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The Dharma of Spiritual Abolition

Residential Program
Dates: Jul 19, 2024 - Jul 24, 2024
Days: Friday - Wednesday
Number of Nights: 5 nights

Instructor(s): Lama Rod Owens

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Program Description:

“I don’t want people to be punished for the harm they cause me or others. I want people to be free from the suffering they experience and the suffering they cause others.” ~ Lama Rod Owens 

Spiritual abolitionism is more than a critique of power and how social systems work to grant and deny people resources that they need to survive. Spiritual abolitionism means that our entire ecology must be liberated. The Heart Sutra is one of the tools available to us in this work of liberation.

The Heart Sutra teaches that all phenomena are just expressions of the essence — this includes the sacred duality between form and emptiness. The Heart Sutra is nothing but a contradiction. Therefore, sacred duality is a contradiction because ultimately, there is no duality as there are no phenomena. 

Dualities generate a tension that, through practice, we can ride back into the essence. The tension keeps us activated, which in turn keeps us from sinking into a lull or numbness from which it is difficult to break out. Using dualities like this expresses another theme of the Heart Sutra, which is the potential of liberation through contradictions. 

We will explore how we can embody and live out these contradictions in our daily lives, in service to our collective liberation for ourselves, others, and the unseen ecologies of ancestors and descendants. We have to do the labor to get ourselves free, and that is the same labor we offer to our collectives. 

Join Lama Rod for this exploration of how we might abolish anything that prevents us from being in direct, honest, and compassionate relationships first with ourselves and then the communities we belong to. 

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning. Additional silent practice periods will be scheduled throughout the program.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.


Our intention with this lottery application system is to prioritize BIPOC and Nipmuc participants. The lottery applications will close at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on March 31st, 2024 and spaces will be offered by April 14th. Payment will be due three days from notification of acceptance. Click for more information about our lottery programs. 

Cancellation Policy:
This policy applies to all residential programs, including Paths. If you need to cancel your registration, please contact us as soon as possible. Please note cancellation fees are at most $50 for those receiving financial assistance. As of 2023, 100% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel less than two weeks before the program start date and there is a $50 cancellation fee if you cancel two weeks or more in advance. Beginning in 2024, prior to six weeks before the program start date, cancellation fees are $50 for all programs more than two nights and $25 for programs two nights or less. 50% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel between two and six weeks of the program start date. 100% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel less than two weeks before the program start date.

Covid-19 Safety Protocol:
Please review our Covid-19 Safety Protocols here: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/covid-19/.

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):
  • Lama Rod Owens is a Black Buddhist Southern Queen. An international influencer with a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Author of Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation through Anger and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation, his teachings center on freedom, self-expression, and radical self-care. A leading voice in a new generation of Buddhist teachers with over 11 years of experience, Lama Rod activates the intersections of his identity to create a platform that’s very natural, engaging, and inclusive. Applauded for his mastery in balancing weighty topics with a sense of lightness, the Queen has been featured by various national and international news outlets. You can learn more about Lama Rod on his website.