sex abuse or violence caused by men.’ I had a really good impression about her lecture I regretted that I did not attend the whole lecture. Because of this lecture, I thought that it is true that if women change and express their feelings of violence, men’s behaviors would be change. However, Violence Against Women—it’s a men’s issue: Jackson Katz makes me think whether it can be men’s issue or not.

Response to your inner/outer reactions

I still wonder how do my male classmates think about the Jackson’s talk whether they agree or not? I should have asked those questions to them in the class because I barely agree that violence against women is a men’s issue. It has to be women’s issue and I have two stories to support this but I think I should use only one since I have written too long these days.

I forgot about the lecture since I did not think it would happen to me in my life. One day, I rode the subway during the day in Seoul and I do not remember where I was heading to at that time. There were not a lot of passengers in my cabin and most of them sat on the seat. I also sat at the edge of the seat and I saw one passenger who sat diagonally from me coming towards me, stood in front of me and started talking about the Bible. I was a little uncomfortable that he was in front of me and talked about religion. After some time, he asked questions why I became a Buddhist nun at a young age and started yelling little at me about my decision to become a nun. At that time, I looked around and found that most passengers around me were men. The man suddenly stepped forward to me and little leaned his head to me. I could feet him threatening me so I said: ‘I do not want to talk about it now’ with a soft voice unlike how I practiced when I was at the sex education lecture. As soon as I finished with what I said, the man who was sitting next to me stood up and blocked the man in front of me using his right arm and the man who was sitting across from me came forward and bump the man’s shoulder and told him that I had said that I did not want to talk about it with him. The man who was threatening me and I were both surprised at that time. I could not clearly understand what was happening at that moment. I guess because of the two men’s angry faces, the threatening man got off at the next station right away. I thanked the two men and show my appreciation. After that, I talked to the man sitting next to me until I arrived at my destination. He first started talking about when he saw the protestant man coming to me, he was really uncomfortable too but he could not say anything because he did not know about my feelings whether I am ok or not. When the protestant man leans in on me, he started hesitating whether to intervene or not. Actually, he wanted to but was not sure at the time until he could hear my voice expressing that I did not want to talk about it. That statement gave him encouragement to do what he needed to do and he knew I was not comfortable with that situation. It seemed like the sex education lecturer was really correct; when I spoke out my feelings, the violence stopped right away.

Integrating the reading for the week

“Be the person at the bus stop that steps in when they see a woman being harassed or be the person on the bus that stands up and says it is not okay because our voices are the loudest when we raise them together.”

Everyday sexism: Laura Bates: Ted Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhjsRjC6B8U&feature=youtu.be

Jackson Katz said that violence against women is men’s issue but I insist it is still a women’s issue. In the case of my encounter in the subway, the two helpful men knew the situation was uncomfortable but they could not interrupt until they clearly felt that I needed help. I mean, the two men did not help until I said something. Secondly, I was educated on how to protect myself in public, to speak up of how I am feeling now which helped me escape the situation, therefore education helped me. Thirdly, if the two men did not help me, I believed that the threatening man would still be shocked because I spoke up for myself and maybe that could have stopped him from asking uncomfortable questions. The sex education lecture changed my behavior in dealing with being uncomfortable in public. Therefore, I assert that it is still women’s issue. At first, women have to be educated about sex, human right, responsibility of life and etc. Second, women confidently have to show their power, wisdom and loving-kindness. Third, when women have both of the above, they should speak out to men who do violence against women; “do not do that”, “I do not want it” are what Laura Bates said but at that time, definitely women do not need men’s power to help themselves since women already have their own power.

A Korean proverb says “It’s the thirsty man who digs the well.” I think men do not need to dig the well since it is the women that thirst for it. Women have to be wise; they should not wait for others to dig the well or think it is men’s work. Women have to take action with subjectivity. When they need to, they just do it and not wait for society to change. If women need to ask for men’s help, they should be allowed to ask for it freely, not having to beg for it. Women have to wake up and speak out for women’s right loudly. In my experience, if women do not change, then nobody bothers to dig the well; so women have to see clearly the reality that it is still women’s issue.

