Awakening our Hearts: Exploring Authentic Relationships Across Difference
A daylong retreat for white meditators
With Howard Cohn, Eugene Cash and Arinna Weismann

Buddhism has as its refuge and vision a heart that is unrestricted, luminous and free. As we practice the eight fold path our hearts begin to open and call us to explore unconscious beliefs and behaviors that cause harm and suffering to others and ourselves. One of the areas this habitual expression takes place is how we as white people are unaware of the ways we build identities of whiteness which cover our hearts and separate us from people of color.

One of the main obstacles to this exploration is that as we prefer to examine ourselves individually to determine whether we carry prejudices and, if we believe that we are “good people” who wouldn’t discriminate, we prefer to adopt a more “color-blind” position. This stance does not take into account that our lived experience includes having “caught” messages about race and having received the benefits of white-skin privilege mostly outside of our awareness. By becoming aware of our group identity as whites and by owning the privileges of access to power and resources, we are able to transform ourselves and our ability to be in authentic relationships across differences. We begin to work towards the creation of multicultural communities by addressing the changes needed to bring about true inclusion. Through this process, we will have the opportunity to create structures and cultural norms that honor everyone in our sanghas.

The exploration we are proposing grows from the premise we always are deserving of love and that self-judgment is a barrier to openheartedness and new learning. Because we understand that this uncovering may touch places of shame and blame, our gathering will be conducted using practices of awareness, loving kindness, patience, truthfulness and the invitation to skill development. As we increase our understanding and deepen our exploration, we may find ourselves experiencing a new freedom of expression unobstructed by constructions of identities around whiteness.

Saturday will include mindfulness in sitting and walking meditation and:

1) Why exploring the dynamics of inequity is a dharma practice,
2) Safety Guidelines for the day,
3) Appreciation of our heritage,
4) Awareness of our complex cultural identities as targets and non-targets,
5) Exploration of early experiences of white privilege,
6) Application of Four Levels to strategic change.

The day will end with metta meditation.

Space is limited. Please register below by giving us your information. There is no registration fee.

Events at the SF Dharma Collective are offered by donation/for dana. The suggested donation for this retreat is $50-120 with no one turned away for lack of funds. Bring a bag lunch or you may buy food nearby. Building is wheelchair accessible. For access questions please email

This retreat was originally titled "Mindful and White."


Arinna Weisman has studied insight meditation since 1979 and has been teaching since 1989. Her root teacher is Ruth Denison who was empowered by the great teacher U Bha Khin. She is co-author of the book, A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO INSIGHT MEDITATION. Arinna's dharma practice and teaching have been infused with her political and environmental activism. She was the first out queer teacher with Eric Kolvig to lead insight meditation retreats for the GLBTQ community. She also leads ‘Uncovering the Heart Retreats’ integrating the practice of awareness of the social dynamics of inequity with the dharma practice of liberation.

Eugene Cash is the founding teacher of the San Francisco Insight Meditation Community of San Francisco. He teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and leads intensive meditation retreats internationally. His teaching is influenced by both Burmese and Thai streams of the Theravada tradition as well as Zen and Tibetan Buddhist practice. He is also a teacher of the Diamond Approach, a school of spiritual investigation and self-realization developed by A. H. Almaas.

Howard Cohn has practiced meditation since 1972, and has led vipassana retreats since 1985. Howard has studied with many Asian and western teachers of several traditions, including Theravada, Zen, Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta, and has been strongly influenced by contact with the Indian master H.W.L. Poonja. He has done postgraduate work in East/West Psychology and has a private counseling practice. He is the Guiding Teacher for Mission Dharma, which has been meeting weekly in the Mission for 33 years.

Email address *
Name *
Your answer
Phone *
Your answer
A copy of your responses will be emailed to the address you provided.
Never submit passwords through Google Forms.
This content is neither created nor endorsed by Google. Report Abuse - Terms of Service