Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

We grieve for the loss of lives of George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Walter Scott. Terrence Crutcher. Samuel Dubose. Michael Brown… and so many others… We stand in solidarity with our Black community who has been again subject to racism, pain, suffering and brutality. This happens as we grieve for the 100,000 people who have died of COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected communities of color.

We are committed to searching our hearts and minds, learning and educating so that racism and all forms of hate are cut at their root.

We are committed to providing education in the fundamental tools needed to create communities in which people of all races and ethnicities can live in safety and dignity including Black, Brown, Indigenous, Trans and Queer People.

Self-Awarenesss. Self-Regulation. Healing Trauma.

Empathy. Compassion.

Communication. Collaboration. Education. Altruistic Action.

Faith communities each respond in their own ways to times of tragedy. We are a Buddhist community led by an indigenous woman of color, thus we regard diversity issues as core to understandings of the Buddhist philosophy of emptiness, compassion and interdependence. There are so many actions needed for the world to change, at Ngakpa Intl. we work together to contribute to that change through providing education and empowerment of all those we serve.

The Poem Read for The Retreat

When black men are 3.6 times more likely to die from police use of force
… I can’t breathe. When black men between the ages of 18-35 are dying twice as fast as any other American… I can’t breathe. When 100,000 migrant children have been held in detention by the U.S. government… I can’t breathe. When murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian/Alaskan Native women… I can’t breathe. When 25 million American women and 2.8 million American men are survivors of sexual violence… I can’t breathe.

Father Lamas, Mother Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dakas and Dakinis, Protectors, lineage masters, elders and ancestors.
Help me to breathe in “I Can’t Breathe” and breathe out compassion
Help me to breathe in “I Can’t Breathe” and breathe out education
Help me to breathe in “I Can’t Breathe” and breathe out altruistic action
Help me to breathe in “I Can’t Breathe” and breathe out the practice of liberation.

May all the pain of every living being be completely scattered and dissolved.
For all those ailing in the world, Until their every sickness has been healed, May I myself become for them The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.
Raining down a flood of food and drink, may I dispel the ills of thirst and famine. In the eons marked by scarcity and want, may I myself appear as drink and sustenance.
For sentient beings, poor and destitute, may I become a treasure ever-plentiful, and lie before them closely in their reach, a varied source of all that they might need.
My body, thus, and all my goods besides, and all my merits gained and to be gained, I give them all and do not count the cost, to bring about the benefit of beings.
May I be a guard for those who are protector-less, a guide for those who journey on the road. For those who wish to cross the water, may I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for land, a lamp for those who long for light; For all who need a resting place, may I be a bed. Thus for everything that lives, As far as are the limits of the sky, may I be constantly their source of livelihood until they pass beyond all sorrow.

(Excerpts from Pema Khandro’s poem and Shantideva’s bodhisattva vow as read at the Vajrayogini empowerment May 31, 2020)

Letter from Pema Khandro To the Sangha

Dear Friends,

I hope that by now you have read the Black Lives Matter statement I wrote for our sangha at homepage and on our news site I suggest you take time to look up each one of the names listed there and their stories. These are the stories of black lives that have been ended by racist violence. That is why we must say collectively that Black Lives Matter and uproot our own racism and collectively unravel systemic racism.

Right now there is much rage and grief and therefore this too is further training.

When rage and grief arises we must care for it. We must pay attention, breathing, witnessing, integrating as the storm moves through us. We may bring it to meet our calm and our presence, while accepting it completely as it is. We may bring it to meet our bodhichitta, while accepting it completely as it is.

For ourselves and so many of our friends who are suffering greatly, remember every experience has its peak and then dissipates. Knowing this we can weather anything. What this rage and grief will leave in its wake is yet unknown – but it should inevitably lead to altruistic action.

I reject the binary between calm and action. We must be able to self-regulate in order to act skillfully for the benefit of others.

We often fear anger and grief so much because it often takes over us as an overwhelming force in which we might drown. So the maladaptive way would be to suppress it.

But neither suppressing nor indulging relieve suffering.

We must learn to metabolize, hone and use these great energies for the benefit of ourselves and others. We must train to be stable, present and skillful within intensity. This is what it is to act as a bodhisattva. And when we learn to engage with power with the mind bent upon relieving suffering of others, this is what it is to realize the highest potential of Vajrayana Buddhism.

But this begins with acceptance, accepting even our rage and grief, even our sorrows and anxieties. Transformation begins with meeting these energies as they are. As Buddhists, we rely on specific methods to foster this acceptance and transformation, otherwise it is too difficult if we attempt to just think our way through powerful emotions.

In Vajrayana we say that anger met with bodhichitta leads to fierce compassion, a strategic, wise and powerful energy that works for relieve suffering. It is the Vajra wisdom Dakini.

And our grief met with bodhichitta, opens us to our interdependence with all beings.

Since our society is now publicly grieving the brutal systemic racism that has been a part of our nation since its founding, may we make room to grieve, learn, listen, speak and act in new ways.

Tomorrow is Saga Dawa, the birthday of the Buddha, his enlightenment day and his birth and death day and an eclipse day all in one. It is the radical coinciding of all these threshold experiences. And we too are at a threshold as a culture, as we reflect on what has been and raise the flag of hope for changes to come.

Thresholds are liminal spaces, as we say in Tibetan Buddhism, they are bardos. In a bardo there is no certainty. There is no structure. There is no safe haven. The bardo is good for only one thing – and that is transformation.

May we harness the storm of emotions so that we may be sources of solace, wisdom and altruistic action in all transformations to come.

For this Saga Dawa, may we awaken with empathy, compassion and altruistic action to the plight of Black Lives. In so doing, may we actualize the vision of the Buddha in which class and racial barriers were cast aside to foster an inclusive community moving forward towards individual and collective awakening.

Yours always,

Pema Khandro


By Remembering Our Sisters, We Challenge Police Violence Against Black Women and Legacies that Eclipse these Injustices. By the Association of Black Women Historians

Video: Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses ‘White Fragility’

Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger by Lama Rod Owens

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by angel Kyodo Williams,

Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedhullah

Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King

Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community by Larry Yang (Author), Jan Willis (Foreword), Sylvia Boorstein (Foreword) Format: Kindle Edition

From BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, by Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin Diangelo

How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, by Crystal Fleming

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at:
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