MIMG Statement on Racial Violence, 9/3/2020
As we take in the news of the latest police shooting — this one in our backyard — we feel compelled to respond.
Jacob Blake of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot in the back seven times by the police in front of three of his young children. We are deeply moved by what Jacob’s sister had to say in the aftermath:
… this has been happening to my family for a long time. Longer than I can account for. It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family. Philando, Mike Brown, Sandra, this has been happening to my family, and I’ve shared tears for every single one of these people that it’s happened to. This is nothing new…. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years…. I’m not sad, I don’t want your pity. I want change. (Full statement here.)
Those lost to racism and police violence are family to all of us. We are a human family. Our vulnerability to violence, poverty, and other forms of suffering may differ depending on the color of our skin, but we are as connected as the facets of a diamond. As a sangha, we affirm our aspiration for peace and our understanding that without freedom for all none can be free.
We are cognizant that Jacob Blake’s shooting arrives on a crescendo of suffering caused not only by police brutality and gun violence but also by the coronavirus pandemic, which is bringing sickness and death disproportionately to communities of color and other groups that have been customary targets of discrimination. These winds of injury and suffering call on us to reexamine what each of us is doing to create conditions that truly promote equal opportunity and fair treatment for all.
Madison Insight Meditation Group seeks not to blame or to castigate but to better understand the causes and conditions that lead to and perpetuate fear, hatred, and anger. We seek to diminish our unexamined or habitual reliance on mental formations or constructs regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability that keep us from recognizing how connected we all are. And we seek to embody, in the conduct of our Dhamma practice and in ways that are relevant to these troubled times, the understanding that our well-being depends on each other.
May we all take responsibility for our actions, and may good hearts prevail.
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To learn about our practice opportunities and what we are doing to support inclusivity, please continue reading…
The Madison Insight Meditation Group began in September of 1995 to serve people interested in meditation and Buddhism in Madison, Wisconsin, and the central Midwest. In 2001, we split into two connected collaborative organizations: Madison Vipassana, Inc., to host retreats, and Madison Insight Meditation Group, to provide regular local meditation sessions and a variety of practice opportunities.
Together on the Path to Peace
Madison Insight Meditation Group and Madison Vipassana provide opportunities in Madison, Wisconsin, and the central Midwest for the practice of samatha/vipassana meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition and access to the teachings of the Buddha. We offer three weekly sitting groups, occasional half-day meditation sessions and introductory and continuing meditation classes, and three meditation retreats a year. We also sponsor monthly Kalyana Mitta study groups for individuals wanting to study and discuss Dhamma. If you are interested in these or other activities of Madison Insight Meditation Group, please look through these webpages or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You do not have to identify as a Buddhist to learn and practice this style of meditation or to benefit from or participate in our activities and events. Our activities are attended by people with varying levels of training and experience in meditation. What we have in common is an interest in practicing the Buddhadhamma to bring greater ease and happiness to ourselves and others.
We practice meditation in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism as developed in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Insight meditation, or what the Buddha called the practice of samatha/vipassana, is a practice to develop calm through sustained awareness of a meditation object (frequently the breath) and to develop insight through mindful observation, investigation, and reflection. There are thousands of excellent resources on insight meditation on the web. You might want to begin with this Introduction to Insight Meditation and also review the many articles, audio links, and other resources on our links pages.
A Practice Home for All
It is our deepest wish to provide an open and welcoming environment where all can practice in safety and ease. Yet we recognize that this remains more an aspiration than a reality as long as divisions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability stand in the way of the flourishing of all.
Here are some steps we’ve taken to date:
- We’ve made a commitment to invite at least one teacher of color to lead a retreat every year and to do all we can to secure venues that are accessible and can accommodate the schedules of our invited teachers.
- We’ve implemented a “pay what you can” approach to retreat fees.
- We’ve adopted a policy establishing priority in retreat registration for young people and people of color.
This is necessarily a work in progress. We invite your ideas and guidance as we continue striving to make our sangha a welcoming home for all.
CONTACT US AT:
Madison Vipassana, Inc.