U Mad? Wisdom for Rageful Times

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"Just like our organs, our anger is part of us. When we are angry, we have to go back to ourselves and take good care of our anger. We cannot say, 'Go away, anger, I don’t want you.' When you have a stomachache, you don’t say, 'I don’t want you stomach, go away.' No, you take care of it.

In the same way, we have to embrace and take good care of our anger."

—Thich Nhat Hanh


Does anger have you tied up in knots? As a spiritually-minded activist, you aren't alone in finding anger challenging.

Anger is a very human feeling. It identifies injustice against yourself and others, offering a sharp sword of clarity. Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde lays down how women (and we can expand this to people of all oppressed or marginalized genders) channel anger into action:

Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.

Yet anger isn’t everything. If it’s your only fuel to action, you’ll be quick to lose steam. And you’ve heard that the Buddha isn't a cheerleader for anger. In some traditions, he even admonishes his most devoted students to train anger completely out of their hearts:

Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words.' — Kakacupama Sutta

In this new online course with Buddhist Peace Fellowship, you’ll have a chance to grapple alongside others with these questions and more:

  • Can I calm my anger and still fight for justice?
  • How do I work alongside people bursting with rage?
  • How do I work with those who shame me for being angry?
  • What fuels my activism beyond anger?
  • Is anger as bad as the Buddha says?
  • Is anger as useful as the activists say?
  • What practices can help me transform rage into wisdom?
  • What practices will cultivate my capacity to work with others?
  • When, if ever, can I punch Nazis?

Benefits For Your Practice and Activism

We all have habits around anger. Some of us avoid it at all costs. Others embrace righteous rage as essential self defense. Trauma and anger (its presence, or conspicuous absence) often intertwine.

When you take this 6-week online class series, you’ll find:

  • Wise reflections from dharma teachers who care deeply about social justice
  • Techniques for working with rage, trauma, and betrayal
  • Exploration guides to discover your own relationship to anger
  • Tools to evaluate when rage is more skillful or less skillful for you

  • Community support from like-minded wisdom seekers
  • Opportunities to build your skills at allyship and solidarity
  • Ability to face rage-making realities with more compassion, balance, and action
  • Increased capacity to work with others toward liberation — including difficult people
  • Connection with people whose rage you can relate to — especially if you are daily targeted as a person of color, immigrant, disabled person, queer and/or trans person

Enjoy Wisdom from Guest Teachers including:

Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is an author and ordained Zen priest who combines Buddhism, intuitive knowing and indigenous wisdom in a path of liberation. She is author of many wonderful books including The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality and Gender, available in paperback and as an audio book.

Rebecca Li, a Dharma heir and teacher in the lineage of the Chan Master Sheng Yen, started practicing meditation in 1995. She attended her first intensive retreat with Chan Master Sheng Yen in 1996 and began serving as his interpreter in 1998. She is also a sociology professor at The College of New Jersey.

Ruth King is an Insight meditation teacher, emotional wisdom author, and consultant. Ruth teaches at Insight communities nationwide, including on the Dedicated Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock and as the founder of Mindful Members Practice Community in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Venerable Prenz Sa-Ngoun was born in Seattle, Washington and has been a monk since the early age of 12. Now, at 18 years old, he resides with Watt Dhammacakkaram in Seattle, Washington. He started Cambodian Cooperative of Seattle (CCS) to support younger generations of Cambodians in Seattle to know more about their culture and heritage.

Larry Yang teaches meditation retreats nationally and is committed to creating access to the dharma for diverse multicultural communities. He is a Spirit Rock teacher and is a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center (Oakland) and Insight Community of the Desert (Palm Springs). His book Awakening Together will be released in Fall 2017.

Lama Rod Owens is a graduate of the traditional 3 Year Retreat program at Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery, receiving teaching authorization from his root teacher, The Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche. He currently serves as a resident teacher with Natural Dharma Fellowship, and is co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation.

Pablo Das was empowered by Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society founder Noah Levine in 2009, and served on the founding teachers council at ATS until 2016. A practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, he offers trainings and privately works with clients to integrate Buddhist practice and principle, trauma resolution and holistic health models.

How the Online Program Works

Sign up now, and we'll get started on March 14th!

You’ll get a email every Tuesday for the next 6 weeks, with a basket of gems to help you feel not so alone in touching your anger.

Weekly Interviews with Teachers

You’ll hear from wise teachers each week via 30-minute video or audio interviews — Buddhist teachers and political activists who are attuned to the experiences of communities targeted by hate. All videos and audio recordings come with full transcripts.

Practice Ideas and Insightful Readings

You’ll get practice suggestions for working with rage, trauma, and betrayal, as well as some of our favorite Buddhist and political readings to scale up your dharma & activist wisdom.

Live Community Conversations

You’ll also be invited to three live community conversations via the Zoom video conferencing platform. The community conversations will be a space to connect with fellow students, ask questions, and hear more from Buddhist teachers and political activists.

Anger can be a vulnerable topic for all of us. You’ll get a chance to connect with people like you — people with conditioning as anger avoiders or anger embracers, people with similar experiences of being attacked as targets, and folks looking to strengthen allyship to these targeted groups.

During these calls, you'll get to experience skillful group practices for working in diverse groups. We'll spend some time meeting in small groups intended to provide greater refuge for groups that are targeted. In our full group conversations, we'll aim to restore balance by hearing more from folks who are under attack.

