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Spiritual Friendship and the Liberating Power of Dhamma Dialogue
Dates: Feb 26, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Online Course

Instructor(s): Charles Hallisey, Janet Surrey

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In the Kalyana Mitta sutta, the Buddha proclaims the centrality of spiritual friendship as the “whole of the life of practice,” a treasure of refuge, and a dhamma doorway. What emerges from study and contemplation of the teachings on friendship is the value of dhammakatha (dhamma talk) as a crucial and creative element of such noble friendship. We will contemplate these teachings together and investigate the liberating power of non-hierarchical dhamma dialogue.

Drawing on Pali texts, we will consider examples of friends living and practicing together, particularly among the first Buddhist women and the lifelong friendship of Sariputta and Mogallana, chief disciples of the Buddha. We will explore ways these friendships can teach and inspire us and the challenges and great potential for valuing and cultivating such friendships in our own lives.

This online retreat will include periods of study and dhamma talk, silent meditation, and dhamma contemplation according to the guidelines of Insight Dialogue which establish embodied meditative qualities of the heart/mind in the relational field and allow speaking and listening to become a pathway for deep sharing of dhamma.


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 sessions. The schedule of Zoom meetings for this course (shown in US Eastern Time) is as follows:


Friday, February 26

6:00 – 8:00 pm, Opening Session


Saturday, February 27

7:00 – 7:45 am, Early Morning Session

9:30 am – 12:00 pm, Morning Session

4:00 – 6:00 pm, Afternoon Session

6:30 – 7:00 pm, Evening session


Sunday, February 28

7:00 – 7:45 am Early Morning Session

9:30 am – 12:00 pm, Morning Session


Please check the time of the group meetings in your timezone here, and please note that sessions will not be recorded.

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.

  • Charles Hallisey is Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures at Harvard Divinity School where he teaches about Buddhist scriptures and Buddhist ethics as well as Pali language and literature. His translation of the Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women was published in the Murty Classical Library of India in 2015.

  • 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.


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