Guo Gu: Race, Violence, and A Buddhist Approach to Social Change
I just heard this dharma talk today from Guo Gu, a Chan teacher based at the Tallahassee Chan Center in Florida. I have heard a few of his teachings and I was very impressed with his command of the dharma and his ability to apply it in a modern American context. This talk on racism, violence and social change was even more impressive.
It comes from Guo Gu’s own experience of racism growing up. He was one of the only East Asian families (as he describes it) in his neighborhood. Guo Gu was beaten up every single day by boys in his neighborhood. As a teenager, he was part of a straight-edge skinhead punk band, a medium in which he could vent his pent up rage. This racial violence deeply shaped his being and consciousness growing up, and as he says, it took decades to undo the damage.
So please listen all the way through the talk, because though it starts out slow, it ends with a bang. By the end of the talk, he as outlined a very clear and powerful message about what is really ‘Buddhist’ about Buddhist social justice, and I have come to agree with all of it.
Guo Gu is setting up a new project to confront the issue of racial violence as part of his Dharma Relief Project, a non-profit organization. I intend to join him and be a part of it.