So my name is Lennell actually named after my mother, who our first name is Lynell, but I have a middle name, Renee, so I’m called by both names. I grew up in Philadelphia and as a child, my mother changed religions actually a little bit before I was born. She was raised the Christian, but she converted to another Christian faith. So I think it was more like Baptists prior to going to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So by the time I was born, she was already going to the Kingdom Hall. So formally, that is the only tradition I knew as a child. My older siblings, they knew other traditions, and my father was also Baptist. So that was a big change in our household. I understand because I came into it, so I didn’t experience the change. I was just born into it. And I could tell even outside of our immediate family because the doctrines in terms of Christianity, as is practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is quite different from many other Christians in some some ways that are quite significant that impact families. So I kind of grew up in what was nontraditional, if you will. And so I joke because I see that Buddhism as the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Buddhism, OK.

But but yeah, so that made a difference in terms of my very existence and interaction with other kids in school. You know, all of those kinds of things, but kind of fast forward. I always love school, right? And I guess that’s probably why I ended up as a professor on some level. It was also kind of a mix of I went to school forever and I was used to that schedule. And so I just could not work a nine to 55 days a week with a couple of weeks off in the year that just did not suit me. Okay. So it just all came together in that kind of a way. But my chosen discipline was psychology, and I went through a period where I attended a predominantly white university for my graduate studies. And it was a very difficult period because of the degree of mistreatment stemming from racism that I endured. And I was there for a few years, in fact. And so within that time period, I kind of begin searching again for that kind of fellowship that I had experienced within the context of the Kingdom Hall, although I never was baptized and never wanted to be baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness. But I experience the fellowship that comes with being part of an organized religion. And so being away from home, being away from home for basically the entire year because we went to school in the summer as well. And it was like about anywhere from a six hour drive back home. And so I’m living in a predominantly white community and the school is predominantly white and being mistreated even sometimes by my neighbors. So, so it was very difficult time period. So that’s why I sought out then some fellowship and I actually went back to the Kingdom Hall. OK. That’s one of the things I did, but the teachings just did not resonate with me, and I was like, Oh, I can do this. And so I stopped. I left that school. I did earn a master’s degree there, and I studied at Howard University, where I worked on my Ph.D., and I again begin that search. And I went through a lot of religions, OK? I was with the Hebrew Israelites. I went to the mosque and I went, and that was for the nation of Islam. I went there. I was associated with the Harry Kushner’s, which I loved the chanting Harry Harikrishna, Krishna, Harry, Harry. That’s amazing to me how you could just say that name over and over and over and over again. It’s beautiful, OK? It is music, so I associate it with the Harry Christmas. I associate it with one of those traditional African religions, the fastest son. So I attended Temple. And for that, and then I also went to the I saw our city. I saw a set society. I saw said yes, society. And that’s associated with Kimmit. What people currently call Egypt, OK, their Republic of Egypt. So it was very old religion. And so I actually went that was my first time participating in meditation. I had learned about Buddhism as a college student, an intro to religion class. So I knew about Buddhism, but we didn’t practice anything. We just studied it. And so with the Esau Set Society, they actually practice yoga. They practice meditation. And so that was my entree. I left the D.C. area and for my first teaching position in Wisconsin and one of the things and one of the reasons as to why I was able to go all the way to was hold Wisconsin, where I knew no one was because they headed north. I see our set society and know why I’m getting tongue tied, but nonetheless. And so I said, OK, maybe I can be in this little town called Milwaukee, OK? And so I started meditating there with some people and attending various classes. And ultimately, I left that university and I came back to my alma mater to teach at Lincoln University. I started teaching there. And what I’ve been teaching throughout. My life throughout my teaching life is psychology, as I’ve mentioned in, but I taught and studied African psychology as well and study in the philosophy associated because the underpinnings of psychology is philosophy. And really, the division between the two is the research that psychologists do. All right. So we have theories that we test, which are really philosophies, if you will. So I studied African philosophy because philosophy informs psychology, and as I studied African philosophy, it it. I understood it. You know, I understood the philosophy which made me understand the psychology. OK. So when I came across things like interconnectedness, interdependence, balance, harmony, the multi dimensionality of things, you know, just understanding all of those kinds of philosophical or worldview concepts. And one of the things that really resonated with me about it is an article that I’ve read where the author talked about the mistake that many European researchers have made and theories have made. Looking at early Africa is that they would say that there was no religion because they could not find a word for it. And he said that’s because there was no word that religion was life. It was not separate, separated from life. So you didn’t need a separate word.

Dr Dade is a university professor.

