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2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

East Bay Meditation Center


Join Zenju reading from her book The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender from a Dhrama perspective at East Bay Meditation Center on May 17th from 2 pm – 4 pm.  She will answer questions and sign your book.  NOTE: YOU MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT AT  http://may15tenderness.eventbrite.com

Speaking from her book, The Way of Tenderness, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel will share her teachings on an embodied dharma that admits the ways that appearance and sexual orientation shapes one’s spiritual questions and therefore one’s path. In a movement between her teachings and biography she holds up the light to Buddhist rhetoric of transcendence often used as a form of spiritual bypass, a sidestepping of the difficult questions of identity that when left unasked inevitably fracture a sangha. She acknowledges the tenderness that comes from not only compassion and love but also from pain and suffering that the body becomes “the location of awakened experience.”

In The Way of Tenderness, Zen priest Zenju Earthlyn Manuel brings Buddhist philosophies of emptiness and appearance to bear on race, sexuality, and gender, using wisdom forged through personal experience and practice to rethink problems of identity and privilege. Manuel brings her own experiences as a lesbian black woman into conversation with Buddhism to square our ultimately empty nature with superficial perspectives of everyday life. Her hard-won insights reveal that dry wisdom alone is not sufficient to heal the wounds of the marginalized; an effective practice must embrace the tenderness found where conventional reality and emptiness intersect. Only warmth and compassion can cure hatred and heal the damage it wreaks within us. This is a book that will teach us all.


“Zenju Earthlyn Manuel knows both the tyranny of
conventional appearances and their ultimate nature.
She knows that in order to tread the path to ultimate
insight we must use the whole of our ordinary, conven-
tional selves. In this way, our race, gender, and sexual-
ity become sites for our awakening rather than illusions
to be transcended. Read her lucid and honest words
with attention and with tenderness.”
—Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me, Black, Baptist and Buddhist

“Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, one of only a small num-
ber of African American Buddhist priests, has written
a transformative invitation, a breathtakingly coura-
geous and heartfelt call to bring our full humanity—
our bodies, our pain, our wounds, our differences—to
the path. Her ‘way of tenderness’ is a way of acknowl-
edging and healing the hatred in our own hearts and
in the world. I am filled with gratitude for Zenju’s
embodied and compassionate revisioning of Buddhist
teachings. This is a groundbreaking book, the begin-
ning of a whole new conversation in the Dharma.”
—Zenshin Florence Caplow, coauthor of The Hidden

“This is such an unusual book! Yes, it’s a Buddhist
book, and yes, it’s about race, sexuality, and gender
as crucial entry-points into the teaching (rather than
false identities to be sloughed off). But it’s not what you
think. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel writes with such gentle
poetic intelligence that the reader’s experience of the
truth she tells feels more like a caress than a jab. Of her
own difficult experiences, Earthlyn has forged wise and
profound equanimity—a Way of Tenderness.”
—Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Training in

“Reverend Zenju illuminates many aspects of the First
Noble Truth that are invisible to and occluded by the
dominant culture of Western Dharma. She does so with
force of Truthfulness and the tenderness of Grace. In
this way, the offering of her teachings are both the Path
and the Fruit.”
—Larry Yang, core teacher at the East Bay Meditation