Lama Rod Owens Returns to Durham!

In all great religions there is a tradition which proclaims that our liberation is bound up in the liberation of all beings. We cannot get free until others are free.

This ethic helps us to work on behalf of all beings making sure we keep the needs of others centered along with our needs. To work on behalf of all beings, we have to be willing to dialogue and explore all the hidden, and not so hidden, things that keep us from allying with each other on the liberation project. Dialogue can draw us together to uncover what keeps us from freedom as a community.

Details below.




About Lama Rod Owens
Lama Rod Owens is the Guiding Teacher for the Radical Dharma Boston Collective and teaches with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), where he is also a faculty member for the organization’s teacher training program. He holds a Masters of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School with a focus on the intersection of social change, identity, and spiritual practice. He is a co-author of Radical Dharma, Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, which explores race in the context of American Buddhist communities. He has been published and featured in several publications including Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and Spirit Magazine. He has offered talks, retreats, and workshops for many organizations and universities including New York University, Yale University, Harvard University, Tufts University, University of Vermont, and Boston College. Lama Rod facilitates undoing patriarchy workshops for male identified practitioners in Brooklyn and Boston and his current writing project is an exploration of intersectional masculinity and spirituality. Lama Rod is officially recognized by the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 // 2 to 5 PM
Interfaith Dialogue 
Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27701

Invited speakers represent diverse expressions of many religious and spiritual traditions. We hope to see how our liberation is bound up with one another’s liberation, and explore issues such as oppression that bring us together across difference.  We intend to explore anti-oppression and activism as a path to freedom, and ask questions such as, “What are the tools or practices that are leading us to be free?”  “What is the goal of our practice?”
Through planning this event, several insights stand out.

  • We hope to develop some shared language, for example in our preliminary discussions we found that “belonging” feels more skillful than “inclusion.”
  • We also found in these planning discussions that any religion or spiritual practice can devolve into a quest for personal salvation and reinforces the individualism of American culture rather than actually leading us toward liberation.  
  • We saw how a religious community can become a silo.  
    This afternoon of dialogue is designed to help all of us deepen our commitment to anti-oppression work.  We also believe that crossing religious and spiritual boundaries can cause us to explore our own practice as well as learn more about each other.

Open to all. There is no registration fee for this event. Donations welcome and will be divided among the panelists as a gesture of gratitude.

Confirmed Speakers

Rev. Jennifer Jackson • view bio
Moderator, Interfaith Minister

Merle Kodo Boyd • view bio
Zen Buddhist

YM Carrington • view bio
Black Jewish Labor Organizer

Sterling E. Freeman • view bio 
Pastor and Racial Equity Educator

Rev. Carl Kenney • view bio
Award-winning columnist and novelist

Lama Rod Owens • view bio
Tibetan Buddhist

Imam Joshua Salaam • view bio
Duke University Muslim Chaplain

Rev. Cara Valentino • view bio
Interfaith Minister

Rev. Edgar Vergara • view bio
New Creation Methodist Church and
Chairperson of the Hispanic/Latino Committee of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church

Yuri Yamamoto • view bio
Unitarian Universalist Seminarian at Shaw University


A note about who is included on the panel:
Originally, Lama Rod’s idea was to have a dialogue between the Buddhist community and the Black church. This was why we chose Saturday instead of Sunday. As the process continued, the dialogue expanded to include other faiths and communities. We apologize to those whose faith is not included among the panelists. We know that the day of the week and timing is not suitable for everyone who cares about our work in communities together. We ran into particular issues with rabbis being unavailable on a Saturday. There will be opportunities for everyone present to ask questions and participate in this and future dialogues. Please be in touch with us about matters important to you including how we may be with each other for future events and expansion of our drawing together– the location, timing, day of the week and format for listening and learning.

Please also feel free to submit questions and concerns for the panel ahead of time to [email protected] even if you can’t be there. There will also be time devoted to audience participation on June 1.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 // 7 PM
Public Talk 
Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27701

Free and open to all.

Sunday, June 2, 2019 // 9:30 AM to 5 PM
POC and LGBTQ Retreat
Duke Integrative Medicine
3475 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705

Conversations and contemplations on the stuff we’re scared to talk about. Race, gender, sexuality, identity rooted in Buddhist Wisdom and human experience.

$100, with scholarships and other fee options available.
Donations accepted for Lama Rod.

Financial Assistance
Reduced fees and scholarship options are being made available  so that one one will be turned away for financial reasons.  To do so we depend upon the generosity of others.  If you would like to make a contribution to support this effort you donate now by clicking on this donation link.  Thanks for your generosity!