If you had life, you had religion. All right. So I understood that and I understood all of that kind of philosophy because I lived it. That was my upbringing. And so that then became my understanding of psychology. So I began teaching this concept routinely called, well, not the concept is really a comedic dictum. It’s man know thyself. Right? And so I taught it, taught it, taught it, taught it for years and years. So I teach some basic African philosophical concepts. And then I would show how that informs psychology. And and then I’d had the students concentrate on know thyself. What does that mean? And we talk about it in class. And this particular article I had was called the comedic origins of Psychology, and in it, the author, Naeem Akhbar. He outlines what the comedian saw as the dimensions of the soul. So one day in class. I say, man know thyself is self-knowledge. That’s what I would normally say, but by accident, I said full knowledge. And I don’t know something, you know, how you hear yourself talk sometime. I hurt myself and all of a sudden that’s saying that I had been using in class for eons took on a different meaning for me, and it took on a meaning that said, I need to explore it more deeply. But as I said, you know, I’ve been teaching, teaching, teaching and my life in general. I don’t feel was the happiest life. You know, and. There was something that. Was it right for me? OK. And I’m going to tie these together as so it’s like one morning I woke up and consciously I was very clear. That I was tired of me. OK. And, you know, one area of psychology I studied is clinical psychology. And, you know, that could sound clinical as in you need therapy. But I knew I did not. OK. I knew that there was nothing insane, nothing crazy about being tired of myself. OK. And in fact, I would say, I need to avoid myself of myself. OK. You know, so that that became like, you know, a thing I had. And so I was kind of like just sick and tired of me, and I wanted to go someplace I had meditated in years. As I feel like meditating, I feel like praying. I feel like fasting, just a whole host of thing. But where can I go? OK. How can I just leave everything, OK? You know, I have a house, I have a mortgage. You know, I teach, I can’t just go and but it stay with me, that wanting and I moved. I was living in Baltimore at that time and I decided to move to Philadelphia and move back home. So I found a house. I moved this house and I moved back to Philadelphia and I was talking with the contractor that I had at that point that was working on my home, and I was telling, you know, I wanted to go meditate. And he said, Hey, if you find someplace, I’ll go with you. And that really helped me because it was I was just saying it to myself, but I wasn’t moving on it. But now, because I had someone who also was kind of dependent on me. OK, that actually made me sit down and, you know, look for some places. But I didn’t really find what I was looking for right away. I just started listing the names of places and the phone numbers, and around that same time, I had a conference I went to in California and I got to the airport that morning , and there’s this man dressed in clothing that I know was representative of a monk. And I’m thinking, Wow, OK, this is interesting. And you know what? I don’t say anything to them. You know, we fly to California and I come back home and I stop at the Home Depot to pick up some items and I see four monks. And it actually kind of frightened me. I’m like, why all of a sudden am I seeing monks? OK, so I scurried away from them. Actually, that’s how much it frightened me because I was like, What’s going on? OK? Who knew that I’m thinking this, OK? And but then I said, OK, why are you scurrying away? Go talk to them. Find out where they worshiped. I didn’t even know what to call the place. So let me find out. So I go up to them and I ask them and they tell me to Google it. Right now, I’m going to tell you that was hilarious to me because here they are dressed in clothing from, I don’t know what century, OK, but they’re telling me to use the computer to Google. Things like this is funny. OK, so so then the last I went back to my list that I had started just before I left and I started calling the numbers, and the only answer that I got was from the Wuhan temple. And I said, OK. And they told me about things, and they said, Hey, come on, you know, Saturday, that was the day of the meeting, and I told my contractor and we actually went together. So I get to the temple. And soon as I walk in, I don’t know. The energy is just wonderful. OK. And so I sit down and we’re meditating, and I feel like this burst in my chest, OK? And I said, OK, either I’m having a heart attack or that with my heart chakra. What are the two? I don’t know which, but I’m soon going to find out, OK? So I just sit there for the rest, and I figure in the end it must have been my heart chakra because I didn’t have a heart attack. But when I’m leaving, I say I’m coming back. And so I started attending the one Temple in Glenside. And as I’m listening to the teachings by the cool morning, so I’m listening to what they’re saying and this is sounding like what I’ve been reading for the last 20 years and teaching in terms of African philosophy, interconnectedness, interdependence , all of those kind of things, right? And in particular, I think one thing that makes one Buddhism very unique is that it concentrates on the Dharma Kiah Buddha, right? And that really speaks to that interconnectedness and everything coming from the same source, which then makes everything interconnected and interdependent. Right?

So I just sit there for the rest, and I figure
in the end it must have been my heart chakra
because I didn’t have a heart attack.
But when I’m leaving, I say I’m coming back.

But it also speaks to the multi dimensionality of things because it’s this on one level, but that one another. So, so very, very interesting. I found all of this and I’m like, This is making sense to me. OK? It’s in different words. Sometimes similar words, sometimes even the same, but a lot of different words. But I’m understanding it. Reincarnation understood that OK didn’t understand karma as much in the karma can still be challenging. OK, but nonetheless, I’m getting this and and it’s truly resonating with me. And once more, and I want to tie it back to what I said about me and know thyself. Self-knowledge is the beginning and ending of all knowledge. Social knowledge. Now. What I had been talking about, theoretically. I now begin to understand on a more practical level and begin to learn, how is it that you come to know thyself? What kind of practices do you need to engage it? So this life that I had been living in this wanting to devoid myself of myself fit right there, and that was part of what I needed. I needed the practices. And that in fact, what I came to understand is even my understanding was limited because I had no practice. And so as I begin the practice and that was a struggle we can talk about. I began to understand some of the concepts more deeply. And so which increased my practice. And so they kind of fit into each other in a beautiful way. And then that also translated into what I would do with my students that now I begin to have a more practical aspect to the class, as opposed to just the philosophical theoretical component where we say, well, what is self-knowledge ? And then as I explored, more men know thyself, and sometimes I would even leave off, man, OK, because I thought it was gender. What I found out is that that’s an old Sanskrit word, and it means mind. So what the comedians were saying is, know your mind. And I’m like, This is absolutely amazing. OK. And so as I’m studying more in terms of why I’m Buddhism coming to understand the practices, but being resistant because I did not want to practice, OK, I just like studying it. OK, if I’m coming to understand that this is saying the same thing. Yeah. So that that’s kind of what I can say in opening. In a nutshell, I was amazing. OK. OK. I really appreciate the rich history that you shared, and I honestly, I think this is a common problem. You know, I came from that.


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