EBMC is one of the most diverse meditation centers in the world, with people from all walks of life, including those with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
A leader in developing dharma for people who don't feel welcome elsewhere, East Bay Meditation Center is a place of deep respect and safety.
Located in Oakland, California, the East Bay Meditation Center is one of the most diverse meditation centers in world. Founded in 2007, it is a non-profit Buddhist meditation community that offers meditation and dharma classes, workshops, daylong retreats, and practice groups to diverse practitioners.
The center is rooted in a "gift economy" and is dedicated to social justice, multiculturalism, and diversity. Its programs are based on the idea of "radical inclusivity," which is to create a space in which everyone can practice and enjoy community (Gleig 2014).
In addition to weekly drop-in meditation groups, the center also offers several long-term one-year programs that include training in Buddhist studies or secular mindfulness for social justice activists and change agents. Among these are the "Commit2Dharma" and Practice in Transformative Action programs.
A diverse community is essential for spiritual growth and transformation, says Mushim Ikeda, a Zen-trained teacher and diversity facilitator who helped start EBMC. Ikeda believes that "the dharma can transform our society," and she sees a need to create a beloved sangha where everyone feels safe and seen for who they are.
EBMC has been successful in overcoming the challenge of creating a dharma for diverse populations, but it will continue to evolve in order to face challenges and strengthen what works. Its future goals include offering more programs that serve different kinds of needs, practicing a culture of humility, and examining its decision-making processes.