The Role of the Mahasangha
(Co-operation between sanghas and between Buddhist teachers)
Lama Rod Owens, Tova Green, Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, Lama Dawa Tarchin Phillips
Multiple Workshop Sessions
8:50AM – 9:50AM Are We Cultivating the Same Seeds of Stuckness?
Ven. Dr. Pannavati
The Buddha espoused a “middle way” – a way of considering things from both sides, from all sides, to find the highest and best courses of action with intentional non-harming, rational debate, the true desire for mutual understanding and respect. Laws alone cannot do this. In fact, laws are for the lawless and most people feel they are “good people”, that those laws don’t apply to them. So, something else is needed – an inner transformation. He called his path Dharma and described it as “the way leading upward”. Upward towards what? What state of mind was he suggesting could be cultivated that would lift us and shift our vision from selfishness and depravity to the realms of the “gods” (the brahmaviharas) characterized by thoughts and actions of kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity – those qualities that neutralize fear, greed, self-centeredness and hatred? Can we demand justice now and enforce it through violence of our own as a lasting solution? We will discuss faith in the Buddha’s Dharma and Discipline regarding outrage over cultural appropriation, demands for equality and unbridled social incitement; encouraging us to cultivate faith in the triple gem to discover a middle way of resolve that is embedded with an other-worldly wisdom!
8:50AM – 9:50AM Healing from Spiritual Traumas and Rebuilding the Faith in 8 Noble Paths
Dr. Yowon Choi
Sangha, a spiritual community is one of three refuges in Buddhism and very important in one’s meditation practice. We participate in and interact with the community in order to grow. Sangha is a safe and strong shelter where we can find advice and support each other for the path. In the Upaddha sutta, the Buddha proclaims “Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life” a dhamma doorway.
However, in reality it often happens that spiritual communities have their flaws and shadows which lead to painful experiences and become hindrances in our practices. Such as power abuse, sexual or financial scandals, politics, racism, discrimination and so on. Dhamma is pure and beautiful, but often communities are flawed, as we all progress in our spiritual development.These difficult experiences in Sangha could cause tremendous suffering in our heart and result in a spiritual trauma which can then weaken our faith in dhamma practice.
So, my question is how to heal our broken hearts and to recover from the difficult experiences in the spiritual community and how to rebuild one’s faith in Dhamma practice by consolidating our longing for spiritual idealism with the reality of spiritual practice and community. What wisdom can we learn from these experiences as Dhamma practitioners? I am proposing to do it together by creating a safe space to open up and to support each other, where pains and wisdom could meet by focusing on wisdom and growth instead of blaming or criticizing the problems.
During this workshop, we will meditate, contemplate and share our reflection. We will explore the wisdom these challenges taught us, and share with non-hierarchical dhamma dialogue.
8:50AM – 10:20AM The practice of deep listening: An Insight Dialogue Workshop
Bhante Sukhacitto & Janet Surrey
The practice of deep listening supports receptivity and cultivates our capacity for engaging in difficult conversations, especially in dismantling and disrupting unseen and acknowledged power relations that shape conversation across race, class, and gender.
In this interactive, interpersonal workshop we will be introduced to all of the six meditation guidelines of Insight Dialogue practice:
Pause (establishing mindfulness), Relax (calming body and mind), Open (cultivating mindfulness internally and externally), Attune to Emergence (yielding to impermanence), Listen Deeply, and Speak the Truth.
In this workshop we will focus on exploring what it really means to listen deeply. As we engage in dialogue practice, we will explore how to not just listen to the words of the speaker, but to the melody of the voice; how to listen with the whole body, the heart; and how to pay attention to body language and facial expressions. We will also practice listening internally to our own reactivity, our biases, and our conditioning and release whatever is possible, so we can stay closely attentive to the speaker.
When we learn to listen deeply in a wholistic way, we facilitate the ability of our dialogue partner to speak the truth authentically.
With clear guidance, we will practice Insight Dialogue in dyads using Zoom breakout rooms, and offer feedback to each other. This workshop will also include a short talk, guided sitting, and group sharing at the end.
In Insight Dialogue we cultivate meditative qualities, wisdom, and relationality in order to see things as they actually are.
I am a woman of transgender experience. I have been teaching and leading retreats for the past forty years. For the past twenty-five of those years I have represented myself to the world as a woman. In this discussion I would like to open a space to share thoughts, and answer questions together, on difficult transitions, identity, and otherness; and on how to be with people/students who do not relate to the normative status-quo, and who may experience anxiety, mistrust, distance, and shame beyond your immediate recognition of it.
