Lama Rod Owens Blends Buddhism and Christianity to Guide Others in 2024

Lama Rod Owens, a Black queer Buddhist teacher, blends his Christian upbringing and Buddhist practice to inspire social change, identity, and spiritual wellness through his teachings and new book 'The New Saints.'

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Lama Rod Owens Blends Buddhism and Christianity to Guide Others in 2024

Lama Rod Owens Blends Buddhism and Christianity to Guide Others in 2024

Lama Rod Owens, a Black queer Buddhist teacher, is creating an impact in 2024 by combining his training in Tibetan Buddhism with his Southern Christian upbringing to assist others in social change, identity, and spiritual wellness. Owens, who is recognized for his colorful and non-traditional Buddhist attire, integrates pop culture references into his teachings on the popular mindfulness app Calm and in his latest book, 'The New Saints.'

Raised in a devout Baptist and Methodist family, Owens later distanced himself from organized religion and discovered his spiritual path in Buddhism after college. He trained as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and volunteered for various social causes before studying at Harvard Divinity School, where he was immersed in religious diversity and found his calling as a Buddhist teacher. "At Harvard Divinity School, he encountered diverse religious traditions, which helped him reconcile his Christian upbringing with his Buddhist practice," one summary notes.

Today, Owens is an influential voice in a new generation of black Buddhist teachers, respected for his work centered on social change, identity, and spiritual wellness. He combines personal stories, traditional teachings, and instructions for meditations in his wide-ranging courses on the Calm app and in his book 'The New Saints,' which highlights Christian saints, Buddhist bodhisattvas, and Jewish tzaddikim as spiritual warriors who sought to free people from suffering.

Why this matters: Owens' unique approach to combining Buddhism and Christianity reflects a growing trend of spiritual leaders drawing from diverse traditions to address contemporary issues. His work on social change, identity, and wellness resonates with many seeking guidance in an increasingly complex world.

Owens believes that our era calls for 'New Saints' who can integrate both social and spiritual liberation. "Owens believes that anyone can become a 'New Saint' and work towards social and spiritual liberation," according to one summary. He sees figures like Harriet Tubman as saints who fought for freedom and encourages others to embody the Buddhist concept of a bodhisattva through his teachings.

As a black queer man, Owens brings a fresh perspective to the Buddhist community and aims to make the teachings accessible to a wider audience. His journey has been shaped by his mother, a United Methodist minister, as well as his experiences at Berry College and Harvard Divinity School. Owens' commitment to service, compassion, and helping others reduce suffering shines through in his work as a lama, yoga teacher, and author in 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Lama Rod Owens, a Black queer Buddhist teacher, combines Tibetan Buddhism and Southern Christianity.
  • Owens integrates pop culture and traditional teachings to address social change, identity, and wellness.
  • Owens' work on 'New Saints' highlights spiritual leaders who fought for social and spiritual liberation.
  • Owens aims to make Buddhist teachings accessible to a wider audience as a Black queer man.
  • Owens' commitment to service, compassion, and reducing suffering is reflected in his work as a lama.