engaged buddhist training

“It’s my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. It’s very pressures, pains and risks can wake us up – release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast true nature.” – Joanna Macy

The ecodharma Engaged Buddhist Training series sits within the general framework of Self + Society: a radical response.

The approach equips us to answer for ourselves the following questions:

  • What does the social and ecological context mean for the practice of Dharma today?
  • What does Dharma practice have to offer our times?
  • And, what does this mean for our collective practice of Dharma as a community of practitioners or Sangha?

The approach we are developing at Ecodharma suggests that individuals and communities need to work simultaneously on the inner and outer work of transforming self and society. The tools and methods of the Buddhist tradition have proven themselves over many centuries to enable radical personal and collective transformation. In our practice the creative tension between self transformation and social engagement acts as an important catalyst for liberation.

Today the 3-fold practice of ethics, meditation, and insight can enable us to:

  • Develop a focused integration of our energies and motivations, necessary for consistent, inspired and committed action.
  • Root our experience in emotional resilience, which supports us to stay open and responsive – avoiding the dangers of emotional hardening, cynicism, and overwhelm.
  • Tap into the deeper resources we need to face the challenges of our times – the courage, clarity and open heartedness we need to find creative responses that carry us beyond cycles of hope and hopelessness.
  • Learn how to live a life dedicated to the service of others without falling into the unhealthy traps of self-sacrifice.
  • Activate our capacity to make a difference, emphasizing our agency and responsibility, without succumbing to the inflated stories of control and human domination which lead to exploitation and ecological damage.
  • Put into effective practice the ethical principles of kindness, generosity, and skilful communication, which strengthen the basis for collective action and shared vision.
  • Acquire the skills and abilities to build groups and communities that are truly expressive of our values.
  • Avoid the traps of ideological thinking, grounding our personal and inter-personal strategies in an attitude of ongoing inquiry and learning.

The ecodharma Engaged Buddhist Training series includes a range of specific courses and retreats:

Engaged Buddhist Training: Offers tools that integrate the inner dimension of change with practical skills in organizing, building community, and designing effective strategies for social action. It brings together the best in activist education with Dharma based practice for personal and interpersonal transformation.

Heartfood for Hardtimes: Focuses on the emotional resources and resilience we need to bring forth the best within ourselves and others to meet the challenges of our times. The Buddhist tradition offers key practices, known as the Brahma Viharas, to unlock the resources within our hearts.

Nature Based Practice and Learning Series: These courses integrate wilderness immersion and nature based learning with meditation and mindfulness practices. Time in wild nature is one of the most powerful ways of healing alienation and enabling us to come back into an empowering re-connection with the non-human world – a reconnection integral to the healing of our world.

Exploring Ecodharma and other study events: These workshops explore practical and theoretical integration of deep and radical ecology with a dharma based approach. One example of these courses in 2015 is Permaculture and Deep Ecology.

Insight and Action: “When we recognize the empty nature, the energy to benefit others dawns spontaneous and effortless.” The wisdom teachings of Dharma are a source of liberation in which the very basis of our distinctions between self and other are seriously revised. This workshop is in development for 2015.

Month Long Practice Retreat: The deeper our inner practice the more effective our outer work. This annual retreat offers an opportunity to dedicate important time to meditation. Mostly in silence, with guidance and meditation interviews as needed, it is an ideal start to the annual cycle.

In addition to drawing on core Dharma, we integrate other helpful methods and approaches in our work. For us Dharma need not be constrained by the religious forms of the tradition, but embraces any practice which authentically supports liberation.