EBMC’s Season of Gratitude concludes with a beautiful story from Sangha member Tenesha Duncan about how EBMC supports us to skillfully address conflict and challenge injustice.
“As someone who grew up in a Buddhist household, I’ve long been familiar with chanting and some meditation practices. But EBMC’s secularism and focus on social justice makes it the first space I’ve been in where I’ve felt able to bring my full Buddhist self with all the identities I carry.
I moved to Oakland in August 2018 for a new job in philanthropy that focuses on reproductive health and justice. Within a year, the challenges I faced in this position led me to seek a therapist who, as it happened, had been a part of the PiTA program. Upon her recommendation, I attended the POC sangha. Being surrounded by the energy of so many other people of color meditating together made me realize what a magical place EBMC is. Shortly thereafter, I applied and was accepted to PiTA 7. Not only did EBMC become a welcoming spiritual home for me through this program, but what I learned about mindfulness through the study of the center’s multicultural agreements would change so much about how I approach my work and life.
One of my most formative experiences in EBMC was at the weekend retreat, “Embodying the Timeless Wisdom of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” with Konda Mason and Noliwe Alexander. It was the first time I’d immersed myself in a space that celebrated Dr. King for his radicalism, his complexities, and the way his teachings connect to mindfulness and Buddhist practice. Most powerfully, it offered me the opportunity to reflect on and practice the power of right speech. I realized that the willingness to be honest, to regularly discuss tensions as they arise, and to challenge ourselves to ask questions in order to connect with the whole of people is what makes EBMC so special. These experiences and the way that EBMC holds these values makes me feel less afraid to address conflict and injustice. Here, I can trust that we, as people of color, can carry each other through tensions. Now, in my philanthropic work, I feel more confident to push on the pieces of systemic inequality that I have power over. My experience with EBMC’s values has helped me to bring mindfulness to a space that is deeply ingrained in patriarchy, classism, and white supremacy culture.
Gift economics has also been deeply transformative for my role in philanthropy and how we talk about the shifting power in our relationship to money. Organizations like EBMC are having an outsized impact on the world relative to the resources they receive. Dana challenges me to see what we value as not just being about money, but transforming how we relate to and support one another. It is up to each of us to make sure that the justice work we are engaged in, and the radical leadership work EBMC makes possible, is sustainable.
I am grateful to EBMC for continuing to show me all the ways I still have room to grow in my justice work, and for the way the center and its programs have strengthened my own leadership in my community.”
***Thanks to Sangha members like Tenesha and the tremendous generosity of our community, we exceeded our fundraising goal this year and raised more than $40,000 for EBMC’s vital programming! Deep appreciation to all who made financial contributions this Gratitude Season. If you did not yet have a chance to donate, there is still time! Please click here: eastbaymeditation.org/generosity/donate Thank you!!!***