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.