Agreements include a willingness to try things that may not be what you prefer or with whom you are familiar, not to speak for the group, to understand the difference between intent and effect, and to use the word “and” instead of “but” to recognize and honor several realities. Agreements also require people to refrain from blaming themselves and others, or embarrassing them, from “retiring” if you tend to speak often, listen attentively, respect the confidentiality of those present, and know that you have the right to pass if you do not want to speak. “Agreements are a way to create structures that don`t depend on personality,” says Ikeda. “They create security so that people can develop mentally and build friendships and spiritual bonds with others in this area.” These days, even if you share offices with colleagues, multicultural factors play a role. This means that your employees must work effectively across different communication styles and cultural contexts to achieve business goals. Ikeda is community coordinator of the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) in Oakland, California, which offers meditation and teaching Buddhist traditions and other traditions of wisdom, with an emphasis on social action, multiculturalism and different population groups. “These agreements are based on an understanding of how people of good will, when we meet, will almost certainly replicate the forms of domination, oppression and damage in the wider community and society, simply because it is the norm,” says Ikeda, “unless there are interventions, agreements and practices that begin to change this status quo very consciously.” Yang writes that EBMC sees culture as an important part of the spiritual path: “We find what goes beyond the layers of our experience, going deep, not ignoring them.” Godfrey says that a great advantage of identity-based sanghas is that it eliminates the need to explain common culture and experiences. “You get a feeling of “I don`t need to explain it,”” she says. You understand. It may not be the same experience, but there is a certain universality. Practice yourself: Visit your own experiences and answers and talk about them. Do not speak for an entire group or speculate about the experience of others.
The EBMC welcomes families and children. Tallulah Shaylor (centre) celebrates the tenth anniversary of the EBMC with (see l.l.n.r.) Jonathan Relucio, DeNNiS M. SOmeRa and Sarwang Parikh, members of the EBMC Men of Color Deep Refuge group. Photo by Lyla Denburg. “When I`m here, no one looks or asks me what my disability is,” says one participant. “I can only be me, not my disability, even if it`s a part of me. People just get it. The EBMC is aware of the needs of this sangha and has adapted its language, so that the term “sit” is replaced by “meditate” so that people of all faculties can meditate in a way that feels comfortable. New iPads with credit card squares will also be placed for electronic donations at wheelchair levels, allowing everyone to have access to this technology.
Self-confidence… Respect and associate with your thoughts, feelings and reactions. Be aware of your inner voice and possess where you are, wondering why you react, think and feel how you do it. Monitor the content, the process and yourself. “Language is important, especially now that we have such a large influx of trans and questions,” says Godfrey. “Before I start a conference, I say, “Forgive me, if I use the wrong pronodem or forget to move because it`s a learning curve for me.” Sometimes, when I read a poem, I could change the pronouns, or when I give a quote from the Dharma, I will say, “This is how Buddha taught.