#343 What Everyone Who Meditates Should Know | Chenxing Han and Duncan Ryūken Williams

Ten Percent Happier
May 3, 2021
#343 What Everyone Who Meditates Should Know | Chenxing Han and Duncan Ryūken Williams
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

If you meditate (or do yoga, for that matter), you may have been taught by a Westerner, but you owe a gigantic debt of gratitude to the giants and geniuses over in Asia who developed these practices. This fact can be overlooked or downplayed -- intentionally or otherwise -- by Western practitioners, including, sometimes, me. However, in the midst of a spike of anti-Asian violence, now seems like a very good time to learn more about where these practices came from, and why many Asian-American Buddhists sometimes feel erased. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it can also add depth and perspective and freshness to your practice. In this episode, we have two fascinating guests who will talk about what it’s been like for them to be Asian American Buddhists in the midst of this spate of hate crimes, and walk us through the long and ugly history of anti-Buddhist violence in America. We also talk about: how all meditators (not just people in vulnerable communities) can learn resiliency through meditation; the connection between karma and reparations; and whether it’s possible, or advisable, to generate goodwill towards people who hate you. We also have a frank conversation about how some of my own messaging about Buddhism in America has missed the mark. 

My guests are: Chenxing Han, who is the author of Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Graduate Theological Union. And, Duncan Ryūken Williams, who is the author of American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Reed and a Ph.D. in Religion from Harvard. He is currently a professor at the University of Southern California. He’s also a Zen Priest. Both Duncan and Chenxing are helping to organize a national ceremony -- which will take place the day after we post this interview -- on the 49-day anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings that took the lives of several Asians and Asian-Americans.

One thing to say before we dive in: we are dedicating this whole week to the spike in hate crimes against members of the AAPI community. On Wednesday, we’ll talk to Mushim Ikeda, a Buddhist teacher, about how all of us can use meditation to deal with anger, uncertainty, self-loathing. 

By the way, are you interested in teaching mindfulness to teens? Looking to carve your own path and share this practice in a way that feels real, authentic, and relevant in today’s world? Our friends at iBme are accepting applications for their Mindfulness Teacher Training program - catered towards working with teens and young adults. The last round of applications are due May 15th and scholarships are available. For more information and to apply, check out: ibme.com/teachertraining.

And finally, we want to deeply thank and recognize mental health professionals for your support. For a year's FREE access to the app and hundreds of meditations and resources visit tenpercent.com/mentalhealth.

Where to find Chenxing Han online: 


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Where to find Duncan Ryūken Williams online: 


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One final item of business, and it is an invitation for you to participate in this show. In June, we’ll be launching a special series of podcast episodes focusing on anxiety, something I’m sure we’re all too familiar with. In this series, you’ll become intimately familiar with the mechanics of anxiety: how and why it shows up and what you may be doing to feed it. 

And this is where you come in. We’d love to hear from you with your questions about anxiety that experts will answer during our anxiety series on the podcast. So whether you’re struggling with social anxiety, anxiety about re-entering the world post-Covid, or have any other questions about anxiety - we want to hear from you. To submit a question or share a reflection call (646) 883-8326 and leave us a voicemail. If you’re outside the United States, you can email us a voice memo file in mp3 format to listener@tenpercent.com. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, May 12th.