The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender

“Manuel’s teaching is a thought-provoking, much-needed addition to contemporary Buddhist literature.”Publishers Weekly

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 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.

The foreword was written by Dr. Charles Johnson who  is the author of four novels Faith and the Good Thing (1974), Oxherding Tale (1982),  Middle Passage (1990), and Dreamer (Scribner, l998); three collection of short stories, and several dharma books including Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories, and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice (Shambhala Publications).


“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, conventional selves. In this way our race, gender and sexuality become sites for our awakening rather than illusions to be transcended. —Jan Willis, Author of

 “A transformative invitation, a breathtakingly courageous 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 acknowledging and healing the hatred in our own hearts and in the world..This is a groundbreaking book, the beginning of a whole new conversation in the Dharma. –Zenshin Florence Caplow, coauthor of The Hidden Lamp.

“Zenju write with such gentle poetic intelligence that the reader’s experience of the truth she tells feels more like a caress than a jab. Zenju has forged wise and profound equanimity—a Way of Tenderness. — Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Training in Compassion.

 “The offering of her teachings are both the Path and the Fruit.” — Larry Yang, Author of Awakening Together

Please first ask your local bookstore to order the book or order from, or the publisher Wisdom Publications.

Also available at AUDIBLE.COM. A sample reading is available there.


The book was featured in Buddhadharma Buddhist Journal – click on the name here:  The Wisdom In My Bones_Zenju Earthlyn Manuel-1

Here are some reviews of my book: