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A spiritual, political, and interdisciplinary anthology of wisdom stories from Black liberation leaders and teachers.
Afrikan Wisdom represents an intersectional, cross-pollinated exploration of Black life--past, present, and future. Award-winning author and editor Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara)'s collection of 34 essays--written by an eclectic and inspirational group of Black thought leaders and teachers--reflects on the unique and multilayered experience of being Black in the world today.
This anthology instills in readers the knowledge, awareness, validation, and spiritual tools necessary to nurture both individual and collective liberation. It is both an inspiration and a motivation for Black readers, as well as anyone else interested in reading about emerging spiritual voices. Topics include:
• African and Afro-Diasporan cultures, histories, spiritualities, art, music, and literature
• Black radical traditions of liberation and consciousness
• Anticolonialism and antislavery
• Buddhist philosophy
• Social and environmental justice
• The prison industrial complex and mass incarceration
• (Kemetic) yoga, healing, and mindfulness
• Intersections with Indigenous cultures
• Addiction and recovery
• Transgenerational trauma
About the Author
VALERIE MASON-JOHN (Author, Editor) is a public speaker and master trainer in the fields of conflict transformation, leadership, and mindfulness. They are the award-winning author/editor of nine books. Their debut novel, Borrowed Body, won the 2006 Mind Book of the Year Award. They co-edited the award-winning anthology The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry and co-produced blackhalifax.com. The co-authored Eight Step Recovery: Using The Buddha's Teaching to Overcome Addiction, which was the winner of the Best USA Book Award 2014 and Best International Book Award 2015 in the self-motivational and self-help category. Their most recent book, published in 2020, I Am Still Your Negro: An Homage to James Baldwin, has won critical acclaim.
Mason-John is the cocreator of Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery (MBAR) and is a certified professional Mindfulness Teacher, Recovery Coach, Life Coach, and a Compassionate Inquiry Facilitator and Practitioner. They have been practicing mindfulness for over 30 years and are one of the leading African-descent voices in the field of mindfulness and addiction, training professionals working in the field of addiction all over the world.
Mason-John--also known as Vimalasara--was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Community and is a senior teacher in this tradition. They are the chairperson of the Triratna Vancouver Buddhist Centre in British Columbia, Canada, and leads retreats nationally and internationally. They live in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“A celebration and a cry, a rich treasure chest and a brilliant contribution to the awakening of all.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart
“This unique and timely collection is a deep dive into the intersections of Black Liberation and spiritual freedom from a perspective sorely missing from the vast body of Buddhist writings. It is the inspired vision of its editor, Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara), who begins their intro with a quote from Fred Hampton, the Black Panther revolutionary, and goes on to make poignant connections between the breath too often denied to Black people (I Can’t Breathe) to the foundational breath of meditation. This compelling book is a must-read for all those seeking social, cultural, and spiritual liberation.”
—Pratibha Parmar, filmmaker and professor
“What does it mean for Black folks to be free? In this uncommon collection of essays, Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara) has gathered together a fascinating, multifaceted selection of perspectives that explore the intersection of spirituality, liberation, and Blackness. This is one of those rare books that offers a holistic experience of illumination, as it unpacks the multifold path of Black Diasporic freedom in depth—through writing that ignites our mind while enriching our spirit.”
—Andrea Thompson, author and educator
“Afrikan Wisdom is such an important offering to and for African Diasporic people as we come to understand our traditional relationship to mindfulness and Buddhadharma. This book will help us continue dreaming and living into more liberated futures.”
—Lama Rod Owens, author of Love and Rage
“This is an important undertaking; a wealth of insights and resources that reminds us that contemplative practice must find unique expression within each culture and identity. To be truly liberatory in modern lives, ancient wisdom must also meet head-on the most pressing challenges of our times. This collection is a vital part of that work, and a gift to us all.”
—Jamie Bristow, author and clerk of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness
“This fascinating volume examines the topic of Black Liberation from a wide range of perspectives. Since it arose from a recent and historic gathering of Buddhist teachers and scholars of African descent, most of the contributions have a Buddhist slant but there are also essays from Christian, Muslim, and Rastafarian viewpoints. It is rich with eye-opening history and with different authors’ takes on such challenging issues as nonviolence, the balance between mediation and external activism, the whiteness of American Buddhism, spiritual bypassing, and how to deal mindfully with systemic racism. This is an important book that comes at a time when the influence of racism in the US has rarely been more overtly supported and new voices on Black Liberation more needed.”
—Richard Schwartz, PhD, developer of the Internal Family Systems psychotherapy and adjunct faculty, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“Detailed liturgies for Buddhists of color appear amid the rich theorizing and individual reflections. These bite-size and profound essays are a powerful introduction to the overlooked possibilities of Black Buddhism.”
"The variety and breadth of offerings in this anthology will inform and inspire those who seek true liberation for all."