This is the shocking story of a young man and a generation of angry youths rebelling against the boomer spirituality of their parents while blackfacing the features of North American Buddhism. But Dharma Wiggers is not just a book. It’s a way of being and a pointer towards a different, radical path for an alienated generation.
Like all religious visionaries, Jezebel Anderson’s search for meaning began with trauma and suffering. Describing himself as a “bad-ass nigga trapped in a white, upper-middle class body”, he experienced profound alienation during an adolescence spent within the suffocating confines of gated communities and insight meditation retreats.
After leaving his parents (both well-known teachers associated with Mindful Rock and Dumb Village communities), his search for an alternative spirituality and community led Jezebel first to the Church of God in Christ and later to Nation of Islam. After years of searching, on hot summer night in 2007, a sudden epiphany made Jezebel return to the Buddhist market, where he has established himself as one of the most radical, uncompromising reformers since the days of Nichiren.
I was living in Queensbridge, NY at the time. I couldn’t sleep because of these kids battling out on the street, so I picked up this book about Tibetan Buddhism and started reading about formal debates in Gelugpa monasteries. And then, sha-boom, it struck me that hip hop-battling is really a contemporary form of Dharma combat. Shortly afterwards, I started to pay attention to the gang signs in my neighborhood, realizing for the first time what they really were about: advanced mudra practice. Street life in the hoods is really a form of tantric sadhana. At that moment, the Dharma grabbed my the ballz, and I fully embraced the 4 noble trutz and all that sheiyyt.
After this profound and transformative experience reconciling his black identity with the Buddhist spirituality of his parents, Jezebel returned to his native Los Angeles where he was ordained as a Buddhist minister and was acknowledged as a Buddhist teacher. Shortly afterwards, he incorporated the United Council of the Assemblies of the Old School Dharma and the BuddhaDharma Nation.
A tireless entrepreneur, Jezebel is currently teaching classes, workshops and meditation retreats nationally as well as translating Buddhist texts into contemporary ebonics. But, as he says, “This is not only about study and meditation. It’s a new, revolutionary movement for a new generation of wiggas, with a complete line of merchandise, including T-shirt, hoodies, baseball caps, beanies, buttons, stickers, Dharma bling, hip-hop chanting, books, DVDs, and a wide selection of tattoo templates, “