Beyond Fear of Differences

People of Color & LGBTQ Tea Groups

The Beyond Fear of Differences (BFoD) initiative began over a decade ago as a peer-led education and discussion group at the Zen Center of New York City around issues of race, gender, power, privilege and oppression.

In the summer of 2016, Shugen Roshi invited a group of sangha members to participate in a Beyond Fear of Differences planning group at Zen Mountain Monastery. This group joined with the Temple’s People of Color Tea Group for regular meetings, beginning in October of 2017.

On September 1st, 2018, the ZMM BFoD Planning Group and the People of Color Tea Group met for the fourth time, and voted to combine into a single group—BFoD. This group is working together and within committees to do this work together and bring it to the wider sangha.

As this larger BFoD Group continues to work together, BFoD’s Vision and Mission may change and evolve. Check this page periodically for updates.

BFoD’s Vision is:

  • For our sangha to reflect the true equality of all human beings
  • For everyone who comes to the Monastery to feel welcomed, seen, heard, and included
  • To appreciate social justice and anti-oppression work as an integral part of the Bodhisattva path
  • For monastic life and spiritual training within the Mountains & Rivers Order to include education; facilitated and self-directed/peer-led learning within the sangha; social action and personal, community and social/cultural transformation around issues of power, privilege and oppression

BFoD’s Mission is to:

  • Create a more inclusive and welcoming community, and a spiritual culture that supports speaking with courage, hearing without reactivity, and working together to uproot bias and inequity.
  • Recognize our own contribution to suffering around power and privilege
  • Develop policy and training in our own sangha to address bias and oppression
  • Examine bias and oppression in ourselves, our community and in society
  • Share learning around these issues with the larger sangha
  • Study the dharma in the context of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and other forms of oppression, and study racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and other forms of oppression in the context of the dharma.

People of Color Tea Group (ZCNYC) >

LGBTQ Tea Group (ZCNYC) >

What is Whiteness? Anti-Oppression Group (ZCNYC) >

Some resources that we’ve found helpful in our own work.

If you have questions, or resources you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you:

Beyond Fear of Differences Planning Group

BFoD Planning Group—Standing, left to right: Tanya Bonner, Joshin Del Valle, Jinfu Connelly, Shugen Roshi, Marie Ringo, Gikon Vasan, Gokan Bonebakker, Zuiko Settimi, Jordan Burnett, Hogen Sensei. Seated, left to right: Daisen Holeman, Hojin Sensei, Chikei Levister, Zuisei Sensei. Not pictured: Shoan Ankele, Meiju Linet, Gyokudo Roberts