The teachings from the Buddhist tradition have transformed my life over the past 30 years. For almost 20 years I have been trying to contribute back to the Dharma, with many of my efforts focused on making the Dharma accessible to diverse folks from different backgrounds, and a special emphasis on multicultural communities. While I believe that the Teachings are absolutely meant for everyone, I don’t experience that everyone has equal access to the transformative offerings of the Buddhist faith tradition in our current Western cultures. It feels that the aspirations of our human evolution (both ecumenical and secular) ask us to be more and more inclusive about our experience and of our fellow human beings. And it also feels that the First Noble Truth of the suffering and pain of separation, aversion, and hatred is more prominent than ever in the current cultural climate of unconsciousness. Indeed, the energy of the Collective Unconscious seems to be growing, not diminishing. Our awareness, discernment, and compassionate actions leading to collective freedom and transformation are needed now, more than ever.




My initial motivation for offering dharma teachings began as a personal inquiry into what it would take to allow the Dharma to be of positive and meaningful benefit to diverse communities who do not have the access that mainstream cultures have. My path towards teaching was more an inquisitive exploration of what conditions were needed to create more diverse teachers and spiritual leaders. My motivation was to find incontrovertible answers to the questions that were asked of me personally, including “Why do we need retreats for People of Color or Queer communities? Doesn’t the focus on identity foster separation, which is NOT the Dharma?” “Isn’t the Dharma, just the Dharma to everyone?” “What does culture have to do with the Dharma?”

Now, it is clear that my intentions are not solely about these personal inquiries or aspirations. Now, more than ever—this expansion of the Dharma into the direct experience of being in community and in multiple communities is so urgently needed by all of us. The movement of forces toward keeping us separate from each other, towards self-centered actions for solely our personal welfare and well-being, towards even encouraging us to compete and even hate each other, are explicit in our social, political, economic, and cultural realities. Part of the oppression of the Collective Unconscious, whether it is about racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, or any other form of social suffering, is the inability to be with the difficulty and the pain of the First Noble Truth. When differences come into the room, the reactive and delusional pattern is to break apart—to scatter and fragment. What we actually need in a global world, that is more and more connected through every kind of technological, social, and economic network, is the ability to stay with the difficulties—to break together—instead of breaking apart. Holding that tension, in and of itself, is a highly advanced skill and practice that we are hardly ever taught in any forum of our lives. This is the potential contribution of the Dharma to raising our Collective Consciousness.

In one of the recent sessions of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leadership training program, our guest teacher was Professor Charles Johnson, professor emeritus at the University of Washington who is not only one of our culture’s preeminent writers but also one of our elder dharma scholars. He electrified our diverse audience of future dharma leaders and teachers by stating that he felt that the next wave of the civil rights movement would be heavily influenced by the Dharma. Now, that is an truly meaningful incentive to practice!

Creating the broadest access to the Dharma for all populations can only further enrich the expression of the Teachings in our times, in our multiple identities, and in our many cultures. The benefits of this cannot be overstated. Culturally-specific retreats provide a safe container where people can have the trust in their environment and surroundings to delve deeply into their own experience and their true nature. This true nature leads to the universal connection to all beings. However, this trust in the process is a luxury that may not occur in our day-to-day lives, where our conditioning is to have some level of defensiveness as a constant companion to protect against very real experiences of harm or oppression in the external world. In addition, it is very clear that our current social and political dialogue in our lives is filled with the issues of Race, Culture, Orientation, Gender Identity, and Difference. You just have to open the daily newsfeed, much less our online social networks. Our ability to bring our spiritual practice to these very real issues that face us as individuals and as communities, is where the rubber meets the road of our collective spiritual practice.

Anumodana (“sharing in the goodness and merit of your actions”) to all those who have supported and continue to support the efforts towards offering the Dharma to as many multicultural communities as possible. It creates the possibility of freedom for greater and greater numbers of people—in ever widening circles of practicing and awakening together.

If you would like to offer Dana or the practice of Generosity in support of my work, please click here

Awakening Together

front cover
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Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of  Inclusivity and Community is about processes of building, developing, nurturing and sustaining inclusive and diverse communities. The book explores and develops skills that are so needed in a world that can feel fragmented and separate. The practice of community always takes more time than we think, more efforts than we can imagine, more issues than we are aware of, and more contributions than we think we need. However, the outcomes also produce joys and achievements greater than can be wished for, expected, planned, or predicted. Awakening Together is a personal narrative and a historical record of applied learnings concerning how individuals and multiple communities both aspire to collective freedom, and create the actual path towards that awakening together.

As with all of our Dharma journeys, our practice is not simply about the idealized outcomes of liberation or enlightenment. It is the path we take to get there that is equally indispensable to the experience of freedom. The path and the fruit, the ends and the means, are dependent upon each other and are one and the same. Likewise, the personal and the collective are one and the same awakening. Practice is all about freedom, as is this book.

Listen to an interview on KPFA public radio on Awakening Together at: https://archives.kpfa.org/data/20171019-Thu1100.mp3

To order Awakening Together now, click here.

