Dharma Night: Exploring Truth+ Justice+ Power

July 17th—November 20th

Date details +
    Room: Portland
    "Dharma Night: Exploring Truth+ Justice+ Power"
    hosted by Portland Shambhala Center
    Every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the Month

    6:30pm to 8:30pm
    SEPTEMBER 4th TOPIC: "Touching the Earth: Exploring Queerness, Community and Connection"
    For many queer people, living in a city offers the solace of community, but how do we also remember our connections to the Earth, to the places that birthed us? In a time when the Earth is in a state of deep change, how do we celebrate beauty while also grieving what is being lost? Queer history is rooted in grief--so many of us have lost so many loved ones--and yet, celebration has sustained us. Buddhist teachings help us to understand our impermanence, but how do we use our spiritual path to also protect what we love? We will use awareness and meditation practices to access the fierceness of our hearts and the depth of our connection.

    Cathleen Miller is a queer writer, herbalist and educator who identifies with both the Buddhist path and the path of the Witch. She practices Earth-based spirituality and is a long-time activist in environmental and social justice issues. Every day offers opportunities to acknowledge and reflect on our interconnection and our responsibilities to other humans and our more than human kin.

    SEPTEMBER 18th TOPIC: Exploring the Intersection of Poetry, Religion, and Spirituality

    Maya will begin with a short writing prompt before talking about how religion, spirituality, and poetry has intersected in her life. They will also share how art has inspired interfaith collaborations in their work.

    Presenter: Maya Williams (she/hers & they/them) is a religious, queer, mixed race and black suicide survivor currently residing in Portland, ME. She has a Masters in Social Work and a Certificate in Applied Arts and Social Justice ("18) from the University of New England. They have published poems in The Portland Press Herald, Maps for Teeth, The Occulum Journal, glitterMOB, and more, along with published essays in The Tempest and The Black Youth Project. You can follow Maya @emmdubb16 on Twitter and Instagram, and mayawilliamspoet.com 

    OCTOBER 2nd TOPIC: "Exploring Bi-Racial Identity"
    "I'm realizing that because I grew up in a predominantly white community that constantly othered me, I developed a concept of myself that I didn't fit in anywhere. I now realize that throughout high school and college, I would tell myself that I didn't fit in anywhere, and I think that really exacerbated the issue. It wasn't until I lived in Sri Lanka, at age 20 and again at age 22, that I really got to see the other side of my heritage. For once, I was not immersed in white culture and feeling othered, rather I was immersed in Sri Lankan culture and people were SO excited to tell me more about my heritage, the meaning of my last name, my family's place in the caste system, etc. It was such a shake-up of my identity, but it was a really welcomed one.
    I learned a lot about Buddhism when I was in Sri Lanka, experiencing this colossal identity shift, and so my feelings about Buddhism are colored by that positive time. I've began to use meditation as a way to sense myself in the real world, heighten my senses and be present of what I'm feeling rather than being insecure of what other people are telling me I should feel or be. Meditation has allowed me to access my light and give a piece of it to the world from the inside out (I imagine an energy fountain) rather than letting the world take from me and hammer me into the ground with their thoughts and expectations. These are a few ways meditation and Buddhism have been relevant to this issue of biracial identity."
    Emily Dunuwila is a bodyworker, educator and biracial woman. Having grown up Sri Lankan-American with parents of two races in a predominately white community, Emily has wrestled with issues of identity for much of her life. Emily has worked with cross-cultural exchange programs between the US and Sri Lanka, and now owns a massage therapy practice in Scarborough, Maine.
    (Please Note: Doors open at 6:15pm and lock at 7:00pm)
    Located in Woodfords Church @ 202 Woodford Street, 2nd Floor in Portland
    The intention of this event is to bring community together to engage in the practice of sitting meditation, to explore issues of identity, culture, and spirituality, and to address personal and systemic harm and injustice, both in our spiritual communities and in society at large.

    The hope is to host speakers representing varied identities, cultures, or communities, invited to speak on their personal experience of identity, of inequity or injustice, and of practices of spirituality, liberation, or empowerment. The essential questions for speakers will be: Who am I? What is my personal truth? What is my spiritual, universal, or higher truth? And how does society either support or deny these truths?

    Possible topics will include:
    Identity + Culture + Meditation + Buddhadharma + Religion + Spirituality + Gender + Race + Sexuality + Class + Age + Work + Wealth + Relationships + Family + Politics + Economics + Health + Arts + Well-Being + Privilege + Access + Power + Society

    6:30pm Meditation Instruction & Sitting
    7:10pm Guest Speaker(s), Discussion, Q&A
    8:10pm Tea & Socializing

    All are welcome. We are a community committed to realizing inclusive and just spaces with respect to gender, race, sexuality, ability, class, age, religion, education, and other forms of identity and culture.

    All experience levels are welcome. Instruction on the Buddhist practice of shamatha meditation will be offered at the start of each meeting.

    If you are interested in speaking at an upcoming gathering, please contact Roland Mendiola at [email protected].