Where do we find home? How do we become free together? These have been enduring questions for American Buddhists of Asian ancestry since the 1850s when the first Buddhist temples were built in the U.S. by immigrants and their descendants. Finding a place of refuge and belonging in a world often intent on exclusion. Discovering that one does not walk the path of liberation alone, but interlinked with family and communal practice. Refuge-Liberation is a workshop that brings insights from Buddhist Asian America to navigate the complexities of identity and to build an American Sangha that values multiplicity over singularity, hybridity over purity, and inclusivity over exclusivity. This workshop is oriented for those who identify as Asian American and allies, and it will consist of a hybrid format including the study of Asian American Buddhist history, interactive exercises to explore identity, and Buddhist ritual practices that enhance a sense of expansive belonging.
Duncan Ryuken Williams was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother and British father. After growing up in Japan and England until age 17, he moved to the U.S. to attend college (Reed College) and graduate school (Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion). Williams is currently Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & Cultures and the Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California. Previously, he held the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at UC Berkeley and served as the Director of Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies for four years. He has also been ordained since 1993 as a Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen tradition and served as the Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University from 1994-96. He is the author The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton University Press, 2005) and American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2019). He is also the editor/co-editor of seven volumes including Hapa Japan (Kaya Press, 2017), Issei Buddhism in the Americas (U-Illinois Press, 2010), American Buddhism (Routledge/Curzon Press, 1998), and Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard University Press, 1997).
See the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies website for more information about registration, fees, and logistics.