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What Gets Left Out?: Issues of Cultural Spiritual Bypassing
Dates: Mar 06, 2019 - Mar 10, 2019
Days: Wed - Sun (4 Nights)

Instructor(s): Sebene Selassie, Brian Lesage

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What gets left out of our spiritual practice? And why? “Premature transcendence” or spiritual bypassing has been described by John Welwood as unskillfully using a spiritual practice to avoid addressing psychological wounds and unresolved personal issues. This is usually discussed only on the personal/psychological level, yet a spiritual practice can be used to avoid or “bypass” unresolved collective/cultural issues as well — 
this is what we are calling cultural spiritual bypassing. We will look at how cultural spiritual bypassing manifests both collectively and individually, especially within some contemporary convert Buddhist traditions . We will use practice, study and discussion to investigate often bypassed explorations including nature, culture, creativity, ritual/devotion, the body and the feminine. We will come together in a multicultural community to explore how to 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 experiences of these issues in safety.

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).

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.