Ethan Nichtern – The Road Home – Ep. 42 – We White Men Have a Lot to Learn w/ Oren Jay Sofer

Ethan Nichtern - The Road Home - Ep. 42 - We White Men Have a Lot to Learn w/ Oren J. Sofer

Mindfulness and meditation teacher Oren Jay Sofer returns to the Road Home Podcast for a conversation with Ethan around what they as white men still have to learn about unseen bias and the roles they play in systemic injustice.

Oren Jay Sofer teaches meditation, mindfulness and Nonviolent Communication nationally. A member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, he is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, and co-author of Teaching Mindfulness to Empower AdolescentsHe’s on social media @Orenjaysofer
Taking Responsibility For Our Karma

What are the roles and responsibilities of privileged individuals, particularly white men, in healing systemic social injustice? How can white men go about helping one another do the inner-work that they need to do for themselves without continuing to overshadow voices which need to be heard most?

“Being in the Dharma seat, the role of Dharma teacher, and working on teams that have more diversity on them – I can see how for many years that I had an idea in my own mind that this does not apply to me. That because I am a meditator and because I value kindness, compassion, and awareness I don’t act out sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression and unconscious privilege. For me, one of the most important shifts in realization has been the recognition that just because I have good values and intentions does not mean that stuff is not in here. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have huge blinders and places of ignorance where I do or say something that really causes harm for someone else.” – Oren Jay Sofer

The Privilege of Seeing Yourself As An Individual (8:15)

Ethan and Oren explore how being outside of the dominant group can strip away individual identity and affect the way that a person is experienced in the world. What can members of the dominant culture do to better understand their role in systemic bias and reduce the harm that they contribute?

Explore how understanding implicit bias can allow us to operate in the world with greater awareness and compassion on Ep. 9 of the ReRooted Podcast with guests Percy Ballard and Kate Lingren.
Dharma, Dominant Culture & the Devil’s Advocate (26:30)

How does the dominant culture show up in Dharma spaces? Oren and Ethan discuss how the Dharma can be misused to cause harm and reinforce the very attachments that practitioners seek liberation from.

We White Men Have a Lot to Learn (38:00)

Why do why men so often get defensive when privilege is called out? What does this defensiveness have to say about how much white men have to learn about their own biases and the way that they engage with the rest of the world?

“The feedback that shakes me out of those places of unconsciousness is jarring. If I am not practicing – if wholesome mental factors are not present and there isn’t mindfulness and some level of balance in the mind – then reactivity will take over, rather than being able to feel the discomfort. To feel the impulse to want to defend myself, but not need to act on it. To just be able to tolarate that discomfort and understand it as part of my own learning, of unconditioning my own mind from the white supremacy that I have internalized. That is going to be uncomfortable because it is letting go of power.” – Oren Jay Sofer  

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Images via Take Part and Oren Jay Sofer