I am excited to announce open registration for the Winter 2020 Birth Bruja Book Club!
This season, we are diving into The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, written by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.
This is one of the most transformative books I've ever read in the intersections of spirituality and social justice. While Zenju writes from a Buddhist perspective, it speaks across traditions and is a very digestible read. Considering that birthwork is a practice of mind, body, heart, & spirit- I knew it would be a powerful aid in our journey of sustainability, healing, & justice.
Two Scholarships Available!
Scholarships include a class pass for all 4 sessions and a free copy of the featured book!
To apply, please send an email to Eri@BirthBruja.com with a line or two about why you want to participate in this season's book club and include your mailing address to which we can send the book if you are chosen!
Recipients will be announced Monday, February 3rd! THANK YOU to our phenomenally generous community who made this possible <3
About the Book:
What you'll find on the back of the book:
"What does liberation mean when I have incarnated in a particular body, with a particular shape, color, and sex?”
In The Way of Tenderness, Zen priest Zenju Earthlyn Manuel brings Buddhist philosophies of emptiness and appearance to bear on race, sexuality, and gender, using wisdom forged through personal experience and practice to rethink problems of identity and privilege. Manuel brings her own experiences as a lesbian black woman into conversation with Buddhism to square our ultimately empty nature with superficial perspectives of everyday life. Her hard-won insights reveal that dry wisdom alone is not sufficient to heal the wounds of the marginalized; an effective practice must embrace the tenderness found where conventional reality and emptiness intersect. Only warmth and compassion can cure hatred and heal the damage it wreaks within us.
This is a book that will teach us all."
What I have to say about this book (an excerpt):
Why is it that in spiritual spaces we eagerly seek the “one size fits all approach?” How does ignoring differences enable us to focus on inter-connectivity when, in fact, we are connected through our differences just as we are connected through our similarities? Acknowledging difference in identity enables us to cultivate awareness on the experiences of others- particularly the ways in which people navigate privilege and disadvantage. It is crucial to spiritual inquiry to acknowledge the ways in which our society has “rendered some lives dispensable and others not.” (p46) Spiritual practice is a cultivation of connectivity and a valuing of life. To ignore the suffering of mass groups of people is an act of violence. Zenju explains that “when explored in Buddhist communities, [suffering] is treated as a personal issue rather than as a collective injury.” (p47) This has been my experience as well in Vedic spaces in response to such issues of racism and sexism. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means the practice of non-violence. A pillar of major religions, it seems contradictory to focus on the overt acts of violence while ignoring the subtle.
Zenju explains “to be “good” people we tend to bypass the messiness of our lives in order to enter the gate of tranquility.” (p48) In other words, to truly acknowledge the pain and suffering in this world and the ways in which they are enabled to continue would require individuals to face the ways in which they contribute to the oppression. Most people resist this acknowledgement because it seems contrary to the narrative “I am a good person.” Rather than deal with the struggle and apparent contradiction, people choose avoidance and dismissal.
It is on this note that I will start to close this entry as this describes the overall state of society. Zenju offers powerful wisdom as she explains how acknowledging the multiplicity of oneness enables us to “have the capacity to see our subjectivity, to see our embodiment as useful to the spiritual path, to see our embodiment as creating meaning for our lives, and to see it as the location of awakening. To seriously consider the ways in which our spiritual paths are shaped by our multiple identities and subjectivities is the way to tenderness. To awaken from within our unique embodiment is to awaken collective awareness: spiritual awakening and social activism are one and the same.” (p81)
Spiritual practice awakens us to the interconnectivity of life. It is from this foundation of connection that we see recognize the injustice of certain lives being valued over others. Valuing life empowers us to seek personal and collective action to change the systems of oppression that perpetrate collective suffering. Honoring difference rather than avoiding it is the way to spiritual and societal liberation.
To read my full book review- click here.
Get the Book:
You can purchase the book here (No- it's not Amazon!)
OR you can rent from your local library or try to find it among these following places that offer free audiobooks and Ebooks:
All meetings are 11am-1pm PST/ 2pm-4pm EST and will be held via Zoom video conferencing. After registering, you will receive an email with a link and instructions on how to access the meeting.
Saturday, February 15th, 2020:
Book Worm Package: $40 ($8 per class, non-refundable)
Drop In: $10 per class, specify which dates you are attending in notes
Send payment via one of the below methods*:
*Be sure to include your email in the notes to receive link to attend meetings!
*No one turned away for lack of funds. Email Eri@BirthBruja.com at least two days in advance.
Learn About the Host:
Eri Guajardo Johnson is a bi-racial, trauma-informed birth doula, rape crisis peer counselor, wellness coach, community organizer, and host of the Birth Bruja Podcast.
For over 10 years, Eri has been dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault (with an emphasis on serving marginalized populations); has studied indigenous Mexican and Indian healing modalities to learn about mind, body, spirit, & communal wellness, herbalism, and food as medicine; and has taught and organized countless classes and community events centered around the healing and empowerment of women.
Since 2017, Eri has been dedicated to supporting birthing individuals in cultivating empowering, courageous, and meaningful birth experiences. She offers birth consultation services for survivors of trauma as well as one-on-one and group trainings for birthworkers around supporting survivors who birth.
Learn more at www.BirthBruja.com