What's My Role in the Revolution?

A Spiritual + Political Day of Practice

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Should I run for office? Or meditate in a cave for 12 years? Or start a community farm? Or invest in outer space exploration so we have someplace to live when the planet dies? Should I quit my job and become a civil rights attorney … or a full time activist?

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar? If so, it might be time to revisit your role in the revolution.

A recipe for exploring your right role.

You’ll receive delicious interviews with brilliant organizers and teachers, each with a contemplation or a practice you can savor on your own time. You will get a set of tips to take these materials from the computer to design them into your own schedule for a day of practice and reflection, right in the middle of your busy, messy, beautiful and precious life.

Note: This will not be a day stuck at your computer

Suggested Schedules (Revise As Needed)

bell hooks, Buddhist and Black liberation scholar, offers us this encouragement:

“If in the struggle you have lost your joy, step back and ask: What is the struggle that will restore my joy?"

Black lesbian feminist writer Audre Lorde famously said:

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allows us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

Truth. And, this might leave you wondering, what are the new tools? How can I combine my spiritual life with social justice to develop genuinely liberatory solutions?

At Buddhist Peace Fellowship, we’ve been exploring these questions through BLOCK | BUILD | BE, a framework describing the essential qualities for true social and spiritual transformation.

Block: resisting harm and injustice

Build: cultivating relationships, communities, and new structures

Be: contemplative practices for resilience and liberation

There is no single correct role to play contrary to the judgmental mindset we’ve inherited from capitalism. It takes many of us— all of us!— in all of our multi-dimensionality, to achieve collective liberation.

Just as ecosystems thrive on diversity of life forms, so do our social movements require multiple roles. What’s your role??

Strengthen Your Practice and Activism

What does it take to enact true transformation of the world around us? We'll be joined by special guest speakers talking about:

  • How to do what you do best, and trusting that other needs will be met.
  • Letting go of doing everything, and inviting others to join the collective effort.
  • Being less judgemental and more collaborative with those who focus on a different role.
  • Interweaving spiritual practice with community building and direct action.
  • Examples of how leaders sustain themselves in social and environmental movements.
  • How to be more effective AND less burned out by balancing Block, Build, and Be in your life.

Wisdom from Teachers and Organizers, including:

Ai-jen Poo is Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. She works on both ends of the domestic care industry, advocating for affordable family care as well as access to quality jobs for the caregiving workforce. Ms. Poo was recognized as a MacArthur Genius in 2014 and is the author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.

For Poo, organizing is about bridge-building and about love: “I believe that love is the most powerful force for change in the world. I often compare great campaigns to great love affairs because they’re an incredible container for transformation. You can change policy, but you also change relationships and people in the process.” Follow her on Twitter at @aijenpoo.

Harmony Lambert (Chumash Nation) works for Greenpeace USA in Oakland, California on occupied Chochenyo Ohlone land. Her work centers on indigenous rights and sovereignty and their intersection with environmentalism. Harmony is a non-violent direct action and climb trainer, and is dedicated to spreading these skills widely to Indian Country and the environmental movement. Harmony sits on the Advisory Council of the Indigenous Peoples Power Project (IP3).

Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Ph.D. is a teacher in the Shambhala lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Dr. Smalls is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and is the Rusung or Area Protector of the Shambhala Center of New York City. They are assistant professor of Black Culture and Literature, as well as as a performer and performance studies scholar. Dr. Smalls has published work on hip hop, film, queer performance, and a host of other scholarly topics. Dr. Smalls' teaching schedule can be found at shanteparadigm.com.

Katie Loncke, BPF Co-Director, is our resident BLOCKer. She delights in protecting land, life, and community by springing effective nonviolent actions on unsuspecting targets. At Buddhist Peace Fellowship, she trains groups nationwide on combining Buddhist ethics with concrete, creative skills for nonviolent resistance. Read Katie's writing at kloncke.org.

