Our Personal Invitation to Heal America’s Racial Karma with Larry Ward, Ph.D.

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America’s racial karma is not a concept but a living reality and no one is likely to be magically exempt from a lifetime of the manifestation of racialized consciousness in this system as white supremacy weaves its deadly pattern through human history over the course of 500 years of social psychology. This includes all of us: White people as well as Blacks, Asian, Native First Peoples, and Hispanic persons. Racialized consciousness is not an intractable condition but a legacy of human thought, speech, and physical behaviors. The good news is that we can transform our collective karma. This moment in our social history compels us to invite ourselves into a path of discovery, learning, and practices to transform that collective karma. As a Black man residing in America, Larry Ward says to those who say, “I am not racist” …We are invited to dismantle the systems that perpetuate that profound misperception of what it means to be human. And, if I was going to use the word racist, it would be for anyone who is still disconnected from their own bodies enough not to experience the pain of that systemic conditioning that lives with us every day and in every moment. If you've grown up separated as we have by race, in particular, by class also, then we don't really have a quality of intimacy to understand one another. So, for me, that begins with coming back to ourselves, our own bodies, our own minds.” He writes, “To overcome injustice, we must not lose our centeredness, our spiritual resilience, and most importantly [we must not lose] our capacity to respond with wisdom, compassion, and action in creating a new world.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was the catalyst that sparked Larry Ward's journey into a life of planetary peacemaking. He's been subjected to racial profiling and has experienced a bombing in his home in Idaho. He was able to move past these traumas when his path led him to the introduction of Buddhist practice in Calcutta in 1977. When he met Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 1991, the practice of Buddhism became truly central to his life. He was ordained as a Dharma teacher in Plum Village in 2000 and is the co-founder of the Lotus Institute, which offers Buddhist practice for change makers on the journey of individual and collective liberation.

Larry Ward, Ph.D. is the author of:

  • America's Racial Karma, And Invitation to Heal (Parallax Press 2020)

To learn more about the work of go to: www.thelotusinstitute.org 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What is the structure of hierarchy of the worthiness of a life in America
  • What is a proper response to “I am not a racist”
  • How our nervous system is impacted by racism
  • What are the five manifestations of the karmic wheel: intention, speech, transmission, retribution, and continuation
  • Why humans are not things or nouns but verbs
  • How the planet itself is sending us retribution and consequences because of our thoughts, speech, and behaviors
  • What are the seeds of our potentiality and tendencies and which ones are wholesome and which ones are unwholesome
  • Why we must erase personal karma and choose the seeds that lead toward justice, peace, and caring
  • What is the meaning of the Buddhist term The Self-Esteem Complex
  • What are the Buddhist five remembrances: growing old, ill-health, death, everything we cherish and love are of the nature to change, my actions are my only true belongings
  • To interrupt the systemic world view on injustice we will need to transform how we think, speak, the language we use, and how we interact in the world that will lead to justice, peace, and caring
  • How our nervous system is designed to be hyper-vigilant. When we are in that state, we cannot truly hear one another
  • How being in nature helps to calm down our nervous systems
  • What has Justine learned from her regular attendance in a multi-racial conversation about racism
  • How our experience of an insane world is because there is some sanity within us 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 7/31/2021   Program Number: 3738

Music Playlist

From Album:  Desert Dance
Artist: R Carlos Nakai
1990 Ancient Harmonies #13033-2

Opening Essay: Track 01 Ancient Ground
Music Break 1: Track  04 Spirit Valley
Music Break 2: Track  03 Ancient Voices
Music Break 3: Track 06 Turquoise Swallows Dance