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Johnson offers a new and effective model for navigating differences and building real connections: true friendship. Drawing on her own experience growing up biracial in the Midwest and her experience as a Buddhist teacher, she shows how connecting deeply across differences can be a powerful tool for social change.
Current zeitgeist urges us to be mindful, to take a path often described as "awakening." When we wake up in the 21st century, though, we are waking up to a world in which many people are suffering. We have all contributed to inequitable social systems, and we know there are institutions in which many are oppressed. Acknowledging the suffering of separation and recognizing our own contributions to it can be enough to make us want to go to back to sleep.
Friendship as Freedom offers perspectives and practices from the Buddha's teachings and places them in conversation with Black, feminist, disability, and queer studies frameworks to help reframe, contextualize, and integrate experiences of waking up in a way that moves us toward individual and collective liberation. Our personal awakening can lead to an interpersonal enlightenment experience.
Johnson shows how we can extend our awakening to oppression out to community, and even to friendship: true friendship, a relationship with ourselves and others that allows us to enact and embody freedom, in our social structures, in our politics, in our spirits. The spiritual idea of expanding friendship out to all is one that exists in every major religious and secular humanist tradition. Such friendship is an affirmation of our belief that all of us are interconnected, regardless of race, class, body size, immigration status, or any other characteristic of social identity or experience.
About the Author
Kate Johnson teaches and writes at the intersections of spiritual practice and social action. She offers meditation and movement workshops for people of all ages, and facilitates training for schools, businesses, and organizations looking for mindful embodied approaches to cultivate greater diversity and inclusion. Kate is on staff at Buddhist Peace Fellowship where she co-creates online programs integrating Buddhadharma and social justice education. After over a decade of spirit and hustle in New York City, Kate recently moved to Philadelphia.
Kate has been practicing Buddhist meditation in the western Insight tradition since 2008. She is a trainee in the current cohort of Spirit Rock Meditations Center's four-year program for Buddhist meditation retreat teachers. Kate holds a BFA in Dance from The Alvin Ailey School/Fordham University and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University