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Plants and Us: Consciously Re-Rooting in the Web of Life

Online Program
Dates: Sep 09, 2024 - Oct 07, 2024

Instructor(s): Karin Meyers and Ayya Santacitta

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Program Description:
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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).


Prerequisites:

Participants should be familiar with basic Buddhist doctrine and meditation. 


Online Schedule:
This program is hosted on Zoom and closed captions are available. You can check the time of the group sessions in your timezone here: https://www.worldtimebuddy.com. The schedule of Zoom meetings for this program (shown in US Eastern Time) is as follows:

Meeting Time: Mondays, 6:00-8:00 PM ET

Meeting Dates: September 9, 16, 23, 30, October 7


Please note that sessions will be recorded and made available to participants within 48 hours of each session. Recordings remain available for two weeks from the program end date with the exception of one-time events, available indefinitely on our website.

Cancellation Policy:
Registration fees for all online programs are nonrefundable after the program start date. Cancellations prior to the program start date incur a $25 cancellation fee. Application-based and online path programs incur a $100 cancellation fee.

DEI:
As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive 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.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Karin Meyers (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the Academic Director of the Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley. She has taught courses in Buddhist and religious studies at several colleges in the US (most recently, Smith College), and for seven years at Kathmandu University and Ranjung Yeshe Institute’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal, where she also served as director of the Masters Program in Buddhist Studies. She first became acquainted with engaged Buddhism when she worked for the International Campaign for Tibet and Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the late 1990s and recently returned to these roots in organizing Extinction Rebellion Buddhists in Boston and Central Massachusetts. In 2019, she served as a Retreat Support Fellow at the Insight Meditation Society. Her current focus is writing, teaching, and hosting conversations between academic Buddhist Studies scholars and Dharma practitioners with the intention of supporting and inspiring engaged Buddhist responses to pressing social, political, and ecological crises. Her Dharma practice is rooted in Theravāda and Tibetan Buddhism.

  • Santacitta Bhikkhuni was born in Austria and began her monastic training in England and Asia in 1993, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Santacitta Bhikkhuni co-founded Aloka Vihara in 2009 and received Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2011. She is committed to Gaia as a living being and resides at Aloka Earth Room, currently located in San Rafael, CA.