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What Gets Left Out? Expanding Practice, Community, and Freedom
Dates: Jul 22, 2020 - Jul 26, 2020
Days: Wed - Sun (4 Nights)

Instructor(s): Sebene Selassie, Brian Lesage

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Buddhist traditions are vast. Even within a single tradition, such as Theravāda, there is a wide range of practices. Why don't we practice them? In this course, we will investigate some of the cultural frameworks (including patriarchy, colonialism and norms of modernity) that we bring to our study and practice of Buddhism and how these frameworks shape what is included and what gets left out. Exploring these frameworks can help us understand the prevalence of contemporary practices that emphasize individuality, autonomy, and rationality. Having this understanding can open a space to explore practices that explicitly engage nature, ritual, devotion, the body, the feminine, and identity. Together we will investigate the ways in which our own practice is constrained and can turn us away from addressing questions of identity and social location. We will experiment with practices that liberate us from our constraints and expand our understanding of practice, community, and freedom. There will also be time for affinity groups where people of color and white people can explore and investigate their particular experiences.

Learning Intentions:

To understand one's location both as an individual (race, class, gender, etc) and as a practitioner (lineages, practices, etc); understand the multiplicity of locations within the Buddhadharma; cultivate an appreciation for, and experience of, various practices including chanting, bowing, and devotional practices; develop an appreciation for the role of the the body, the natural world, and unseen beings/mystery in practice; and cultivate an awareness of power and oppression and how those impact the expressions of the Buddhadharma (especially as related to race, gender, sexuality and class).

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • Sebene Selassie began studying Buddhism over 25 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader (CDL4) program at Spirit Rock and continues her training with her primary teachers, Thanissara and Kittisaro. Sebene serves on the board of Sacred Mountain Sangha. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. Sebene is passionate about making the dharma accessible and relevant for our times.

  • Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000.  He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide. Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma.