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Being Black


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Table of Contents

Part I: The Nature of Our Existence
1. Four Simple Truths
2. Three Wonderful Treasures
3. Three Serious Poisons
Part II: Steps for Creating a Spiritual Life
4. Awakening the Warrior-Spirit
5. Laying Pure Foundation
6. Walking the Path
7. The Profound Act of Being Still
Part III: Living Every Day with Fearlessness and Grace
8. Lovingkindness: Discovering Compassion
9. Mindfulness: Grace and Seeing Things as They Are
10. Fearlessness: Claiming Your Warrior-Spirit
11. Wake Up: A Call for Transformation
12. Suggestions for Further Study: Pointing the Way

An Explanation of the Characters

About the Author

Angel Kyodo Williams is an ordained Zen priest and founder of the Urban Peace Project. She has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, and Essence, and is a columnist for Ms.


Williams is by no means the only African American Buddhist in America, but she may be one of the most vocal and certainly the most intriguing. She is a Zen priest, founder of the Urban Peace Project, and cofounder of Koko bar, the first black-owned and -operated Internet cafe. Her engagingly written book is in fact a very good primer on the essentials of Zen Buddhism for all readers, of any color; "mindfulness," "being still," and "loving kindness" are among her subjects. Her special message to African American readers is that "it is the separation from our true selves that keeps us from enjoying personal happiness." Highly recommended. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Compatibility with other traditions is an unsung strength of Buddhism. Here, ordained Zen priest Williams makes a compelling case for African-Americans to embrace this practice that originated far from their fundamental roots on the continent of Africa. Although she does not advocate that African-Americans replace their traditional religions with Buddhism, she does believe that Zen's practical approach to ordinary life can help them, noting also that Buddha was a brown-skinned person. Williams, who is African-American, quite comfortably employs black vernacular, balancing such light moments with meatier discourses on the particular history and weight of blackness. Williams's primary thrust, however, encompasses the basic whats, hows and especially the whys of Buddhism. Under her effective touch, such concepts as Bodhisattva Vows, Pure Precepts and the Eightfold Path become accessible possibilities for a better everyday life. Postures and procedures round out this unassuming primer that squarely embraces Zen (meaning "meditation"). With subtle persuasion and highly readable prose, Williams advocates that a "warrior spirit" of truth and responsibility is a good fit for people who "want to know how to be here in this life and be okay just as we are." She has reached well beyond her stated audience, for to whom does this not apply? (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"There is nothing quite like this lean, honest, courageous presentation of the Dharma." - Alice Walker "...an important new step for Dharma in the West, her book is a classic." - Jack Kornfield

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