October 18, 2014, The Burmese and Thai Roots of Western Insight Meditation taught by Donald Rothberg

Saturday, October 18, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

What are the roots of our Western practice of insight meditation? Why do we practice in the ways that we practice? In this daylong, we’ll explore the fascinating and sometimes surprising evolution of Insight Meditation—from the Buddha to 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand—and then to its widespread practice in the West. Western Insight Meditation along with “secular” applications of mindfulness and lovingkindness, is now proliferating in many settings. We’ll look at the influence of these different lineages and roots to gain a clearer perspective about key decision points and issues related to how we practice Insight Meditation today.

We’ll examine the influences of the lives, social contexts, teachings, and practices of key Burmese teachers, such as Ledi Sayadaw and Mahasi Sayadaw, and Thai teachers, particularly teachers in the Forest Tradition such as Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Maha Boowa, Ajahn Chah (especially), and Ajahn Buddhadasa. In particular, we will look at how our core practice of mindfulness is based on Burmese teacher Mahasi Sayadaw’s technique of noting, and at the rather different understanding of practice that we receive from the Thai Forest Tradition.

The day will include talks (with images from 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand, including practice places and teachers, and from Donald’s time in Thailand); periods of sitting and walking meditation; and discussion.

Please bring a bag lunch. This class is offered on a donation basis.

Donald Rothberg, Ph.D., a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock, has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976, and has also received training in Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice. He writes on and teaches mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation, and the application of these practices to transforming the judgmental mind, speech and communication, working with conflict, social service, and social action. He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life. See Donald’s webpage at: donaldrothberg.com/

August 16, 2014, Love in the Suttas with Diana Clark

Saturday, August 16, 2014
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

How is the metta sutta, which we often chant while on a meditation retreat, related to metta meditation?  And how is metta meditation related to insight and concentration meditation?  Please join us as we explore the answers to these questions and more during this day of lecture, practice and discussion. Together, we will examine and practice with the teachings on lovingkindness in the early Buddhist texts and later commentarial works.  We will explore how these inspirational teachings have evolved over time and how we can apply this understanding to our current practice.

Please bring a bag lunch. This class is offered on a donation basis.

Diana Clark has been practicing since 2005. Her practice includes long meditation retreats, the scholarly study of Buddhism and Buddhist texts and exploring the science of mindfulness and compassion. She is trained as a scientist and serves the dharma community by being the former treasurer of IMC and the current treasurer of IRC. She is also on the board of the Buddhist Insight Network. She is a graduate of the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy program and has an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

July 26, 2014, Faith in the Suttas with Diana Clark

Saturday, July 26, 2014
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

Is faith used in the Buddhist tradition the same as in other religious traditions?  Is there a specific place for faith in a Buddhist path of practice?  When Buddhists say they have faith, what do they have faith “in”?  Please join us as we explore the answers to these questions and more during this day of lecture and discussion.  We will examine how faith and it’s role in Buddhist practice is portrayed in the early Buddhist texts and discuss how we can interpret this with our own practice.  Also, we will look at the relationship between faith, knowledge and wisdom as well as the relationship between faith, love and devotion.  Everyone, with or without faith, is welcome.

Please bring a bag lunch. This class is offered on a donation basis.

Diana Clark has been practicing since 2005. Her practice includes long meditation retreats, the scholarly study of Buddhism and Buddhist texts and exploring the science of mindfulness and compassion. She is trained as a scientist and serves the dharma community by being the former treasurer of IMC and the current treasurer of IRC. She is also on the board of the Buddhist Insight Network. She is a graduate of the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy program and has an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

March 22, 2014, Paths of Practice in the Buddha’s Teachings with Diana Clark

Saturday, March 22
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

The concept of a path of practice is one of the central features of the Buddha’s teaching.  In addition to the well-known Eightfold Path, the Buddha described a number of other models of the Buddhist path to the end of suffering. These different models are useful descriptions that describe the path of practice through different perspectives.  Join us as we explore and discuss three important paths of practice depicted in three different suttas from the Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikāya, MN).  We will study the “Gradual Training” from the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint (MN 27), the “Discovery of Truth” from the Cankī sutta (MN 95) and the “Practice that Makes One an [Arahant]” from the Greater Discourse at Assapura (MN 39).  In addition to studying the paths themselves, we will explore the context in which the Buddha taught them, and the contexts in which they may be useful for modern practitioners. The day will include lecture and small group discussion.

Please bring a bag lunch. This class is offered on a donation basis.

Diana Clark is finishing up a Master’s Degree in Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley.  She practices and occasionally teaches at IMC.

