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Entering the World of the Pali Canon

Online Program
Dates: Aug 03, 2023 - Aug 24, 2023

Instructor(s): Diana Clark, Kim Allen, Ying Chen, David Lorey

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Program Description:

Sometimes in Dharma talks we hear teachers refer to a sutta passage, or to “what the Buddha said,” or to “the Pali Canon.” What are they referring to? How can we find these passages ourselves and how do we know the Buddha even said these things? In this program, we’ll explore the three “baskets" of the Pali Canon with particular attention to the books containing the suttas. We’ll spend some time reviewing how to navigate the suttas themselves as well as placing the Pali Canon into a broad timeline of social and textual history that includes the later commentaries and other Buddhist schools. 

This program includes reading and discussing several texts, along with suggestions for ways to practice with texts as part of one’s spiritual path. Each session also includes meditation and small-group interactions. This program is suitable for people new to the Pali Canon as well as those more familiar with it.

The program is taught by four good friends and teachers who wish to share with others their love of studying the suttas and practicing together. They regularly teach study-and-practice programs together at the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies as well as teaching individually at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center in California.

Watch an invitation by Diana Clark on YouTube.

    About the Instructor(s):
  • Being inspired by the Buddha’s teachings on peace and freedom and supported by her own discoveries along the path of practice, Diana Clark teaches with an emphasis on both the beautiful and the practical. She has trained in the Theravada tradition, including cumulatively many years of silent meditation retreats. In addition, she studies and teaches about the early Buddhist teachings found in the Pali Canon and is the president of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and on the Executive Committee of the Insight Retreat Center in California. Diana’s education includes a Ph.D. in biochemistry and a MA in Buddhist Studies. Just as studying biochemistry helped her understand the workings of the human body, practicing Buddhism has helped her understand the workings of the human mind.

  • Kim Allen began meditating in 2003, seeking both a path out of suffering and the deeper truths of life. She trains mainly under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal at the Insight Meditation Center and has also practiced in Sri Lanka and, more recently, with a few Mahāyāna teachers. Kim was drawn early on to long retreat practice and has sat cumulative three years of retreat. Engagement with the Pāli Canon and texts from other Buddhist traditions inform her practice and life. A teacher and author, Kim aims to bring classical Dharma to a modern context and to encourage lay practitioners in discovering a life of Dharma. Kim also serves on the board of the Sati Center. Her education includes a Ph.D. in physics and a master’s degree in environmental sustainability, and her website is http://www.uncontrived.org.

  • A brief encounter with Chinese Mahayana Buddhism in college ignited Ying’s interest in Buddhism. In graduate school, Ying took refuge to become a Buddhist with Venerable Ji Ru. After graduating and moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Ying began her exploration of the Chinese Agamas and suttas in a Chinese Buddhist sangha. Since 2005 she has been practicing primarily at the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal. The Pali Canon has been a source of inspiration for Ying’s practice and teachings. She currently facilitates a support group for people living with health challenges and co-leads Asian Dharma Circle with Lilu Chen at IMC. She also volunteers at the Insight Retreat Center and serves on the board of Sati Center. In recent years, Ying also practices and teaches at Dharma Ground under the guidance of Phillip Moffitt and Dana DePalma. Ying has a Ph.D. in computer science.

  • David Lorey began meditating as a teenager in the 1970s, in college began intensive training in transcendental meditation and then came to practice in the container of the Buddhadharma in the early 2000s. Integrating tranquility and insight practices forms the core of his current path; in addition, he explores the early teachings embedded in the textual tradition of the Pali canon for insights into practicing and living in accord with the Dharma.  He occasionally co-teaches retreats in Spanish at the Insight Retreat Center in California.  A student of Gil Fronsdal’s, David currently serves as president of the board of IMC.  He holds a Ph.D. in history.