Barre Center for Buddhist Studies offers residential and online courses combining study, discussion, and meditation for connecting sangha, supporting curiosity, and expanding and deepening personal practice.
Because the majority of BCBS offerings are held only partly in silence, teachers and students have the opportunity to connect over meals, in small groups, and around the grounds.
All are welcome. No specific study or practice experience is required for the vast majority of our courses.
BCBS was founded in 1991 by Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg and is located just through the woods and down the hill from Insight Meditation Society (IMS).
The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies offers the integration of study and practice in exploring the many streams of teaching and expression that flow from the sources of early Buddhism.
Our onsite and online programs combine contemplative and relational elements supportive of personal transformation. As an inclusive community, we welcome all interested in Buddhist inquiry as a way of developing wisdom and compassion for the benefit of all beings.
OUR GUIDING VALUES
- We seek to cultivate harmony, integrity and wisdom in what we do and how we do it.
- We value inclusion, diversity, and equity.
- We commit to acting and speaking in an ethically responsible manner.
- We are committed to offering opportunities for transformation and liberation which is the promise of the Buddha’s teachings.
- We value scholarship, inquiry, discernment and experiential embodied wisdom.
- We are committed to integrating study and practice, scientific understanding, meditative insight, and individual and relational experiences.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE NIPMUC PEOPLE
The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies respectfully acknowledges the Nipmuc people, who for generations stewarded the land on which BCBS now stands, and who continue to live in this area, which was traditionally known as Nippenet.
The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies acknowledges that many people face barriers to participating in our work due to biases and social structures based on race, class, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion and other factors. Thus, in accord with Buddhist teachings as we understand them, BCBS takes a proactive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and is engaged in ongoing initiatives to promote these three values throughout our work.
As a way to uphold our mission and values around DEI, we are using the following policies with regard to course registration:
- Three spaces (or 10% of available seats) will be held for self-identified BIPOC participants until eight weeks before the course begins. At that time, if the three spaces remain unfilled they will be open to anyone who would like to join the course.
- When a course has a waitlist of participants, spaces will be prioritized for BIPOC participants, and then offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
- We have set aside financial assistance for BIPOC and the optional demographic questions on our registration page help us to distribute that assistance where needed and support equity in retreatant participation.
From the Staff and Board of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
(June 15, 2020)
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Their killings, and the deaths of countless black people killed by the police, confront us all. We recognize this violence as a manifestation of our racialized history and racialized present that conditions so much of contemporary life.
In this moment, we are called to critically reflect, feel the tremble of our collective heart, and affirm our commitment to a just, equitable, and safe society for all. We have seen images of what this might look like in the gatherings of so many people around the world: a beautiful multiplicity of religions, races, classes, ethnicities, genders, abilities, and ages singing, chanting, and marching in solidarity, motivated by a vision of collective liberation. And we are called to act, each in our own way, to contribute to this vision.
At BCBS, we also are called to continue our efforts to critically reflect and reimagine ourselves as an inclusive, equitable, and diverse community. Buddhist traditions suggest that the conditions of our actions of body, speech, and mind are often hidden, even from ourselves. Clearly, meditation alone is not enough to meet and address what is called for in this moment. We believe, however, that Buddhist practices can support us in unflinchingly looking at our own shortcomings, and to bear witness to the wounds of our world. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, “we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering.” And we must do this in community.
Buddhist teachings are grounded in the recognition of suffering, an ethical commitment to non-harming, and an understanding of deep interdependence. We cannot separate our personal healing and transformation from that of our broader society.
Our mission and values are inspired and informed by Buddhist teachings on compassion, ethics, right effort, and right understanding. Guided by these values, we committed ourselves several years ago to ongoing education and training for staff and board on inclusion, diversity, and equity. We are also making significant progress in diversifying our board, teachers, and the range of programs that we offer.
More than ever, with record unemployment, we will continue to expand the amount of financial assistance we offer to increase access to participation in both residential and online programs, including our scholarship funding for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and low-income participants.
BCBS is planning listening circles to be hosted by BCBS teachers and board members, Sebene Selassie and Peace Twesigye (for BIPOC sangha members) and Brian Lesage and Jessica Morey (for white sangha members).
To the black, indigenous, and self-identified people of color in our community, we are poised to listen to you and be accountable, as we are committed to decentering whiteness at BCBS. To the white members of our community, we ask you to participate in ongoing learning about race, bias, and systemic racism that is necessary to end the widespread discrimination against BIPOC communities. We trust in the wisdom and experience of our community members to inform our work and invite you to share your thoughts.
Our liberation is bound together, without exception. May the merits of our practice lead to our collective freedom from hatred, delusion, and greed. Let us stand in solidarity with all who are working towards dismantling racial inequities and other forms of systematic oppression.
Resources for engagement and education:
A Buddhist community by tradition consists of four assemblies, which are male and female, monastic and lay. Yet, among the different lineages of Buddhism present in the modern day, often one of these four assemblies is no longer in existence. The reason is a lack of fully ordained female monastics. These are only found in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya traditions of China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. In the Tibetan tradition, following the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, an order of fully ordained female monastics has never come into existence. In the Theravada tradition, such an order has ceased to exist during a period of political turmoil in the early 11th century in Sri Lanka. At present, in both of these traditions efforts are under way to revive or create new orders of fully ordained female monastics. In Sri Lanka the revival is well under way since ordinations undertaken in 1998, which have also spread to Thailand. In the Tibetan tradition the Karmapa has recently taken significant steps meant to lead to the creation of an order of fully ordained female monastics in Tibetan Buddhism. In America, these different ordination traditions are adapting to new conditions to create possibilities and opportunities for female ordination.
In recognition of the importance of according equal opportunities for women and the need to avoid any type of discrimination, BCBS supports the full ordination of women, their training and education, and their ongoing work as teachers.