A case for friendship as a radical practice of love, courage, and trust, and seven strategies that pave the way for profound social change.
Grounded in the Buddha’s teachings on spiritual friendship, Radical Friendship shares seven strategies to help us embody our deepest values in all of our relationships. Drawing on her experiences as a leading meditation teacher, as well as personal stories of growing up multiracial in a racist world, Kate Johnson brings a fresh take on time-honored wisdom to help us connect more authentically with ourselves, with our friends and family, and within our communities.
The divides we experience within us and between us are not only a threat to our physical and emotional health—they are also the weapons and the outcomes of structural oppression. But through wise relationships, it is possible to transform the barriers created by societal injustice. Johnson leads us on a journey to becoming better friends by offering ways to show up for our own and each other’s liberation at every stage of a relationship. Each chapter ends with a meditation or reflection practice to help readers cultivate vibrant, harmonious, revolutionary friendships. Radical Friendship offers a path of depth and hope and shows us the importance of working toward collective wellbeing, one relationship at a time.
About the Author
KATE JOHNSON teaches classes and retreats integrating Buddhist meditation, somatics, social justice, and creativity at leading meditation centers, universities and cultural institutions around the country. Kate also works as a culture change consultant, partnering with organizations to help them achieve greater diversity and sustainability. She's a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center's four year teacher training, as well an utterly unprofessional dancer and performer who earned a BFA in Dance from The Alvin Ailey School/Fordham University and an MA in Performance Studies from NYU.
“In this fresh, brave, and liberative offering, Kate Johnson explores the strength of diversity and intimacy of community, prioritizing friendship as a healing practice and relationships as a path to collective freedom. Prepare to love yourself more and to appreciate conscious belonging.”—Ruth King, author of Mindful of Race
“With freshness, clarity, and passion, Kate Johnson shows how attending to the quality of our friendships can heal and free our heart. You’ll find Kate to be a wise guide and a trustworthy, caring friend on the path. Please read and share with others: Our world needs a revolution of true friendliness!”—Tara Brach, author of Radical Compassion
“Radical Friendship is a wise, ennobling, sanctuary of a book. It invites our heart to go deep into friendship, justice, love, and conscience. It reminds us of the beauty we can create with one another.”—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“A skilled, natural storyteller and teacher, Kate generously shares her humanity and journey of fears, tears, and awakening as a mixed-race Dharma student, activist, and teacher. This is a rare opportunity to receive the gift of deeper understanding of a multilayered, heartbreaking, and heartwarming journey accompanied by integrated wisdom.”—Gina Sharpe
“Radical Friendship connects the Buddhist teachings to universal human experience by unraveling the narrow bandwidth of white supremacy within Western interpreted and colonized dharma. A radical teacher that lifts veils of privilege, oppression, and fragility (greed, hatred, delusion), this book invites and allows the dharma to permeate into all of our diverse lives that matter.”—Larry Yang, author of Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community
“With love and rigor, Kate Johnson offers a timely roadmap for healing and transformation. Through fierce honesty, compelling storytelling, and trauma-informed practices, she reminds us how to build relationship across difference and find freedom in every moment. I’m so glad she wrote this book.”—David Treleaven, PhD, author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness
“This is a thoughtful and compassionate exploration of the meaning of friendship and its practice in today’s confused and contentious world. Basing her exposition on an ancient Buddhist text, Kate Johnson offers us many precious nuggets of practical wisdom that can enrich our spiritual life, deepen personal relationships, and sustain us in ways that are both profoundly meaningful and fulfilling.”—Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
“Radical Friendship has arrived on time! This book is relevant, on point, and apropos for the world we are living in today. Kate Johnson has provided a thought-provoking synthesis of Buddhist understanding and the politics of social justice, race, class, gender, ableism, and sexual orientation. She points to the many ways we might honor the spaces we occupy through identity without interpreting our differences as further proof that we are separate. She invites us to understand what freedom could be possible by applying this to relationship. Her perfectly chosen words and bigness of heart point us towards clear comprehension of what is possible if only we surrender and let go into the perfection of love—love for ourselves and love for others, buoyed by compassion, equanimity, and courage.”—DaRa Williams
“In Radical Friendship Kate Johnson examines the Buddha's teaching on the seven qualities a true spiritual friend should embody. The book describes her journey as she sets out to become a true friend to herself and others. Johnson offers a fresh and timely interpretation of spiritual friendship informed by her study, her practice, and life experiences.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness
“Radical Friendship is an important offering for many of us wanting to deepen our friendships through contemplative practice. This text is a kind invitation to all of us to not only enter into a transformative friendship with others, but to enter also into a transformative relationship with ourselves.”—Lama Rod Owens, co-author of Radical Dharma
“Meditation instructor Johnson draws on her experiences as a multiracial person living in the Midwest as well as meditations on Buddhist concepts to offer insight into how friendships can help overcome differences. Johnson’s simple principles for forming friendships will aid anyone wishing to disrupt their normal routine.”—Publishers Weekly
“Radical Friendship is based on the seven qualities of spiritual friendship that the Buddha outlined in the Mitta (‘friend’) Sutta. This type of friendship isn’t about simply being kind or being quiet. Instead, Johnson writes, it’s a way to reach beyond our differences and unite against suffering.”—Tricycle: The Buddhist Review