In the face of systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence, how can we metabolize our anger into a force for liberation?
White supremacy in the United States has long necessitated that Black rage be suppressed, repressed, or denied, often as a means of survival, a literal matter of life and death. In Love and Rage, Lama Rod Owens, coauthor of Radical Dharma, shows how this unmetabolized anger--and the grief, hurt, and transhistorical trauma beneath it--needs to be explored, respected, and fully embodied to heal from heartbreak and walk the path of liberation. This is not a book about bypassing anger to focus on happiness, or a road map for using spirituality to transform the nature of rage into something else. Instead, it is one that offers a potent vision of anger that acknowledges and honors its power as a vehicle for radical social change and enduring spiritual transformation.
Love and Rage weaves the inimitable wisdom and lived experience of Lama Rod Owens with Buddhist philosophy, practical meditation exercises, mindfulness, tantra, pranayama, ancestor practices, energy work, and classical yoga. The result is a book that serves as both a balm and a blueprint for those seeking justice who can feel overwhelmed with anger--and yet who refuse to relent. It is a necessary text for these times.
About the Author
Lama Rod Owens is an author, activist, and authorized Lama (Buddhist Teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and is considered one of the leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. He holds a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School and is a coauthor of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. Owens is the co-founder of Bhumisparsha, a Buddhist tantric practice and study community; has been published and featured in several publications including Buddhadharma, Lion's Roar, Tricycle, and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin; and has offered talks, retreats, and workshops in more than seven countries.
“Lama Rod Owens’s voice is a distinct coming together of streams of identity that pour forth an ocean of wisdom that is relevant to anyone that has ever experienced anger. He speaks with a rawness and candor that is both disarming and invitational, creating space for the whole of who you are to enter fully into—regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, body type or ability. Drawing equally on the endless suffering of peoples and bodies marginalized and oppressed, and the timeless wisdom that lies beyond identity and circumstance, he asks that we fiercely honor and hold the complexity of it all to heal ourselves to become the ancestors in training we are meant to be. His language draws from Buddhism, experience from Blackness, and he beckons toward a wide path of Love that has room for everyone.”
—Rev. angel Kyodo williams, sensei, founder of Radical Dharma Movement Project, and coauthor of Radical Dharma
“This work is personal, political, and practical. Lama Rod Owens is wildly generous in letting us see him wrestle his way through his own pain, rage, and arousal. He weaves us from his own story to ours, from his Blackness, gayness, his prophetic nature, to our collective need to feel, harness, and express anger. And then every other page offers practices, practical guidance on how to be in right relationship to anger, to understand the power and wholeness of rage. What a gift!”
—adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy
“Love and Rage is a deep dive into how we are shaped by our perceptions of anger in a culture marked by dividedness and contempt. Through the lens of mindfulness and compassion-based practices, Lama Rod Owens shows us how the power of rage can be transformed into a force of healing in our fractured world.”
—Tara Brach, author of Radical Compassion
“As a book, Love and Rage is uniquely situated. Informed by the depth of practice, liberating insight, sincere love, and humor to which Lama Rod Owens is well known as a Buddhist teacher, this work is a true multifaceted gem. Offering practical techniques for working with anger and the profound work of touching the earth, this book helps meet our need for getting free in ways unlike any other. Love and Rage is as old as the human relationship to anger, while also being rooted in the hot fire of the present time in such a way that it is more than a book; it is an Ark that helps the reader journey to the promise land; liberation into authentic embodiment. Lama Rod Owens proves again that he is a vital teacher with a vast impact who is shaping the future and helping us all make the journey ahead of us.”
—Justin von Bujdoss, Buddhist teacher and chaplain
“With a nakedly honest voice, Lama Rod Owens takes us beyond the spiritual harm of unconsciously repressing, exiling, and indulging anger, opening a courageous path to its vigorous transformation. Here anger is not the enemy to be assailed, but an energy that when held with loving attention becomes a powerful and indispensable discerner. In a time and a nation where unconscious trauma continues to threaten the well-being of so many precious lives, we desperately need to be guided past shallow harmonies to the honest conversations that deliver the possibility of authentic love. I am grateful that this is exactly what we have here in Love and Rage.”
—Kosen Gregory Snyder, Dharma Teacher, Brooklyn Zen Center, and Senior Director and Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies, Union Theological Seminary
“Audre Lorde, Black lesbian feminist poet-philosopher, once said: ‘There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.’ In Love and Rage, radical dharma teacher Rod Owens brings fresh texture to another of Lorde’s classic insights: how to mobilize the energy of anger without being poisoned by the toxicity of rage. Relevant, wise, and generous, Love and Rage shines a much-needed queer Black freedom light onto one of the greatest challenges of our time: living honestly with fury, while deepening compassion. With the grace of a good teacher and the warmth of an old friend, keenly attuned to the stark realities of personal and historical trauma, Owens helps readers dig down gently past anger’s sharp brambles to find the loamy soil of heartbreak underneath. A must-read for those of us ready to stop either bypassing or glorifying rage, and start embracing its powerful lessons on the path to liberation.”
—Katie Loncke, Director, Buddhist Peace Fellowship
“Lama Rod stands on the shoulders of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Essex Hemphill and others to continue the important work that still needs to be done. He offers us his alchemy to work with anger that has been epigenetically passed down to us from historical trauma. His Radical Sermons teaches us how to metabolize Love and Rage. A Bible of kindness for anyone who wants to face their rage with dignity and pride. This book is timely, and inspirationally gritty.”
—Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John, author of Detox Your Heart
“Lama Rod Owens is an absolutely essential new voice of leadership and wisdom on so many of the most important issues today: race, politics, religion, sexuality, masculinity, and, of course, love and rage. Reader beware: in this book Owens will probably obliterate your most entrenched assumptions about spirituality, mindfulness, and Buddhism. He will then proceed to offer something so much better, truer, more life-sustaining to take their place.”
—Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT
“Love and Rage gives us a deep dive and courageous view of what it means to be radically alive and present to everything that makes us impossibly human. From staying awake to the rawness of personal experience, to our communal disappointments and fears, and our historical and ancestral traumas, Lama Rod holds nothing back. This timely and relevant book shares brilliant quotes, teaches crucial techniques and meditation practices that allow us to celebrate joy as well as disrupt systems of anger, and helps us see that anger and rage make us human and not spiritual punching bags. This book wakes us up and reminds us what it means to live fully.”
—Joanna Hardy, Dharma teacher and author
"[Owens's] appealing tone and easy-to-follow instructions on meditation, breath work, processing trauma, and visualization make Buddhist principles open to any reader."