Cover Image: Home Is Here

Home Is Here

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Home is Here is a good book about dealing with different aspects of racism through Soto Zen Buddhist teaching. I really enjoyed learning more about it & I thought the book was well written.
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Home is Here – a modern and accessible Anti-Racism teaching based on Soto Zen Buddhist principles. Set to be published on August 22nd, 2023. Much thanks to NetGalley for giving me an advanced reader copy.

What I love the most about Home is Here is its relevance to the contemporary life. Rev. Lien Shutt is a guiding teacher and Buddhist monk in the Insight & Zen tradition. In this book, she connects Buddhism to the struggles that we face today; such as social media, modern meditation, and the way we interact with others. The teaching here is more accessible, easier to understand, and was explained in greater context than most traditional Buddhist texts. I also enjoyed the practice pauses included. They’ve provided me with some great exercises in awareness and introspection.

There were a few things that I thought didn’t quite work for me. One, the incessant tirade on white supremacy. In fact, the term “white supremacy” was brought up so frequently, I felt like I saw it every other sentence! Two, every single example of racism that Rev. Shutt provided was about something that some white people did. News flash, people of color can be racist too! I would have loved to see more academic/educational statistics and information; as I thought the personal anecdotes in this book were fairly weak examples of racism. Two that I remember specifically:

- Rev. Shutt wrote about a story where she went grocery shopping with her white girlfriend; she handed the cashier her credit card, but after the cashier finished scanning all the items, he ran the card, and returned it to the white girlfriend (cue her upset about why the card wasn’t returned to her). This sounds 100% like an honest mistake from the cashier’s part; not a teaching moment about racism. I used to work as a cashier at a clothing store, and I can guarantee you that I don’t remember people’s faces even during the interaction sometimes! We’re there to ring your items, not memorize your face.
- Another story – somebody told the author that she’s not “truly Vietnamese” because she barely speaks any Vietnamese. I get that she might feel hurt by it, but languages are closely tied to culture and identity. I’m half Chinese but don’t speak a lick of Chinese, so I don’t get offended when people tell me I’m not Chinese!

Even though this wasn’t a perfect book for me, I’m still glad I had the opportunity to read Home is Here. It’s definitely a book to savor slowly and intentionally. I feel like I’m a more thoughtful and connected person from absorbing these lessons.
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This is a very insightful and important book, especially for Buddhist practitioners of color. Lien Shutt has infused this very readable modern commentary on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path with her own lived experience as a as a Soto Zen priest; as a Vietnamese immigrant, adopted by a white American couple; and and as a lesbian.

Two of Buddhism's foundational tenets, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, are explored deeply through an anti-racist lens. Throughout the book Rev. Shutt provides painful examples of both conscious and unconscious racism she has experienced in practice centers and on retreats in America and Japan. For example, there is a common belief among white American Buddhists that Buddhism only emerged in the US in the 1950s. In fact, Asian immigrants, Chinese immigrants in particular, introduced Buddhism into America in the 19th century. Not confronting this historical inaccuracy contributes to the invisibilization of Asian American lives and contributions.

Racism is a poison, based on delusion and exclusion. It is a source of suffering and therefore can be address using traditional Buddhist practices and concepts, as Rev. Shutt very skillfully shows. She offers very concrete practices (including using a mala, and many meditation guides) on the path to healing. This book is both a loving self-help book for people of color and a call to action for all Buddhists to confront the ignorance and suffering that is racism. This book also adds to the growing body of literature on engaged Buddhism, or how to apply ancient Buddhist insights to contemporary social issues, towards the goal of social justice.

It would be difficult to praise this book too highly. It offers both a practical approach and a deeply spiritual path to everyone interested in freeing themselves and living a more open, just and meaningful life.
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This book is about practicing antiracism with an engaged Eightfold Path. The.three parts of this profound book corresponds to three eight fold path factors.  Part 1 ,Seeing the World as it is, includes Skillful Viewin and Skillful concentration. Part ii, what the world Needd, included Skillful Motivation, Skillful Effort,Skilful Mindfulnes, skillful speech. Part 3, realizing the wholeness of the mind, included Skillful Enactment and Skillful Living. Appendix. Notes.
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