For the morning session and glimpse of the afternoon.
Networking Exchange and Exhibit Hall
(optional but encourged)
END OF MORNING SESSION
Practice: Multi sessions
(meditation, chanting, movement, etc…)
What does it mean to live the Dharma? Rebecca Li
Living the Dharma is to learn from the Buddha’s example in living our lives? How do we go about doing so in the twenty-first century in our globalized and technology-driven world? In this talk, we will explore what it means to live the Dharma as we fulfill our responsibilities to each other in our various roles in the family, the workplace, the Buddhist sangha, and our communities at the local, national and global levels.
Multiple Workshop Sessions
90 minutes Breaking the Spell – the Drama in the Dharma
Mary Grannan & Bilha Birman-Rivlin
The old stories always hold within their fantastic journeys the ordinary inner life of each of us as we journey in life. Their metaphors, archetypes, and their structures are seeded as universal guidance for our own inner journey.
Old belief system, Old thoughts patterns, that often dictate our life, can be looked at as the witch’s spell in the stories from ancient times. Such as the death spell on Snow White, the sleep spell on princess Aurora, or the spell in the crystal that freezes poor Kai’s heart in The Snow Queen.
Many of us, young and old, can see and understand our world, somewhat more clearly, through creative applications such as storytelling along with their images, metaphors and the fantasy language rooted in them.
In this workshop, we offer the possibility to employthe universal wisdom embedded in these old stories, as a powerful tool to enter and understand the lessons of the Dharma.
As we will look into the teachings of the Cycle of Dependent Origination (CODO) and see how our experience can get trapped by our conditions — just as princess Aurora got trapped by the witches’ spell. We will play with identifying the spell within our habitual cycle, its nature, and ways we can release it, “break the spell” as it is being rendering in the ancient tales and the teachings of the Dharma.
The Drama within the Dharma is the body/mind eternal struggle between falling asleep by a spell and/or become aware of the spell and unravel its power, and like the old Heroes, stay fully awake to face life, be free, and livehappily ever after.
When the participants will leave the workshop, they may recognize an old pattern, a memory in their life conditioned by an old perception; recognize a spell that was cast and awaits a pure awakened inner love to break it.
90 minutes Elder Panel: Evolution of the Dharma for Female Teachers
Chozen Bays, Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, Mushim, Jan Willis
90 minutes Antidotes to White Fragility: Cultivating Reslience through Embodied Dharma
Kat Roubos, LCSW
White Fragility is defined by Robin DiAngelo as “A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation (2011).”
From a Dharma perspective, white fragility arises when we (as white people) perceive a racially charged “threat” to our sense of self or belonging; we experience the self as solid and separate, which is a forgetting of the three characteristics. From that state of forgetting, or ignorance, defensiveness manifests in forms of clinging (to being understood or validated or comfortable, etc) or not wanting (to engage, to change, to address harm).
Why does this matter? Because reacting from these states of ignorance serves to reinforce ignorance in the form of a white supremacy status quo, causing deep harm to others and ourselves at relational and structural levels.
How do we harness the skills and insights cultivated in our practice to contribute to less harm and more healing around race in our relationships, sanghas and institutions? As white practitioners of Dharma, what technologies of practice are useful in cultivating our ability to sustain balanced engagement with anti-racism/racial justice efforts within our maha-sangha? How can we cultivate resilience (as opposed to white fragility) in ourselves, our sanghas, and our institutions?
For the purposes of this workshop resilience is, in part, defined as:
Staying with the conversation
Giving and receiving information and feedback from facilitators and peers without becoming highly defensive, reactive, or shut down/dissociated for long period of time
Managing the guilt and shame that can arise in learning about the history and current reality of race and racism in the US.
This workshop draws from research on how the brain and body respond to perceived threats, exploring how to bring these patterns into awareness with compassion and curiosity, and befriend the body to work with these patterns toward greater resilience and skillfulness in moments of challenge.
After a brief context-setting didactic, participants will build connection with each other by engaging in embodied, simple movement explorations of white fragility reactions. The group will then explore options to get ‘unstuck’ from a reactive, ignorant state, to “wake back up” to a space of grounded, open, accountability. These explorations are informed by principles of dharma practice and study, Theater of the Oppressed practices, and somatic approaches to emotion regulation.