“I am a drop in the ocean, but I’m also the ocean. I’m a drop in America, but I’m also America. Every pain, every confusion, every good and every bad and ugly of America is in me. And as I transform myself and heal and take care of myself, I’m very conscious that I’m healing and transforming and taking care of America. I say this for American cynics, but this is also true globally. It’s for real.” So says Zen Buddhist teacher Larry Ward.
Shot at by police as an 11-year-old child for playing baseball in the wrong spot, as an adult Dr. Ward continued to experience racialized trauma when his home was firebombed by racists. At Plum Village Monastery in France, he found a way to heal with his teacher, Vietnamese peace activist and Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
Dr. Ward’s work examines the causes and conditions that have led us to our current state, and he finds—hidden in the crisis—a profound opportunity to reinvent what it means to be a human being. This is an invitation to transform America’s racial karma. In Dr. Ward's latest book, America's Racial Karma: An Invitation to Heal, he offers his insights on the effects of racial constructs and answers the question: How do we free ourselves from repeated cycles of anger, denial, bitterness, pain, fear, and violence?
Join Alka Arora, CIIS associate professor of Women’s Spirituality for a conversation with Dr. Ward as he shares what he has learned through his own life and work, and invites us to transform our society and heal our racial karma.
Please note that this talk/conversation will be hosted live online and includes an audience Q&A. Instructions on how to join the conversation will be included in your event confirmation email. If you need additional assistance finding or joining the event, please email email@example.com.
Larry Ward, PhD (pronouns- he/him) is a senior Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh's Plum Village tradition. Dr. Ward brings twenty-five years of international experience in organizational change and local community renewal to his work as director of the Lotus Institute and as an advisor to the Executive Mind Leadership Institute at the Drucker School of Management.
Alka Arora, PhD is associate professor of Women’s Spirituality at CIIS, where she has been teaching since 2011. She also served as the department chair from 2012-2016, during which time she developed the MA program in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice. Alka’s scholarship is focused on four interrelated areas of inquiry: spiritual activism, multiracial feminisms, vegan ecofeminism, and transformative pedagogy. She uses what she calls an integral feminist pedagogy in her teaching, inviting students to see social justice work as a form of sacred praxis.
While raised Hindu, Alka developed an interest in Buddhism while in graduate school, and spent many years engaged in dharma teachings and insight meditation. The tradition of engaged Buddhism, particularly as articulated by Thich Nhat Hanh, has significantly influenced her approach to feminism and social justice.
Alka’s current work is focused on envisioning a fourth wave of feminism that integrates spiritual wisdom, eco-social activism, racial justice, and gender reconciliation. She is also a certified lead facilitator with Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GERI), a non-profit organization that draws on the power of truth-telling and dialogue to transform gender relations.