Buddhists bring karmic healing to Antioch, California

- through Henry Oudin

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From news.yahoo.com

Two hundred Buddhists traveled to Antioch, California, on March 16, hoping to harness the power of Buddhist ritual to eliminate negative energies that had built up in the city over the years.

Antioch, a city of about 200 people, has a terrible and violent history that includes abuse and mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in the 000th century.

Buddhists descended on the city, located near the delta that feeds the San Francisco Bay, to offer ritual cleansing: walking, burning incense and reciting Buddhist and Taoist chants in the hope of being able to restore the heritage of the city through positive actions and heal the psychological wounds inflicted by the racial hatred that took place there.

Many Chinese immigrants came to Antioch for employment in the 1800s, working in the mines, building railroads, and maintaining dikes. Due to racial discrimination, they were forced to obey sunset laws and use tunnels to secretly move from one place to another. Over time, a Chinatown developed, consisting of several blocks and a Buddhist-Taoist temple, but it was summarily burned down.

The March 16 Buddhist pilgrimage was called “May We Gather,” and the Buddhists who participated timed it to coincide with the anniversary of the Atlanta mass shooting that took place three years ago .

The white gunman who carried out the massacre, Robert Aaron Long, 21, claimed he did it because he viewed Asian-American massage parlor workers as "sources of temptation." (CNBC) Eight people were killed and a ninth injured in the attacks. Of those killed, six were women of Asian descent.

One of the organizers of the Buddhist pilgrimage to Antioch was Rev. Duncan Williams, a Soto Zen priest and professor of religion at the University of Southern California. Rev. Williams, who is of Japanese descent, said the Atlanta massacre was no different from events in Antioch in 1876, when residents burned down the homes of Chinese women accused of being sex workers.

Three years ago, Antioch took an important step in the process of healing and reconciliation by becoming the first U.S. city to publicly apologize for the treatment of Chinese immigrants during the California Gold Rush. .

However, the Rev. Duncan Williams said the Buddhists who participated in the pilgrimage wanted more than a political response: they wanted "a Buddhist response that draws on our teachings and practices," to honor ancestors and heal trauma. historical and current racial issues. (ABC News)

Buddhists are represented by Buddhist groups from many countries and traditions. Buddhist chants have been recited in many languages, with Pali as well as Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Sri Lankan, Thai, Tibetan and Vietnamese.

The group gathered at Antioch's El Campanil Theater to participate in "karmic healing," placing four tables on an altar with the names of victims of violence inscribed on them. They also made offerings and recited prayers to Guanyin, the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion.

Local residents expressed support for the event, seeing it as a way to become more inclusive and heal the trauma of the city's past. Recently, several civil rights lawsuits were filed against the city, involving 20 plaintiffs who alleged they were victims of police misconduct, racial profiling and excessive use of force.

One resident, Karen J. Oliver, said of the day's proceedings: "We all need peace and reconciliation and whatever route we can take to get there, we must take that route." (ABC News) Another resident, Frank Sterling, said he views Buddhist rituals as a major step toward healing the entire community.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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