Professor William Green on African American Buddhism

Dr William Green is a fascinating, and I think significant figure. Currently he serves as a professor at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.

He is also a bishop within the African Orthodox Church, a small but vital African American denomination with roots in the Episcopal Church and the episcopi vagans movement.

These facts alone make Professor Green interesting.

But, there’s more…

He also spent his formative spiritual years under the guidance of the shadowy but fascinating Dr Neville Pemchekov Warwick. (There’s a Wikipedia article on Ajari Warwick, and somewhat less flattering comments on him at the Shunryu Suzuki study site,, here and here.) While Ajari Warwick may not have been as close to Suzuki Roshi as the Wikipedia article claims, he certainly was at least for a time an associate of my Zen ordination master, Houn Jiyu Kennett, and through her I met him on a couple of occasions. I continue to be interested in that loose network of early mid century San Francisco Bay area Buddhists of whom the Ajari was a central figure, and about whom next to nothing has been published.


Professor Green took what Ajari Warwick offered and continued to dig deeper into the matters of heart and mind, and from there to manifest that wisdom in the world.

In 2010, thanks to a Mellon Foundation grant Professor Green visited Brown University and made a presentation at the Contemplative Studies program, the video clip shown below. At Brown University’s Contemplative Studies website, a biographical blurb discussed where his studies have taken him:

“Professor Green came to Tougaloo in August 2007 to help build the new Religious Studies department there, only the second program in the state, and now serves as an associate professor in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Department. Though Green has studied extensively in world religions, most of his work has been in building the capacity of religious groups to provide social services to their communities, especially that of black pastors in the South.”

A really, really interesting man.

And, so, without further ado, here is Professor Green on African American Buddhism, with some interesting asides…

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