Ruth King is a Buddhist teacher and founder of Mindful Members Meditation Community in Charlotte, North Carolina. In Buddhism, mysticism is defined differently than it is in Christian context, but it shares a focus on contemplation and direct, embodied experience. Below, Ruth King invites us to begin to heal the racism that divides us through a practice of doing no harm.

Uncertain times are all we have. We never know what’s going to happen—and many of us are afraid, afraid of what’s happening or what might happen to ourselves, to our loved ones, and to other people in the world that are suffering from racial distress, injury, separation, and fundamental hatred that’s really pervasive right now in the world. . . .

The challenge we have now is how to navigate the certainty of racism in these uncertain times. Racism is a heart disease. And it’s curable. It requires a transplant, a surgical intervention of mindfulness and heartfulness. To heal the heart, we must understand the mind. Jiddu Krishnamurti [1895–1986] said it this way:

If you don’t know how your mind reacts, if your mind is not aware of its own activities, you will never find out what society is . . . because your mind is part of society; it is society. . . . It is not distinct from your culture, from your religion, from your various class divisions, from the ambitions and conflicts of the many. All this is society, and you are part of it. There is no “you” separate from society. [1]

We must therefore ask ourselves: How do we work with our thoughts and our beliefs in ways that nurture the dignity of all life? How do we ensure justice without fostering generations of harm and hate internally and externally? How do we comfort our own raging heart in a sea of racial ignorance, ill will, and violence? And how can our actions reflect the world we want to live in and leave to future generations? These are questions about how to respond with both heart and mind, while being awake and wise.

I like to offer practices that support racial awareness and well-being. This practice is the practice of doing no harm. It has to do with conduct and it has to do with us setting an intention; it’s not just words that we speak, as if it were a New Year’s resolution. It’s actually a life practice that supports us in regularly aligning our heart and mind with our actions. So, it’s important to set an intention and reflect on it often. This intention is about doing no harm in our speech, our actions, or in our thoughts.

Maintaining a contemplative practice like this is a first step in investing in a culture of care and contributing to an atmosphere of kindness.