Barre Center for Buddhist Studies – Insight Journal: Sebene Selassieon a Deeper Engagement with Diversity

Barre Center for Buddhist Studies – Insight Journal: Sebene Selassieon a Deeper Engagement with Diversity


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Insight Journal
The Work of Diversity:
A Deeper Engagement
An Interview with Sebene Selassie

Learn more about Sebene’s upcoming course at BCBS this May on Buddha’s Teachings and Issues of Cultural Spiritual Bypassing.

IJ: What’s most essential for a deeper engagement with the work of diversity and inclusivity?

SS: To really engage in this work, there has to be some level of genuine motivation. If you have no interest at all, you might want to look at what that resistance or lack of interest is about—to see if it’s because you have no interest in understanding one of the dominant forces of our culture, or if perhaps there’s something else at play.

Also, different things are going to work for different people. I was talking to someone the other day who named six or seven books that have helped her understand and relate to this issue. Some of those books were personal narratives, some were more sociological, but reading was what did it for her.

For some people, it might be documentaries or online resources. For some, it might be group discussions in an affinity group where they can feel vulnerable and not worry about saying the wrong thing and being called a racist. For some, it might be engaging with a person of color and really trying to understand that person’s experience. It can begin simply by asking a person of color, “Can I ask you about these things?”

For most of us, it’s going to be a combination of all of these. Just like with practice, some of us gravitate to walking meditation, some to body scans, some to open awareness. If all they taught on your first meditation retreat was body scans, and you didn’t like body scans, you would probably think, “I hate meditation.”

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Sebene Selassie has been studying Buddhism since majoring in Comparative Religious Studies at McGill University. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and New York Insight. She continues to study and practice with Kitissaro and Thanissara as her primary teachers. For over 20 years she worked nationally and internationally for small and large not–for–profits; her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to refugee camps in Guinea, West Africa.

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The November 2016 Insight Journal featured The Discourse on the Snake Simile (MN 22), translated by Ven. Ñānaponika Thera.

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The Insight Journal archive features 21 years of articles, interviews, and translations from Buddhist authors such as Bhikkhu Bodhi, Andrew Olendzki, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. We invite you to browse the nearly 300 pieces.

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