April 26, 2014: Romancing the Buddha with Ajahn Thanissaro

Saturday, April 26, 2014
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
at the
 Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

An important part of understanding Dharma is understanding what is not Dharma. A great deal of American not-Dharma—what passes for Dharma but actually isn’t—comes from the thought of the early German Romantics.

Even though their names are little-known in America, their ideas have had an enormous influence on Americans attitudes about spiritual life. When approaching the Dharma, we tend to view it in light of these attitudes, which in some ways are congruent with what the Buddha taught, and in many ways run directly counter to it. This daylong course—through talks, readings, and discussions—will focus on understanding Romantic ideas about religious life and inspiration, the transmission of these ideas through American thinkers such as Emerson and James, their influence on modern American Dharma, and the ways in which this influence has seriously distorted our idea of what counts as Dharma and where Dharma practice leads.

Please see the attached Readings for the daylong.

Ajahn Thanissaro (Geoffrey DeGraff) is an American monk of the Thai forest tradition. In 1991 he traveled to the hills of San Diego County, CA,where he helped establish Metta Forest Monastery, where he is the abbot. He is a prolific writer and translator. Many of his works can be found online at www.accesstoinsight.org.

There will be a meal offering for Ajahn Thanissaro and other monastics in attendance.  If you would like, please bring food to offer at that time, otherwise, please bring your own lunch.

This Class Is Offered On A Donation Basis ~ Pre-Registration Not Required.

March 15, 2014: How Empty is Emptiness? with Gay Watson

Saturday, March 15, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

This workshop will explore ideas and experiences of emptiness. We’ll begin by considering Buddhist concepts of emptiness from early Buddhism through the later Mahayana and beyond.  Then we’ll take a brief look at echoes of emptiness in later eastern and western philosophies and religions before examining emptiness in the work of contemporary artists and practitioners.

Central to the day will be investigation of our own experience and ideas of emptiness.  Hopefully we’ll discover how emptiness is far from the quality of lack often ascribed to it, and how a such a transformed understanding may enrich our daily lives and well-being. The day will include teaching, discussion and sitting.

Please bring a bag lunch. This workshop is offered on a donation basis. Pre-registration is not required.

Gay Watson has a PhD in Religious Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She trained as a psychotherapist with the Karuna Institute in Core Process, a Buddhist inspired psychotherapy.  She is the author of Beyond Happiness, Deepening the Dialogue Between Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences (2008) and A Philosophy of Emptiness (2014).

January 18, 2014, The Women Around the Buddha: New Perspectives on Early Buddhist History and Modern Practice with Rita M. Gross

Saturday, January 18, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

Early Buddhist history and the legendary lives of Siddartha Gautama are important for and fascinating to Buddhists of all orientations. However, in many accounts, the stories of the women central to the Buddha, especially his foster-mother and his wife, are obscured or forgotten.  A great deal of Buddhist story-telling has grown to fill out our impressions about the lives of these women.  We will focus especially on these stories in this daylong workshop.

This focus will also allow us to explore how historical memories are created, the importance of creative story-telling to a living religious tradition, and changing ideas about gender in early Buddhism. The day will end with an exploration of how the implicit and explicit views of men and women appear in the stories and the practice of people practicing Buddhism in our modern world.

Known as a warm, humorous and very clear teacher, Rita M. Gross teaches with a rare combination of academic and dharmic perspectives.  She is internationally known for her innovative work on gender and religion.  She alsohas extensive training and experience as a professor of comparative studies in religion and is a Buddhist dharma teacher, appointed to that position by Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche.

October 12, 2013, 9:30am – 5:00pm, The Brahmaviharas with Ajahn Thanissaro

Brahmaviharas Flyer

Please read the attached material before attending the daylong and bring with you (offered in PDF or Word format): [Brahmavihara Word Document] [Brahamavihara PDF]

The Brahmaviharas—attitudes of unlimited good will, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity—are useful tools for counteracting unskillful mind states, such as ill will and resentment, and for developing all three parts of the path to the end of suffering: virtue, concentration, and discernment. This day-long course will use readings, talks, discussions, and periods of meditation to explore the uses and limitations of these attitudes in the context of the total path.

Ajahn Thanissaro (Geoffrey DeGraff) is an American monk of the Thai forest tradition. In 1991 he traveled to the hills of San Diego County, CA,where he helped establish Metta Forest Monastery, where he is the abbot. He is a prolific writer and translator. Many of his works can be found online at www.accesstoinsight.org.

There will be a meal offering for Ajahn Thanissaro and other monastics in attendance. If you would like, please bring food to offer at that time, otherwise, please bring your own lunch.