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Caregiving: Buddhist Chaplaincy and the Art of Becoming a Bodhisattva

Residential Program
Dates: Jun 03, 2022 - Jun 08, 2022
Days: Friday - Wednesday
Number of Nights: 5 nights

Instructor(s): Cheryl Giles, Chris Berlin

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Course Description:
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This retreat will explore how Buddhist chaplains and professional caregivers can be more fully supported in their care for self and others from within Buddhist teachings and practices. 

The six paramitas of the Bodhisattva model—generosity, discipline, patience, joyful enthusiasm, wisdom, and meditation—offer chaplains a model of caregiving for ourselves and others. During this retreat we will look closely at how we naturally move towards caring for people and away from them when we feel discomfort. Reflecting together on Śāntideva’s Introduction to the Way of the Bodhisattva, we will explore the wisdom of being present, seeing clearly, and acting wisely to free ourselves from the pain and ignorance of habitual patterns in order to help others do the same. 

In this retreat, we will emphasize three primary areas: (1) exploring Buddhism as a tradition of skillful caregiving; (2) applying dharma principles to diversity, intersecting aspects of the care seeker, and equity in caregiving settings; and (3) deepening mindfulness and contemplative practices to support self-care, resilience, and confidence in the Dharma. 

In the spirit of creativity, we will have small group conversations and music, along with dharma talks. In preparation for our discussion, participants are encouraged to read Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom (ed. by Yetunde and Giles).


Noble Silence:
Noble silence will begin with the opening talk on the first evening and continue through the closing session.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.

Continuing Education:

The program has been designed so that it may be considered by participants for use as continuing education to enhance the professional knowledge and pastoral competency of chaplains certified through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains.

    About the Instructor(s):
  • Cheryl Giles is the Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling and core faculty for the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School. She joined the faculty in 1997 and teaches courses on spiritual care, trauma, and contemplative care of the dying.  Cheryl was co-editor of The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work with Willa Miller. Her most recent book is Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom co-edited with Pamela Ayo Yetunde.

  • Chris Berlin is an instructor in spiritual counseling, chaplaincy, Buddhist ministry, resilience, and contemplative practices at both Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Extension School. He has worked as a full-time clinical chaplain at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he frequently taught mindfulness to both patients and medical clinicians. He is a lay teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and offers regular meditation classes, workshops and retreats in New England.