Loading Events

« All Courses

  • This event has passed.
The Power of Spiritual Friendship: A Dharma Contemplation Retreat

Residential Program
Dates: Nov 11, 2022 - Nov 16, 2022
Days: Friday - Wednesday
Number of Nights: 5 nights

Instructor(s): Gregory Kramer, Janet Surrey

Course Navigation

Program Description:

Spiritual friendship or kalyanamitta is necessary to make progress on the path of awakening and goodness. This is a powerful and sometimes overlooked teaching of the Pali suttas. The multi-layered, methodical, and relational meditation practice of Dharma Contemplation is a potent practice by which the discourses of the Buddha can come alive for us. The practice of Dharma Contemplation directly engages the meditative qualities cultivated in silent meditation and the relational power of spiritual friendship in a deep encounter with the Dhamma. The practice, evolved in this form by Gregory Kramer, was developed within the ancient spiritual traditions of reading sacred texts and the establishment of the relational meditation practice of Insight Dialogue.

During this program we will explore many of the Buddha’s key teachings on friendship and gain insight into the connections between mitta (friendship) and metta (lovingkindness). Why does the Buddha say that good friendship is the whole of the holy life? What are the characteristics of a good friend? What connects friendship with the factors of awakening? How are mindfulness and lovingkindness related and how do they work together to protect us? How are good friendship and right view connected?

The power of spiritual friendship extends beyond the refined aspects of the spiritual path. Our whole lives are our path, and the power of good friendship and of knowing our relational nature extends to the challenges of relating across race, gender, economic, and cultural differences. Relational Dhamma teachings also shed light on our family and long term intimate relationships. The depth of friendship can be a source of resilience, patience, and wholesome urgency in a world that often feels like it is falling apart.

Dharma Contemplation uses multiple approaches to a text that engage different facets of our humanity. Insight Dialogue and Dharma Contemplation work together to bring the teachings alive here and now. In pairs, and small and large groups—and occasionally alone—we will learn and repeatedly practice the five phases of Dharma Contemplation. This program will be particularly helpful for anyone who is interested in forming a Dharma Contemplation group online or in their home community.

Noble Silence:
This program includes dedicated periods of both wise speech and noble silence. Some contemplative exercises may involve mindful speaking and listening. Noble silence is to be upheld at all other times.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Gregory Kramer is the founding teacher of the Insight Dialogue Community and has been teaching vipassanā since 1980, having been trained by Ven. Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera, Punnaji Maha Thera, Achan Sobin Namto, and Anagarika Dhammadina. He is the co-creator and developer of Insight Dialogue and teaches this practice and Dharma Contemplation worldwide. He is the founder-director of Metta Foundation and the author of Insight Dialogue: The Interpersonal Path to Freedom and A Whole Life Path: A Layperson’s Guide to a Dhamma-Infused Life. Formerly a National Endowment for the Arts Composition Fellow and founder of the Electronic Art Ensemble, Gregory still composes and improvises.

  • Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a longstanding practice group in the Boston area. 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 is currently serving on the Teachers Council of 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.