Jan. 31, 2015 – Renunciation in Lay Life: What, Why, and How with Kim Allen and others

Saturday, Jan 31st, 2015
9:30am – 4:30pm
at the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch St.
Redwood City, CA

In the Buddhist teachings, renunciation, or letting go, is associated with contentment, ease, simplicity, and relational harmony. It supports the development of the Eightfold Path and is considered an expression of the Middle Way.

While renunciation is commonly associated with Buddhist monastics, a growing number of Western lay practitioners are interested in how to live a nourishing life of lay renunciation. This daylong will explore the possibilities, benefits, and challenges of renunciation in lay life.

The idea of lay renunciation raises such questions as:

  • What kinds of renunciation are most conducive to Dhamma practice as lay people?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of a lay life that honors the intention to let go?
  • How have dedicated lay practitioners lived in Asian cultures? What is most relevant for Western culture?
  • What teachings and practices can guide a layperson seeking to live from a simpler, non-grasping frame of mind?

The day will include a number of guest speakers, group discussion, and sitting practice.

It is an opportunity to learn and share ideas about the topic, and is appropriate for all interested or curious practitioners.

Confirmed guests include:

  • Mirka Knaster, author of Living This Life Fully, about the life and teachings of Anagarika Munindra. Mirka has been practicing in the Theravada tradition since her first retreat in India in 1981. She has a Ph.D. in Asian and Comparative Studies and is the author of “Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra” (Shambhala). At IMC, she organized and facilitated an interfaith symposium on ethical speech, conducted a series on wise speech, and has given talks on other topics.
  • Oren J. Sofer, a teacher who lived as an Anagarika in the Thai Forest tradition and was a student of Munindra-ji. Oren has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1997, and is a long-time student of both Joseph Goldstein and Ven. Ajahn Sucitto. He is a current participant in the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training, and also a Somatic Experiencing practitioner for healing trauma.
  • Ruby Grad, whose sangha, Portland Friends of the Dhamma, offers practice as upāsika/upāsaka in the Thai Forest tradition of the Ajahn Chah lineage, guided by Abhayagiri Forest Monastery. Ruby has practiced Insight meditation since 1988 with monastic and lay teachers and is currently a student of Ajahn Pasanno, abbot of Abhayagiri Forest Monastery. She practices with Portland Friends of the Dhamma and for several years has observed the Uposatha (lunar phase) days each week by keeping the Eight Precepts. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner and Community Dharma Leader programs and the Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy training program, and was recently ordained as a Theravada lay minister by Gil Fronsdal. 

Kim Allen has practiced Insight meditation since 2003, with Gil Fronsdal as her primary teacher. She is interested in how laypeople practice and express renunciation. She leads the Los Gatos Insight sangha and teaches at other local sanghas. Her practice also includes intensive retreat, sutta study, and managing retreats at the Insight Retreat Center. She has completed the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy training program and volunteers as a hospital chaplain.

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