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Buddha’s Teachings and Issues of Cultural Spiritual Bypassing

Residential Program
Dates: May 18, 2017 - May 21, 2017
Days: Thursday - Sunday
Number of Nights: 3 nights

Instructor(s): Sebene Selassie and Brian Lesage

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Program Description:

“Premature transcendence” or spiritual bypassing has been described by John Welwood as unskillfully using a spiritual practice to avoid addressing psychological wounds and unresolved personal issues. This is usually discussed only on the personal level, yet a spiritual practice can be used to avoid or “bypass” unresolved cultural issues as well — what we are calling cultural spiritual bypassing. This program will examine and find ways to address this common dynamic of bypassing unresolved cultural issues including racism, social injustice, and "identity politics." We’ll do this through gaining a deeper understanding of what it means to be a cultural being among other cultural beings which will include how cultural spiritual bypassing manifests both collectively and individually; especially within spiritual communities. This exploration will be situated in the context of how the Buddha of early Buddhism addressed cultural forms of oppression and in teachings on view, intention, ethics, and the five aggregates. We will come together in a multicultural community to create some understanding of how to expand our individual and collective compassion, community, and freedom. There will also be time for affinity groups where people of color and white people can explore and investigate their experiences of these issues in safety.

    About the Instructor(s):
  • Sebene Selassie began studying Buddhism over 25 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader (CDL4) program at Spirit Rock and continues her training with her primary teachers, Thanissara and Kittisaro. Sebene serves on the board of Sacred Mountain Sangha. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. Sebene is passionate about making the dharma accessible and relevant for our times.

  • Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide.