Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community is about processes of building, developing, nurturing and sustaining inclusive and diverse communities. The book explores and develops skills that are so needed in a world that can feel fragmented and separate. The practice of community always takes more time than we think, more efforts than we can imagine, more issues than we are aware of, and more contributions than we think we need. However, the outcomes also produce joys and achievements greater than can be wished for, expected, planned, or predicted. Awakening Together is a personal narrative and a historical record of applied learnings concerning how individuals and multiple communities both aspire to collective freedom, and create the actual path towards that awakening together.
As with all of our Dharma journeys, our practice is not simply about the idealized outcomes of liberation or enlightenment. It is the path we take to get there that is equally indispensable to the experience of freedom. The path and the fruit, the ends and the means, are dependent upon each other and are one and the same. Likewise, the personal and the collective are one and the same awakening. Practice is all about freedom, as is this book.
Comments about Awakening Together:
“I don’t see how Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community, could be better. It is so wise, thoughtful, dedicated to our healthful growth, ease and enlightenment through the Dharma, that I know I will be reading it for years to come. Larry Yang seems to have thought of everything we will need as we venture bravely forward – through racism, prejudice, ignorance, and poor home training – into the free spiritual beings we were meant to be. Together.”
—Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
“Awakening Together combines the intimately personal, the Buddhist and universal into a loving, courageous, important work that will benefit all who read it. For anyone who longs to collaborate and create a just and inclusive community, Larry provides a brilliant guidebook.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart
“How do we embrace our different identities and discover our innate and shared belonging? In Awakening Together, Buddhist teacher and diversity/inclusivity activist Larry Yang invites us to extend our practice on the cushion into a collective practice of understanding and compassion. Inspiring, compelling and deeply wise, Awakening Together is essential reading as we seek to heal our own hearts, our communities and our world.”
—Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“Larry Yang, acknowledged as a pioneer in consistently insisting on the essential diversity and anti-racism work needed in many contemporary spiritual communities, generously and brilliantly leads us through his manifold experiences of belonging and exclusion to his hard-earned lessons in bringing heartfulness and rigorous learning to such work. What a gift Awakening Together (a timely and essential offering) gives, to learn how, through the lessons of past experience and the lens of future needs, we can build sanghas that represent the illuminating and joyous presence that true diversity brings. Thank you, Larry.”
—Gina Sharpe, co-founder, New York Insight Meditation Center
“Larry Yang’s voice, heart, and insight in Awakening Together can be both trusted and radically illuminating. We do indeed need each other for any of us to awaken to our true nature as human beings. Mindfulness practice has to be about inclusivity and diversity and justice if it is to be kind and compassionate and wise. If we truly “inter-are” as Thich Nhat Hanh asserts, then, as this book shows, we have to widen our scope of what is worthy of our attention. Parts of this book may make some people in the greater mindfulness community uncomfortable. It certainly was true in my case. That is precisely why it is particularly valuable to read and reflect upon and learn from. We need trusted others to show us our blind spots, our tacit assumptions, and our ignorance. I highly recommend this elegant, highly personal, and hopefully profoundly influential book.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses
“A marvelous book, unstoppable in its promise. The integrity and timeliness of Larry Yang’s teaching has the power of an incoming tide.”
—Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life
“This book is a much needed call to revolution for the western Buddhist communities. Larry has clearly and wisely pointed out the path we must travel to overthrow the systems of oppression and separation that plague our society and are mirrored in the sangha. Read this book and change!”
—Noah Levine, Dharma Punx
“In Awakening Together, Larry Yang shares an in-depth personal journey and his professional experience of wise and actionable guidance for building inclusive Buddhist communities. A must read for anyone interested in understanding the integrities of belonging.”
—Ruth King, dharma teacher, life coach, and author of Healing Rage and Mindful of Race
“Awakening Together is filled with love. Larry Yang, plants your feet, offers his hand, and without hesitation opens our eyes. His teachings on creating and sustaining communities that welcome the full range of our life experiences, are clear and poignant. He skillfully walks us into a vision of an inclusive spiritual home in which we can unfold and reveal our true selves. As a seasoned, and well-loved dharma teacher, his long-awaited gift satisfies the soul that yearns to be seen. Deep bows, beloved friend, for this offering.”
—Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, ordained Zen Buddhist priest and author of The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
“For the first time — a Dharma book that is a roadmap showing collective pathways out of social suffering. In a voice both passionate and wise, Larry Yang guides us to co-create spiritual communities that embrace the pain of oppression and inequity as integral to the ground of compassion and liberatory spiritual practice.”
—Mushim Ikeda, core teacher, EBMC
“Larry Yang insightfully shares his immense journey through the painful territory of marginalization within a dominant culture. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in building and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, empowered, wise and compassionate community.”
—Kittisaro and Thanissara, authors of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism
Larry Yang’s Awakening Together seamlessly blends the personal with the political. He helps us to see that waking up in all forms is an essential spiritual practice– and that nothing is excluded, including the thorny areas of race, culture, and identity. Larry is a thought leader in this work and his compassionate insight shines through as a guide to us all. This book is a game-changer.
—Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and co-author of Fully Present: The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness
Larry Yang’s book Awakening Together captures the real heart of a Buddhist practitioner who fully honors the Three Treasures and understands their importance to faith and practice. These pages exude his deep love of the Dharma and the ways in which it is important to not only embody the spirit of the Buddha, but also to follow his teachings. Above all, what stands out is the absolute respect for the value of Sangha. Like no other that I have encountered, Larry conveys the deep importance of ‘inclusion’ that responds to the Buddha’s words “I see all beings equally. I have no partiality for them.” In so doing, he provides a profound teaching of how to be inclusive and how to practice faith in community. This book is a real treasure, and a map to great awakenings in our worldwide sangha.
—Myokei Caine Barrett, Shonin