Thursday, June 30, 2011

Trainings of the Mind in Diversity

In the comments section of my last post, Buddhist blogger Ji Hyang, author of the wonderful blog Natural Wisdom, offered the following mind trainings from Thich Nhat Hanh for all of us to work with.

Trainings of the Mind in Diversity

1. Aware of the suffering caused by imposing one’s own opinions or cultural beliefs upon another human being, I undertake the training to refrain from forcing others, in any way—through authority, threat, financial incentive, or education—to adopt my own belief system. I commit to respecting every human being’s right to be different, while working towards the elimination of suffering of all beings.

2. Aware of the suffering caused by invalidating or denying another person’s experience, I undertake the training to refrain from making assumptions, or judging harshly any beliefs and attitudes that are different from my own or not understandable to me. I commit to being open-minded towards other points of view, and I commit to meeting each perceived difference in another person with the willingness to learn more about their world view and individual circumstances.

3. Aware of the suffering caused by the violence of treating someone as inferior or superior to one’s own self, I undertake the training to refrain from diminishing or idealizing the worth, integrity, and happiness of any human being. Recognizing that my true nature is not separate from others, I commit to treating each person that comes into my consciousness, with the same lovingkindness, care, and equanimity that I would bestow upon a beloved benefactor or dear friend.

4. Aware of the suffering caused by intentional and unintentional acts of rejection, exclusion, avoidance, or indifference towards people who are culturally, physically, sexually, or economically different from me, I undertake the training to refrain from isolating myself to people of similar backgrounds as myself and from being only with people who make me feel comfortable. I commit to searching out ways to diversify my relationships and to increase my sensitivity towards people of different cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, physical abilities, genders, and economic means.

5. Aware of the suffering caused by the often unseen nature of privilege, and the ability of privilege to benefit a select population over others, I undertake the training to refrain from exploiting any person or group, including economically, sexually, intellectually, or culturally. I commit to examine with wisdom and clear comprehension the ways that I have privilege in order to determine skillful ways of using privilege for the benefit of all beings, and I commit to the practice of generosity in all aspects of my life and towards all human beings, regardless of cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, age, physical or economic differences.

6. Aware of the suffering caused to myself and others by fear and anger during conflict or disagreement, I undertake the training to refrain from reacting defensively, using harmful speech because I feel injured, or using language or cognitive argument to justify my sense of rightness. I commit to communicate and express myself mindfully, speaking truthfully from my heart with patience and compassion. I commit to practice genuine and deep listening to all sides of a dispute, and to remain in contact with my highest intentions of recognizing the humanity within all people.

7. Aware of the suffering caused by the ignorance of misinformation and the lack of information that aggravate fixed views, stereotypes, the stigmatizing of a human being as “other,” and the marginalization of cultural groups, I undertake the training to educate myself about other cultural attitudes, world views, ethnic traditions, and life experiences outside of my own. I commit to be curious with humility and openness, to recognize with compassion the experience of suffering in all beings, and to practice sympathetic joy when encountering the many different cultural expressions of happiness and celebration around the world.

8. Aware of the suffering caused by the cumulative harm that a collective of people can impose on individuals and other groups, I undertake the training to refrain from consciously validating or participating in group processes, dynamics, activities, decisions, or actions which perpetuate the suffering that these trainings describe on a familial, social, institutional, governmental, societal, cultural, or global level. I commit to exploring, examining and eliminating the ways that I consciously and unconsciously ally myself with forces that cause harm and oppression, and commit myself to working for the benefit and peace of all.

Also, if you have time, take a look at this article by Larry Yang from the East Bay Meditation Center, from which this version of the mindfulness trainings was taken. The short introduction to them that is offered is helpful in my view.

May you all be well.


Sofan said...

Hi Nathan,

I'm Sofan Chan a Buddhist painter and I came across your very informative blog and I was wondering if you would like to use any of my Buddha paintings on your posts and articles or as a resource material? You will find them here,

I love your posts and they are truly inspiring. If you do decide to use any of the photos of my Buddha paintings, please just put a small credit on my behalf. You could link the image back to my site, or whatever credit you like to put.

Thank you for your time and I am hoping for your positive response.

Ji Hyang said...

Thank you, Nathan for your warm words and for sharing these practices in their fullness.

The greatest gift of the Maha Council, for me, was the opportunity to be in dialogue with many teachers of color- both pioneers and peers-- and to listen to the wisdom of their lived experience. Many of us in the gathering recognized diversity this to be among the greatest challenges, as our sanghas often skew white upper middle class and mirror the dynamics within American society. And speaking to the seasoned teachers confirmed my sense this will require many hands and eyes-- all of our compassion and insight and skillful means...

Katherine said...

This is a beautiful aspiration. Thank you for sharing this and all that you have of late on the subject of diversity. I believe that our ability to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and to cultivate a sangha that is reflective of broader society--in its membership and leadership--is so essential, as you know. There are so many subtle ways in which we perpetuate fear of "the other" and anyone following the Noble Eightfold Path should be interested in bringing that to light. Thanks again Nathan.

Nathan said...


I'll take a look at your site and see if something strikes me. Thanks for reading.