Beyond Fear of Differences

People of Color & LGBTQ Tea Groups

People of Color Tea Group (ZCNYC) >

LGBTQ Tea Group (ZCNYC) >

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

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.

Here’s what the BFoD Planning Group has been working on since then:

  • Developing its own working agreements to enable challenging conversations about power, privilege and oppression
  • Working with outside facilitators to learn and develop skills in facilitating group process
  • Planning and initiating a series of meetings for ZMM residents around racism, sexism, power, privilege and oppression
  • Joining with ZCNYC’s People of Color Tea group to address issues of racism, power, privilege and oppression within the Mountains & Rivers Order
  • Opening conversations with interfaith groups and anti-oppression education trainers to see how ZMM can help bring Undoing Racism workshops to Ulster County
  • Preparing to share the work with the larger MRO sangha through regular meetings and resource-sharing

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.

We want to share some resources that we’ve found helpful in our own work.

If you have resources that you’d like to share with us, please email