Comments about Awakening Together:

“I don’t see how Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community, could be better. It is so wise, thoughtful, dedicated to our healthful growth, ease and enlightenment through the Dharma, that I know I will be reading it for years to come. Larry Yang seems to have thought of everything we will need as we venture bravely forward – through racism, prejudice, ignorance, and poor home training – into the free spiritual beings we were meant to be. Together.”
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

Awakening Together combines the intimately personal, the Buddhist and universal into a loving, courageous, important work that will benefit all who read it. For anyone who longs to collaborate and create a just and inclusive community, Larry provides a brilliant guidebook.”
Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

“How do we embrace our different identities and discover our innate and shared belonging?  In Awakening Together, Buddhist teacher and diversity/inclusivity activist Larry Yang invites us to extend our practice on the cushion into a collective practice of understanding and compassion. Inspiring, compelling and deeply wise, Awakening Together is essential reading as we seek to heal our own hearts, our communities and our world.”
Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

“Larry Yang, acknowledged as a pioneer in consistently insisting on the essential diversity and anti-racism work needed in many contemporary spiritual communities, generously and brilliantly leads us through his manifold experiences of belonging and exclusion to his hard-earned lessons in bringing heartfulness and rigorous learning to such work. What a gift Awakening Together (a timely and essential offering) gives, to learn how, through the lessons of past experience and the lens of future needs, we can build sanghas that represent the illuminating and joyous presence that true diversity brings. Thank you, Larry.”
Gina Sharpe, co-founder, New York Insight Meditation Center

“Larry Yang’s voice, heart, and insight in Awakening Together can be both trusted and radically illuminating. We do indeed need each other for any of us to awaken to our true nature as human beings. Mindfulness practice has to be about inclusivity and diversity and justice if it is to be kind and compassionate and wise. If we truly “inter-are” as Thich Nhat Hanh asserts, then, as this book shows, we have to widen our scope of what is worthy of our attention. Parts of this book may make some people in the greater mindfulness community uncomfortable. It certainly was true in my case. That is precisely why it is particularly valuable to read and reflect upon and learn from. We need trusted others to show us our blind spots, our tacit assumptions, and our ignorance. I highly recommend this elegant, highly personal, and hopefully profoundly influential book.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses

“A marvelous book, unstoppable in its promise. The integrity and timeliness of Larry Yang’s teaching has the power of an incoming tide.”
Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life

“In Awakening Together, Larry Yang shares an in-depth personal journey and his professional experience of wise and actionable guidance for building inclusive Buddhist communities. A must read for anyone interested in understanding the integrities of belonging.”
Ruth King, dharma teacher, life coach, and author of Healing Rage and Mindful of Race 

“Awakening Together is filled with love. Larry Yang, plants your feet, offers his hand, and without hesitation opens our eyes. His teachings on creating and sustaining communities that welcome the full range of our life experiences, are clear and poignant. He skillfully walks us into a vision of an inclusive spiritual home in which we can unfold and reveal our true selves. As a seasoned, and well-loved dharma teacher, his long-awaited gift satisfies the soul that yearns to be seen. Deep bows, beloved friend, for this offering.”
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, ordained Zen Buddhist priest and author of The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender

“For the first time — a Dharma book that is a roadmap showing collective pathways out of social suffering. In a voice both passionate and wise, Larry Yang guides us to co-create spiritual communities that embrace the pain of oppression and inequity as integral to the ground of compassion and liberatory spiritual practice.”
Mushim Ikeda, core teacher, EBMC

“Larry Yang insightfully shares his immense journey through the painful territory of marginalization within a dominant culture. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in building and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, empowered, wise and compassionate community.”
Kittisaro and Thanissara, authors of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism

Larry Yang’s Awakening Together seamlessly blends the personal with the political. He helps us to see that waking up in all forms is an essential spiritual practice– and that nothing is excluded, including the thorny areas of race, culture, and identity. Larry is a thought leader in this work and his compassionate insight shines through as a guide to us all. This book is a game-changer.
Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and co-author of Fully Present: The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness

Larry Yang’s book Awakening Together captures the real heart of a Buddhist practitioner who fully honors the Three Treasures and understands their importance to faith and practice. These pages exude his deep love of the Dharma and the ways in which it is important to not only embody the spirit of the Buddha, but also to follow his teachings. Above all, what stands out is the absolute respect for the value of Sangha. Like no other that I have encountered, Larry conveys the deep importance of ‘inclusion’ that responds to the Buddha’s words “I see all beings equally. I have no partiality for them.” In so doing, he provides a profound teaching of how to be inclusive and how to practice faith in community. This book is a real treasure, and a map to great awakenings in our worldwide sangha.
Myokei Caine Barrett, Shonin