Using a Blog to Gain Mutual Understanding

Mutual Understanding. Conceptual Illustration Royalty Free Stock Photo - Image: 29836205

© Zibedik | Dreamstime.com

This semester, I created a blog, between ignorance and enlightenment. It’s a good opportunity for me to manage my life and thinking, and then condense everything into something that is manageable. Although it is a kind of social platform, I think the greatest benefactor is myself. Throughout our life we are always learning, however, the most important thing is to manage our knowledge and experience, and to give feedback to society. Consequently, this social platform is meaningful.

In the MDIV670 Spiritual Leadership course, many issues related to spiritual leadership and social issues were discussed. I am one talks less and just listens, because my English not quite good enough to express what I want. The other reason is Asian people are less likely to express themselves in public. MDIV670 is a kind of international classroom; there are some students from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan. Of course, the majority are American. By the project proposal, we shared the same platform, DHARMA DIALOGUE: BUDDHISM IN THE U.S., and created our own platform. Although I have experience to create a blog, the wordpress.com based platform took me several days to understand it. Finally, I am satisfied with my first English version blog. My friend misunderstood that it is another blog I suggested. She told me there are too many words; she only looks at the pictures not the articles. My other classmate told me it had a good design but she did not have time to see it.

By such an opportunity, we uploaded our reflection on skid row visiting. Everyone has a different point of view based on their family environment, experience and nationality. From the other classmates’ article, I knew that although we are unique we have the same spirit. We are willing to see, learn, reflect and improve. The different points of view from different people, helped enlarge my world and encompass more opinions. There is another thing I quite appreciate; we shortened our distance between classmates. Although every time we just greeted by smiling, the article sharing let us understand each other’s philosophy of life and values.

There are a total of 130 viewers till now, May 14, according to the following viewing data. The highest number of views in one day was 30. I am happy that one viewer’s reply to my skid row article, reframing transformation, said, “Yes, the reality of social injustice is there in Skid Row. We can observe it clearly. But the reality of homeless people in Skid Row is not only drug, alcohol, bankruptcy, but also humanity, self-esteem, humor, love and compassion. If we take time to make some contact with them, our view of those people is changed. They have self-esteem. They have love and compassion.” He shared with me the homeless people still have lo2ve, self-esteem and compassion. The comments once again broadened my firm thinking.

I am thankful for having such an opportunity to create our own blog, it’s our baby. It’s just a good beginning to move forward to the road of spiritual leadership. How to keep running suitability our blog and intercommunicate with people is very important.

I also thank my instructor Danny Fisher for introducing many spiritual leader topics, such as Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Martin Luther King, for us to discuss. And, I thank my classmates for sharing their values and ideas. Thank you for enlightening my seed of spiritual leadership.

May everybody be a good spiritual leader in your field of life.

REFLECTION ON PROJECT “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLE”

REFLECTION ON “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLE”

One week ago, I proposed the social project on the Caste System in India.  I used Facebook as media platform under the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Touch-the-Untouchable/609528329076721 in addition to my posts on Dharma Dialogue.

The discrimination in Indian society has really bothered me for the last ten years.  Why has it lasted for centuries?   I witnessed the unfair treatment and unbelievable misery in that country.  In a country, in which the Buddha reached enlightenment and tried to void the caste system, nothing had changed.  I had hoped to use this project to help understand its endurance.  Even the after the Buddha brought the light of Buddha nature to teach the equality in all beings later generations could not do anything about it.  King Asoka had power.  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with strong will and voice moved the whole British colony out of India.  So why could they not shake the destructive caste system strongly enough to free the poor?

I really want to dig in this matter.  However, my project only got “likes” from some professors, classmates, friends as supports without any comments that would help me understand this matter of the caste system.  They might agree what I am talking about, but they did not have time to research to help me understand why the caste system has such firm long-lasting history.

I wonder why it did not get much feedback.  Maybe it came in for a short time while the final week of semester coming up.  Maybe it was not good enough to attract other’s discussion because it is an obvious social matter in India due to its long history.  It seems normalized in people’s eyes while there are so many other corruptions occurring in daily lives around us that can danger the whole world.

Anyway, I hope people can assist me to fulfill my wish of helping innocent young generation to have a chance to change their destinies.  Together they might change their society.

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