Ever since our Guiding Teachers called for a public statement from the Buddhist Temple of Toledo in response to the death of George Floyd and the subsequent focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, a dedicated Temple leadership team has struggled passionately to find and craft words that live up to the challenge of this moment, and still we fear that what we have to offer isn’t enough. Nonetheless, we find it imperative to raise our voices in support of the Black community, to speak out against police brutality, and to help to find ways to dismantle systemic racism.
The senseless recent killings of Black Americans are nothing new. Racism is not getting worse; it is simply getting filmed. These are the foreseeable consequences of an institutional racism deeply ingrained into the fabric of American society. George Floyd died after an officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Eric Garner, Ahmoud Arbery, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, along with countless others, have been unjustly murdered. We mourn for and with the families who have lost loved ones to racism.
Rinsen Roshi, founding Abbot of the Buddhist Temple of Toledo, recently shared a video in which he spoke about racism and how, as a white man, he benefits from privileges that others do not. He reflected, “Institutional racism is a reality in our lives. Anyone who doesn’t agree must not understand what it is.”
America needs to do better, and the Buddhist Temple of Toledo needs to do better as well. As a community of practice, the Buddhist Temple of Toledo is committed to upholding the centuries old Bodhisattva precepts of doing no harm, practicing the BuddhaDharma, and actualizing good for everyone. Today, these ancient and noble precepts also come with the imperative to work in meaningful and specific ways to build a world where the Black community can live free from hatred and harm.
We are determined to critically self-examine, to listen deeply as an organization, to respond with compassion, and to stand in solidarity against the injustices committed against Black people and communities. At the same time, we embrace that we are vulnerable, that we need guidance from those who have been walking this path longer and more skillfully than we have. With open hearts, and with the deep wisdom of our Tradition, we embrace the not knowing of this moment and vow to not turn away from the work that needs to be done to fight racism and violence.
-- Buddhist Temple of Toledo Board of Directors
Rob Kaishin Bondy, Secretary
Michael Hoshi Leizerman, Treasurer
Winifred Shokai Martin, President
Jay Rinsen Weik, Guiding Teacher, Abbot
Karen Do'on Weik, Guiding Teacher
Rinsen Roshi's Abbot's Address: A Zen Priest Comments on Black Lives Matter