To pre-order Awakening Together now, click here

About Larry

photo credit: Two Irises

Larry Yang teaches mindfulness and loving kindness retreats nationally and has a special interest in creating access to the Dharma for diverse, multicultural communities. Larry has practiced meditation for almost 30 years, with extensive time in southeast Asia, and a 6 month period of ordination as a monastic under the guidance of Ajahn Tong. Larry is on the Teachers Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is one of the core teachers of both East Bay Meditation Center (Oakland) and Insight Community of the Desert (Palm Springs). His current focus is training spiritual leadership within Communities of Color and LGBTQI communities. Larry was honored for his work in equity  and inclusion by being selected as the community’s choice for Grand Marshal in the 2016 San Francisco LGBTIQ Pride Parade, whose theme was “For Racial and Economic Justice.” He has been developing community meditation teachers in Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leadership Program for 10 years, and is one of the core trainers for the current Spirit Rock Dharma Teacher Training Program to develop fully empowered Dharma teachers in multicultural communities.

His article, “Directing the Mind Towards Practices in Diversity” was included in Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities, by Thich Nhat Hanh. His essay “Family Tree Practice” addresses how meditation and contemplative practice has directly influenced his experiences with racism, heterosexism, and oppression; it is part of Will Yoga and Meditation Really Change My Life, edited by Stephen Cope. Larry is a co-editor of Making the Invisible Visible: Healing Racism in Our Buddhist Communities, a booklet developed for building inclusive communities within spiritual practice. He contributed to the groundbreaking anthology, Dharma, Color, and Culture, by Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín—a volume that provides a unique perspective from practitioners of color across the spectrum of Buddhist traditions.

His new book, Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community, is published by Wisdom Publications.

In addition, Larry is trained as a psychotherapist and a consultant in cultural competency and organizational awareness—giving workshops and presentations on mindfulness and diversity issues. Organizations for which he has provided training and consultation include: Spirit Rock Meditation Center; Insight Meditation Society; Insight Community of the Desert; Insight LA; Insight Community of Washington DC; UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center—Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation Program; Insight San Diego; Common Ground Meditation Center, Minneapolis MN; Naropa University; Mindfulness Institute Professional Teacher Training; San Francisco Zen Center; CompassPoint Nonprofit Services; Sutter County Department of Health Services; Yuba County Department of Health Services; SF HIV CARE Planning Council; San Francisco State University; California Pacific Medical Center; Youth and Family Services—Solano County, CA; University of California Davis; California Adult Protective Services; Chinatown Child Development Center; CIIS Center for Somatic Psychotherapy; Maitri Compassionate Care; Public School District 622 of St. Paul, MN; Loyola Marymount University; and San Francisco General Hospital.


First 10-day residential Vipassana retreat for communities of color, Aug 2015, Mountain Hermitage, Taos, NM

Larry’s 2018 events

Thur   Jan 4-11
Spirit Rock Metta-LovingKindness retreat, https://spiritrock.org/calendarDetails?EventID=4765
Sat      Jan 13
San Francisco Zen Center talk and half daylong on Awakening Together
Thu     Jan 18-25
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program
Sun     Jan 28
San Francisco Insight Sunday sitting group, 7pm
Sat      Feb 17
Against the Stream San Francisco—Queer dharma celebration and gathering
Sun      Apr 8
Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org
Sat      May 5-12
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program
Thurs      Jun 28-Jul 4
Spirit Rock Teacher POC residential retreat
Our History, Our Present, Our Future—the 20th anniversary of this retreat!
Sun      Jul 15
Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org
Fri      Aug 3-5
Boundless Way Zen community, Boston MA
Sun      Aug 19
Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org
Sun      Aug 26
Thrive East Bay, http://www.thriveeastbay.org/events/
Tues      Sept 4-14
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program
Sun      Sept 23
Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org
beginning Mon, Sept 24
Waking Up In the World, a free 10-day online course by Sounds True with Larry Yang, and Van Jones, Eckhart Tolle, Prince Ea, Marianne Williamson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Parker Palmer, Valarie Kaur, Joanna Macy among others. Register at http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/SH1B8
November, all month
The Practice of Integrity (a month-long of teachings) on Mindfulness Monthly: A Global Online Meditation Training by Sounds True. Register at: http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/SH17w
Sat      Nov 10
Daylong meditation retreat at Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org
Sun      Nov 11
Insight Community of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA, www.desertinsight.org

Larry’s 2019 events

Sun      Feb 3-10, 2019
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program, Washington DC
Sat      May 3-10, 2019
Residential retreat with Tara Brach at Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC
Sun      May 26-Jun 2, 2019
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program
Mon      Sept 2-9, 2019
Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program

If you would like to offer Dana or the practice of Generosity in support of my work, please click here

Fifth iteration of Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leadership training program


Larry can be reached through

Spirit Rock MLK weekend retreat, 2010


Spirit Rock Meditation Center




EBMC’s Commit2Dharma program, 2014


East Bay Meditation Center





ICD, 2016 (left to right): Beth Mulligan,  Larry Yang, and Sylvia Boorstein


Insight Community of the Desert






or directly at larry(at)larryyang.org


If you would like to offer Dana or the practice of Generosity in support of Larry’s work,
please click here