This program will explore our embeddedness in the web of life through practices that expand our perception and intuitive connection with the more-than-human-world through our plant relatives. Plants offer us many gifts, from the very air we breathe to food, shelter, and medicine. Our bodies depend on them, but we also have much to learn about the embodiment of Dharma from these Earth elders, who express intelligence in such strikingly different ways than our own species. Although some classical Buddhist traditions regard plants as insentient, ancient Buddhist texts refer to these “stationary beings” as appropriate recipients of our loving kindness. East Asian Buddhist traditions understand them as manifesting Buddha Nature, each preaching the Dharma in its own unique way. In this program, we will draw on recent scientific findings about plant intelligence (their abilities to learn, adapt, communicate, and cooperate) and teachings from a variety of Buddhist traditions as a framework for an embodied inquiry that will help us listen more deeply to this Dharma.
Each two-hour session will begin with a chant, brief contemplation, and moving meditation (qi gong) (20 min). This will be followed by a short (20 minute) talk, and a guided meditation practice (30 min). After that, we will break into small council-style groups for joint inquiry with a prompt (15 min) and harvest that wisdom with the larger group through discussion and Q&A (25min). We will close with a short meditation (5 min). Meditation practices led by Ayya Santacitta will draw on classical Buddhist meditations on the elements, the brahma viharas, and emptiness in conjunction with sensing and attuning to information that emerges from the vibrancy of the web of life.
In between sessions, there will be short readings (no more than two pages), a prompt/question for inquiry, and a guided meditation practice. Links to additional readings and other resources will be available for those who would like to dive deeper.
Each session will involve optional break out groups and group discussion. This portion of the program will not be recorded, though the talk and guided meditation will. Everyone who attends should plan to have their camera on during the session (whenever possible).