Dawn Haney, BPF Co-Director, is our resident BUILDer. For the last decade, she’s been heading up organizations and community coalitions dedicated to healing and transformation, on issues such as anti-violence advocacy, rural LGBTQ visibility, and white anti-racism. She teaches at East Bay Meditation Center’s Alphabet Sangha.

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How the Day of Practice Works

We’ve put together this online retreat to create an opportunity beyond travel and borders to deepen at the intersection of spiritual life and social justice.

This retreat is not a silent practice that asks you to retreat from the world. Rather, it is an opportunity to create an intentional vessel for reflection, insight, and transformation. By signing up for this retreat, you can do it on your own when it works for you -- OR, schedule a time to practice with others who are similarly dedicated to compassionate spirituality and radical politics!

From your computer or smartphone, you'll get access to the entire day’s worth of videos, audio recordings, and text transcriptions to digest at your own pace.

Video Interviews

In 30-60 minute video and audio interviews, you’ll hear from wise leaders who are deeply embedded in practices for collective liberation, from organizing to teaching to blockading. All videos and audio recordings come with full transcripts.

Practice Partners or Study Groups
A partner or small group to practice with-- whether online or in real life-- makes for a supportive retreat environment. Invite neighbors, siblings, friends, or co-workers who would also love "What’s My Role in the Revolution" to sign up and do the retreat together!

Set Aside Time

Dedicate your day to being on retreat. From waking up to watching the first video to making lunch, you can move through every step with intention. We invite you to make some space around each recording and take time for reflection after.

When can I start?

As soon as you register, you'll get access to the full retreat content.

Cost and Payment Options

This course is offered on a sliding-scale.

Choose your amount and register today 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 retreat 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 full and enthusiastic registration at $19, $39, or $69, depending on your financial ability, secures your spot in the retreat. It also lets us know that we can sustainably create more online gatherings for you! Please consider registering at the full amount you can to help make this retreat available to everyone who wants it, regardless of their financial capacity.

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!

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Your Hosts

Kate Johnson hangs out at the intersections of spiritual practice, social action, and creative expression. Before joining BPF to co-create educational programs, 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, though not necessarily in that order. In addition to teaching meditation and mindful movement for people of all ages, Kate facilitates awareness based anti-oppression trainings for schools, businesses and organizations. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader training and current student in the four year retreat teacher training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in the Western Insight/ Theravada Buddhist tradition.

LiZhen Wang spent their childhood in Taipei, New York, and New Jersey, with their mother’s Buddhist altar at the center of every home. As an organizer for racial and economic justice, LiZhen has led campaigns targeting NJ’s biggest utility to pay its security officers a living wage; fighting the Providence Police Department’s use of gang injunctions against youth; and most dear to their heart, mobilizing their own workplaces to win just conditions, so that nonprofits can practice what they preach. They are also a sometimes spiritual counselor who integrates astrology, sacred sexuality, and bodywork into their practice. In addition to organizing and divining, they have also made dough as a nanny, secretary, and professional humiliatrix. They are humbled, grateful, and expanded by it all.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the retreat?
Any day you like! This is a day of retreat you can do without leaving your life. It is comprised of pre-recorded online content that you can watch at your own pace. Play with the suggested schedule above to create a flow that works for you.
Where do I show up?
Simply log into Teachable, and you can access everything through your computer, smartphone, or other device. If you're joining the live call, we will use Zoom, a web conferencing platform; details will be provided upon enrollment.
What do I need to prepare?
This retreat is an opportunity to create an intentional vessel for reflection, insight, and transformation. We recommend taking one day and treating it as a day of retreat. You may take a social media break or send notes to friends and family that you’ll be away from email and phone for the day. Decide what kind of retreat you want to have, and prepare your container with what you need to have it.
Can you accommodate my access needs?
We love getting creative to make things accessible! All teacher videos will come with a transcript. Have an access need you'd like us to meet? Please reach out at [email protected].
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 "What's My Role in the Revolution?": bpf.org/scholarship-fund
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.