I have been looking for ways to bridge contemplative mind and body practices, Unitarian Universalist Principles and values (especially around social justice), and find a meditation structure that would interest our youth and young adults. In my Fahs fellowship research, I conducted a survey of UU religious professionals and volunteers to understand how they are using meditation in their current setting and how they envision the role of contemplative practice (mindfulness meditation, compassion practice and etc.) in their congregations.
The survey results show that there is a need in our congregations for practical meditation practices, that are easy to teach, and that seamlessly integrate into the lives of participants and programs of the congregations. The results also show that there is also a need for a tool to both cope with and respond to traumatic events that arise in our communities.
In the course of my research, this country was jolted into an awareness of the plight of African-American men in our all too often racist and violent country. In response, I co-created a course held currently being held in Berkeley, CA around bringing the wisdom of Buddhist practice to the issue of the African American experience of racism. What we have found in this series of courses is that many well-meaning white people are feeling discouraged by the revelation that racism and oppression are still alive and real for Black people in this country. They want to take action but many are dissatisfied that many years of scholarship in critical race theory and years of racial justice work has, as of yet, not been able to effectively uproot racism in this country. I listened deeply to people who expressed the hope that spirituality, especially, body-mind meditation practice might offer an opportunity to non-violently and effectively respond to social ills.
As a results of my Fahs research and pulling from my Buddhist training; I am developing a community of youth and adult practitioners, who will simultaneously develop their own meditation practices while learning to lead meditation instruction in their communities. The project, Mutuality Movement, culminates in individuals and communities who are spiritually mature and prepared to carefully engage in the practice of solidarity activism.
Mutuality Movement is a contemplative response to the Black Lives Matter movement that provides tools for youth and young adults to affect change through the practices of solidarity and meditation. Acknowledging the youth leadership in the Black Lives Matter movement, Mutuality Movement trains youth and young adults to lead public meditation sessions, focused on the development of compassion while offering a non-violent opportunity to publicly resist systems of injustice. Mutuality Movement also encourages the development of covenant groups or sanghas, whose primary practice will be to respond non-violently to the problem of racism in America.
Rooted in Buddhist meditation, it is compatible with Unitarian Universalism in teaching mutuality in praxis. Mutuality being that understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings and the resultant covenantal commitments to be in supportive and advocating relationships with our fellow humans. This program offers the opportunity to expand our faith beyond the walls of our congregations and into those communities in need of a sacred commitment from justice-oriented and faithful individuals.
If you are interested in hearing more please contact Rev. Scott through the Mutuality Movement website (scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your contact information.)
The Rev. M. Jamil Scott serves as the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno and is a 2014 Fahs Collaborative contemplative education research fellow in collaboration with Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary. He is completing his Divinity studies at Naropa University and is an ordained Buddhist minister by the International Order of Buddhist Ministers. Rev. Jamil is active in faith based social justice work with the organizing group Faith in Community and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.