When can I start? You’ll receive your first email on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 with instructions about how to access the program. After that, you’ll get a reminder email each Tuesday to let you know when the next module is released. We’re using Teachable, an online platform that you can log into any time.

Class Curriculum

Available in days
days after you enroll
  Rebecca Li on Finding Compassion without Losing Accountability
Available in days
days after you enroll

This course is not open for enrollment.

Costs and Payment Options

This course is offered on a sliding-scale.

Choose your amount and register by Monday, March 13th to join.

If you’ve hung around Buddhist Peace Fellowship, you know that we’re a scrappy little organization running on a shoestring. We’re offering this online training program on faith — faith that dharma + social justice is what's needed now, and faith that you'll agree, finding as much nourishment, inspiration, and deep benefit as we do.

Your enthusiastic registration at $19, $39, or $59, depending on your financial ability, gets you access to this course. It also lets us know that we can sustainably make more of these online courses for you! Thank you so much for giving what you can, thereby making this and other courses available for all who are interested in personal and collective liberation.

Want to join, but worried about the cost? Let us know — we have partial and full scholarships available. No one turned away from this needed program for lack of funds!

Your Instructor

Kate Johnson, Dawn Haney, & Katie Loncke
Kate Johnson, Dawn Haney, & Katie Loncke

Kate Johnson

When Kate’s not raging at the latest news on her Android phone, she hangs out at the intersections of spiritual practice, social action, and creative expression. For several years, she served as transformational activism coordinator at The Interdependence Project, helping meditators get involved in fair wage and climate justice campaigns, and challenging them to dance battles, not necessarily in that order. Now she teaches mindful yoga in NYC public schools, Buddhist meditation at New York Insight Meditation Center, and facilitates embodied approaches to organizational and leadership development for social change agents and communities. Kate is about to complete Community Dharma Leader training at IMS/Spirit Rock, and will begin retreat teacher training at Spirit Rock this summer.

Dawn Haney

Dawn started channeling anger into action at 11 years old, when she spent summer afternoons picking up fast food cups and beer cans from the rural Indiana ditches near her home. For the last decade, she’s been heading up nonprofit organizations and community coalitions dedicated to healing and transformation, on issues such as anti-violence advocacy, immigrant integration, rural LGBTQ visibility, white anti-racism, and now spiritually-informed activism with Buddhist Peace Fellowship. As she’s crisscrossed the country from the Midwest to Georgia then Colorado and now California, one common thread is her love of teaching and community organizing. Rage at a bad breakup first brought her to the dharma in 2002; she now teaches and serves on the leadership team at East Bay Meditation Center’s Alphabet Sangha and is finishing up the 2-year Community Dharma Leaders program with Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Katie Loncke

Katie’s rage has a mischievous streak, so she delights in protecting land, life, and community by springing effective nonviolent actions on unsuspecting targets. (See: helping to block a Shell oil drilling ship for 48 hours in Portland, Oregon.) When she’s not out fomenting compassionate confrontation, this terminal nerd has likely got her nose in a book about liberation struggles (increasing the rage, but also the resilience). As a Co-Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship she trains groups nationwide on combining Buddhist ethics with concrete, creative skills for nonviolent resistance. Her writing has appeared in digital and print publications, including the chapter on race and racism in A Thousand Hands: A Guidebook to Caring for Your Buddhist Community (2016, Sumeru Press). Katie loves lemons, cats, warm nights, Black Power, clean water, and the Temptations, even though they’re all impermanent and stuff.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts Tuesday, March 14. We'll post new material weekly through Tuesday, April 18, and our final live conversation will be Wednesday, April 19. If you need more time, no worries! It is a completely self-paced online course - you can take your time, go back for review when you want, and dig in deep with the materials.
When & where do I show up?
The class is online, so you'll access it through your computer, smart phone, or other device. Most of the class is on your time, but you'll want to show up for our LIVE conversations if you can! We'll send you the logistical details, but be sure to put these dates in your calendar. Monday, March 20: 5:30-7p PT / 8:30-10p ET Saturday, April 8: 10a-11:30 PT / 1-2:30 ET Wednesday, April 19: 5:30-7p PT / 8:30-10p ET
Can you accommodate my access needs?
We love getting creative to make things accessible! All teacher videos will come with a transcript, and we can arrange for ASL interpretation and/or captioning during our live conversations. Have an access need you'd like us to meet? Please reach out at umad@bpf.org
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We’re sure you’ll dig this! But if you decide it’s not for you, no need to make grand excuses. Just let us know by April 4, 2017, and we’ll give you a 100% refund.
Worried you’ll miss a week?
We know you are busy protesting deportations or heading on silent retreat. No need to panic -- the course will be here when you are. Your registration gets you lifetime access! And we’ll record and transcribe the main parts of these live conversations for folks who can’t attend and still want to feel connected.
Can I contribute to the scholarship fund?
Yes! Thank you for helping us share this with EVERYONE who needs it! Please make a donation to Buddhist Peace Fellowship's Scholarship Fund for the U Mad? course: bpf.org/scholarship-fund

This course is not open for enrollment.

Ready to transform your anger into power and liberation? Register today, and we'll send your first email on March 14th!

We look forward to being in this course with you — see you soon!