Ethan Nichtern welcomes back Kate Johnson for a conversation around ways that the Buddha’s teachings on friendship offer the potential for personal and communal transformation.
Kate Johnson is a meditation teacher, facilitator, and author of Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World. She teaches classes and retreats integrating Buddhist meditation, somatics, social justice and creativity at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Kripalu Center, the Omega Institute, the Rubin Museum NYC, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Kate also works as a culture change consultant, partnering with organizations to help them achieve greater equity and sustainability in their inner and outer work. Learn more about her at katejohnson.com.
Ethan and Kate dig into her new book, Radical Friendship. They explore how the book is not only a commentary on the classic Buddhist friendship sutta, but also on the characteristics of white supremacist culture from the Dismantling Racism workbook. Kate talks about how she was trying to articulate a conviction that the Buddha’s teachings on friendship carry the potential to transform our spiritual life, and also what’s happening in our communities.
“I do think there’s a creative opportunity for those of us studying and practicing this tradition to apply the core principles of what the Buddha taught to what we know to be true now.” – Kate Johnson
Learn more about Kate Johnson as she and Ethan Nichtern speak about dharmic social action on The Road Home Ep. 2
Dharma Leaders (26:25)
Ethan asks Kate about her experience being a Black person in the mostly white world of Buddhist Dharma spaces. Ethan shares his experience as someone who has held a leadership position in some of these spaces, but still felt powerless much of the time. The conversation turns to using one’s power, and the story of journalist Hannah Nicole Jones.
“I mean, I think that’s part of the delusion of these hierarchical systems and these supremacist systems, is that the people who have power don’t feel like they have it, feel like someone else has it, and therefore actually don’t wield it in service of their values in a way that they’d really like to.” – Kate Johnson
Jack Kornfield explores inspired leadership on Heart Wisdom Ep. 52
The Keeping of Secrets (46:25)
Ethan and Kate speak about how it feels like we’re living in a world where we’re not open with our secrets. Kate talks about the connection between keeping secrets and white supremacist culture. They end the show with a conversation about the radical dharma of parenthood, and how parents can learn from their children.
“Part of the stance of radical friendship is it’s about showing up for liberation, but it’s also this inherent belief that every single human being has something to offer and something to teach, and to be able to welcome those lessons with warmth and grace and care is part of my aspiration as a parent.” – Kate Johnson