A quantity of years in the past, I used to be the supervisor of a thriving Buddhist meditation heart in a big city heart. The neighborhood was full of honest, deeply dedicated practitioners, many of whom had turned to the dharma after experiencing trauma or habit. I cherished the sangha deeply and was dedicated to serving what had turn out to be a refuge for therefore many. However, it was additionally an especially male-dominated sangha the place many of us felt the weight of a delicate sexism that slowly eroded the cloth of a neighborhood we cherished.
When the meditation heart first opened and we started to develop its programming, I bear in mind advocating for a sitting group for practitioners who determine as girls. It felt necessary to me given the dynamics of the sangha, however was dismissed—till Donald Trump was elected president.
By that point, I had resigned as supervisor, however I joined a cohort of unbelievable folks to co-create and lead this fledgling girls’s sangha. Things modified shortly, and a yr or two after the girls’s sangha started, the meditation heart it was born from collapsed following the sexual misconduct of its founding trainer. It was a heartbreaking time for numerous folks.
As the neighborhood dissolved, the girls started to speak with one another in methods they hadn’t earlier than. Deeper truths got here out. I heard expertise after expertise of girls feeling much less valued, much less seen, and fewer revered than their male counterparts in our sangha. The tales I heard weren’t about intercourse or harassment. They have been the sort of small, delicate incidents that you just really feel afraid to title as a result of folks will let you know you’re overreacting, otherwise you may get labeled as being “difficult” or “crazy.” The tales I heard mirrored my very own experiences—not one horrific occasion, however a sluggish accumulation of moments that illuminate the information that you just’re not as valued or revered as different folks.
Years later, as a practitioner and counselor of Depth Hypnosis (a remedy that pulls on Buddhism, hypnotherapy, and shamanic knowledge), I nonetheless sometimes work with members of that sangha as they grapple with that have of shattered belief, in addition to many others who’ve skilled hurt in religious or spiritual communities. I’ve witnessed and recognized deeply the sort of religious hurt that corrodes a complete neighborhood when girls and different teams will not be handled absolutely as friends. That is a few of what’s on my thoughts now as Roe v. Wade is overturned.
For all of us who’re members of a sangha, we should acknowledge that greater than half of the folks in our neighborhood are at the moment confronted with a deep and painful religious query:
How can we navigate our relationship to religion, to neighborhood, and to ourselves when we live in a society that not deems us worthy of bodily autonomy?
This query will contact all of us, however significantly the most marginalized members of every sangha. For many, this might be way over a religious and philosophical query. It might be a query about survival. How can we survive and apply the dharma in a world the place essential decisions round well being, our our bodies, and our lives can not be exercised? How will we reply as the overturning of Roe v Wade disproportionately touches the lives of our sangha members who’re girls, but in addition girls who’re poor, disabled, queer, transgender, or from BIPOC communities? As practitioners, leaders, and as sanghas, these are questions we should reply.
Lama Rod Owens shared on Instagram earlier this week, “Just to be clear, as a spiritual teacher I will continue not abiding by any law, tradition, belief, or etiquette that jeopardizes access to basic resources supporting the safety, happiness, and health of myself and others. I will also continue helping others do the same.”
As Buddhist practitioners dedicated to moral conduct and to liberation from struggling, it’s applicable to query (and at instances actively disobey) the rites and rituals that take us farther away from fact or that trigger hurt and struggling to others. Even if these rites and rituals are handed down to us from the Supreme Court.
So how can we deal with this in our sangha in the days and months that observe? Here are some prospects for communities to discover:
1. Understand the affect in your neighborhood: It is necessary to perceive that many individuals in your sangha are reeling proper now. Their means to safely select whether or not or not to carry a baby into this world, whether or not they can search legit medical take care of an ectopic being pregnant or different lethal situation, or deal with being pregnant after incest or rape has been deeply jeopardized. This has medical, psychological, monetary, authorized, and religious implications for everybody concerned. This might be a life and demise subject for some.
2. Honor the emotion, lack of security, and trauma that arises: It can be necessary to know that the worry, grief, and anger your sangha members really feel as we speak is linked to all the locations the place their bodily autonomy and sense of worth or belonging in society has been violated in the previous. This ruling could depart members of your sangha reliving the instances they’ve been harassed, assaulted, or made to really feel small and powerless. They carry the weight of their very own trauma, and maybe additionally the trauma of their moms, grandmothers, and past, as a form of epigenetic shadow. It is our job now to do every little thing we will to guarantee their security, respect, and wellbeing. I imply this straight round entry to secure and authorized abortion, but in addition relating to lifting up their place and belonging in the sangha.
3. Uplift the voices and tales that want to be heard: As we transfer ahead, folks in your sangha may have to share their tales—of abortion entry, of childbearing, of bodily autonomy, and of the many ways in which patriarchy has coloured their lives. They will want to see these tales mirrored and honored by the voices of their academics. They may have to come collectively to make which means, to deeply grieve, and to categorical their worry and anger. This is an element of the immense therapeutic capability of being in a sangha—if we select to make it accessible.
4. Take motion: Your neighborhood could really feel known as to arrange and discover methods to advocate for change and this can be an impactful approach on your sangha to discover, or proceed to discover socially engaged dharma. Members of your local people (or folks in different states) may additionally want sensible assist and help—cash, journey help, psychological healthcare, childcare, and extra. This is one thing that your neighborhood can actively arrange round.
A closing word: It is necessary to bear in mind as we grapple with the religious and sensible points of bodily autonomy, security, and belonging, that we nonetheless have a alternative. We have the alternative to be there for one another. To acknowledge that this subject impacts all of us, whether or not we will turn out to be pregnant or not. To reply with compassionate motion. Making this alternative is how religious survival can happen, and the way we will dwell deeply into the fact of our interconnectedness with each other.
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