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Liberation Through Non-Clinging: An Exploration of the Five Aggregates
Dates: Apr 17, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Online Course

Instructor(s): Jill Shepherd

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The goal of the Buddhist path is sometimes defined as “liberation through non-clinging.” But what is meant by clinging? In the First Noble Truth, the Buddha proclaimed that there is dukkha (suffering, stress, distress, unsatisfactoriness), and he defined dukkha in short as “the five clinging-aggregates” of form, feeling-tone, perception, formations, and consciousness.

To have any possibility of experiencing the freedom of non-clinging, we first need to understand the nature of our clinging more fully. In this six-week online course, we will explore the five clinging-aggregates through weekly two-hour meetings on Zoom, comprising short talks, guided meditations, and interpersonal practice in pairs and small groups using the guidelines of Insight Dialogue. 

Our group practice will be complemented by home study and practice of at least two hours per week, using the Canvas platform to access supplementary readings and dharma talks, and to contribute to an online discussion board.

Practicing in solitude and together, we can directly experience not only the dukkha of clinging, but the possibility of its release.

Prerequisite: At least two insight meditation retreats of one week or longer, plus basic familiarity with core Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.

As we work to become a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming; please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.


Online Course: Our intention is to build sangha and provide meaningful virtual interactions with each other and teachers in our online courses. When registering for an online course, please note that you should plan to commit to attending all scheduled live group sessions. There will be a space on the application to indicate which group options you are available for. 


Based on the availability indicated on the application, participants will be assigned a space in one of the three small group options. Spaces will be offered after the application period closes on March 10. Applications are processed on a lottery basis, with some spaces reserved for people of color and young adults. Applicants will receive notification regarding their registration status by March 15. 


The schedule of small group Zoom meetings for this course (shown in US Eastern Time) is as follows (participants will be assigned one group option). 


Option 1: Saturdays, 7:00-9:00 PM, between April 17 – May 23 

Option 2: Sundays, 3:30-5:30 AM between April 17 – May 23 (this group is for participants outside of US time zones)

Option 3: Sundays, 5:00-7:00 PM between April 17 – May 23 

Meeting Dates: April 17/18, 24/25, May 1/2, 8/9, 15/16, 22/23


Meeting options can be viewed in different time zones here.


Registration fees for online courses are nonrefundable after the course start date. Cancellations prior to the start date of the course will incur a $50 admin fee. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Jill Shepherd began practicing insight meditation in Thailand in 1999, and since that time has lived and worked at several meditation centers and monasteries in the US, Australia, England, and Thailand. She spent seven years on staff at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, where she participated in several long retreats and Buddhist study programs, as well as offering weekly meditation classes at a nearby men’s prison. She is a graduate of the IMS / Spirit Rock teacher training program in the US.   Jill has recently facilitated BCBS's online Entering the Path course for three iterations.


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