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Friendship on the Path: Meeting Life’s Challenges Together
Dates: Feb 20, 2020 - Feb 23, 2020
Days: Thu - Sun (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Janet Surrey, Bart Van Melik

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This course will explore the central importance and practice of noble friendship (kalyāṇa-mitta) in engaging the four noble truths of suffering and the end of suffering. We will introduce the guidelines of Insight Dialogue as a formal practice of noble friendship. Walking the path together, we can investigate how to fully receive and be with the challenges of our lives. We will contemplate classical texts on spiritual friendship in relation to the five recollections of illness, aging, death, loss, and separation. In addition, there will be an investigation of the power of relational practice in turning toward the contemporary environmental crisis and an exploration of how this crisis is entwined with the oppressive power structures of patriarchy, colonialism and white supremacy. By tending to our shared aspiration for awakening, we can recognize that which divides and separates us from each other and from our power in relationship.

Learning Intentions:

To learn the meditation guidelines of Insight Dialogue as a foundation for Noble Friendship in our lives; learn the impact and power of engaging each of the Four Noble Truths together; experience and practice facing and holding together the natural challenges of illness, aging, death, and loss; and experience and practice facing and holding together the human-created challenges of climate change.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

This course will be held in noble silence with periods of speaking and listening in sessions of Insight Dialogue and informal guided dharma sharing during some meals.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a longstanding practice group in the Boston area.  Her first meditation  teacher was Vimala Thakar . She has practiced in the Insight tradition  for over 30 years, and trained as a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock. Since 2007, Jan has worked intensively with Gregory Kramer and the Insight Dialogue Community. Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. She is the author of The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together.

  • Bart van Melik has been teaching insight meditation and Insight Dialogue meditation since 2009, with a special focus on diverse communities. He brings the practice to juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters and NYC public schools, and is passionate about supporting people finding new ways to relate to life’s stresses.


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