Journal 3.2: Caring for the Whole, Catherine McGee interview, InterSangha 2013 wrap-up, Against the Stream trash clean-up, Spanish Dharma retreat, Retreat and event listings.
Caring for the Whole
As practice develops, it is natural for a person to adopt a larger perspective on his or her life. We come to see ourselves as an aspect of a larger whole, no longer so wrapped up in the story of our personal history and day-to-day life. We may begin to care about the whole and to harmonize our behavior to it.
For some, this care is expressed through concern for the environment. This year during the first week of October, Buddhists from many traditions will collectively participate in the first Earth Care Week, an opportunity to offer and receive teachings about Environmental Dharma, and to take actions that help care for our planet. We offer more about Earth Care Week throughout this issue.

BIN itself is also a movement toward a larger whole. Insight sanghas around the West – primarily North America and Europe – are beginning to come together into a meta-sangha, a sangha of sanghas. This issue recaps the 5th annual InterSangha meeting that occurred in late August. The 68 participants came from three dozen groups to create collective wisdom and community.

continued below.....


"The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the Earth. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise – then we can build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish."
-- Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

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BIN Board
Kim Allen, IMC
Kristin Barker, IMCW
Gary Born, London Insight
Andrea Castillo, IMC
Diana Clark, IMC
Wynn Fricke, Common Ground
Mary Stancavage, Against the Stream

BIN Advisors
Jack Kornfield
Sally Armstrong
James Baraz
Tara Brach
Noah Levine
Rodney Smith
Gil Fronsdal
Phillip Moffitt

In my own experience, looking toward a larger picture is an area for some caution also. Always pointing the mind this way can tend toward abstraction. We may begin to pursue an idea of wholeness or a fixed view about how things should come together. We may think that we have to do something to create wholeness. We may neglect the sensitivity of our own body right here, right now.
It can be useful to remember that another way to care for the whole is to care for this moment. Each moment of awareness naturally reflects and serves wholeness. In this issue's interview, Catherine McGee, a teacher at Gaia House, eloquently describes the synchrony between intimate, in-the-moment sensitivity and caring for the Earth and people everywhere. Awakening has many dimensions as we walk the Middle Way.
With a bow to all friends on the Path,
Kim Allen
BIN President

Volunteer with the Buddhist Insight Network

BIN is seeking volunteers to help with the resources we offer to the community. We have specific project opportunities and/or ongoing needs in the following areas:
  • Creation of a "sangha starter kit" with resources for setting up a group
  • Research and resource-gathering on health insurance for teachers
  • Setting up dynamic page structure on the BIN website. We have a web developer, but need the strategic viewpoint.
  • Journalist and editor expertise for Heartwood.
If any of these resonate, please send email to

Interview with Catherine McGee: The Middle Way

By Kim Allen
Catherine McGee is a teacher at Gaia House in England, the sister Insight institution to IMS and Spirit Rock. She is currently involved with the Earth Initiative being put forth by Buddhist teachers in the Insight and other traditions. She shared her perspectives on the Middle Way, new faces of Awakening, and the deepening network of international Insight practitioners. Heartwood connected with her via Skype and email.
Heartwood: You are a teacher at Gaia House. Many readers are more familiar with IMS and Spirit Rock, and less so with the sister institution in England. Could you explain the connection between these institutions and the teachers who founded them?
Catherine McGee: The founding teachers of Gaia House were Christina Feldman and Christopher Titmuss. They are peers with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg and were all practicing in Asia around the same time. Christina and Christopher began teaching in India, and after some years they came to the UK and established Gaia House, 30 years ago.
At Gaia House, the major Theravada influences have come from various Thai forest monastic traditions, as Christopher had been a monk with Ajahn Buddhadasa and Ajahn Dhammadaro in Thailand. The Gaia House Dharma culture also included a significant Mahayana perspective: Christina had practiced with the Tibetan teacher Geshe Rabten, and Stephen and Martine Batchelor (who soon joined as guiding teachers) had studied and practiced within Tibetan and Zen traditions. In the beginning I think it would be fair to say that Gaia House was known for taking a somewhat iconoclastic approach. For example, for the first years there were no Buddha images, and practitioners did not necessarily identify themselves as Buddhist, although there was still a great respect for the Buddha’s teachings.  
We have also developed a relationship with the Ajahn Chah lineage. For instance, Ajahn Sucitto and others come regularly to teach, and we are delighted that a member of the Bhikkhuni sangha will come in 2015. That is very much in line with Gaia House's culture.
HW: What role does Gaia House play relative to the urban sanghas that people attend for regular practice?
CMcG: Things have evolved a bit differently in Europe than what you have in the US right now. But to give a brief overview: About 25 years ago, teachers from Gaia House encouraged students  to set up sitting groups so that students could be in touch outside of retreat, and these have continued. Also, around 1997, practitioners in London asked if teachers from Gaia House could come and teach a daylong or a weekend. This idea spread, such that teachers from Gaia House began regularly going to various places, such as London, Cardiff, Sheffield, Oxford, Cambridge etc – quite a few.
Gaia House teachers have mostly not become Resident or Local Guiding Teachers of community sanghas, as occurs in some North American groups. Here in the UK the Insight scene isn’t as large as in North America; we have fewer teachers. Also, there has not been a training program equivalent to the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock. It is inspiring to see the reach of the urban sanghas in the USA, and perhaps at some point we can move in that direction.
HW: What inspires you about teaching? What areas of the Dharma are most prevalent in your teaching right now?
CMcG: What inspires me about teaching is the privilege of witnessing the unfolding process. Seeing a person develop into more authenticity and freedom.
As for the Dharma, what I'm really interested in is the Middle Way between all extremes, and the integration of qualities that can sometimes seem like opposites. A particular interest for me is the integration of clear seeing and sensitivity: Sometimes one can see clearly but lack sensitivity or be sensitive without the objectivity to handle it skillfully. Both qualities are necessary for transformation. Sitting in the Middle Way where we can see "this is not me, not mine, not myself" and at the same time be intimate and utterly sensitive to the phenomena. We can say: "It may not be me and mine, but it's not other than me and mine either."
This is the way to handle the sankharas – the "programming" that we live with. Through the centers of body, speech, and mind, we learn to handle the sankharas more skillfully. Being right there with the body, intimate with the energetics of the life force – that is actually where the seeing occurs, where we can soften and widen around the sankharas, and where they can begin to self-liberate.
Other potent pairs include love and power, or serenity and aliveness. As Rumi says, "Sitting at the threshold where the two worlds meet."
HW: How would you describe care for the environment from a Dharma perspective? Some teachers bring up the second precept or all of sila, others frame it more in terms of interdependence – what resonates most for you at this time?
CMcG: What resonates most for me at the moment are the radical implications of not-self. We are inclined to want to conceive of ourselves in relation to the environment. The Buddha talks about this in the sutta called The Root of All Things (MN 1): The untrained mind always conceives of oneself in relationship to something, and here he uses the four elements to illustrate this. For example: one conceives oneself as "earth" or oneself in earth, oneself as apart from earth, or earth as "mine." Even with the idea of "me caring for the environment," we might still be conceiving of ourselves as separate in relation to the environment. As if there is "me" and there is "the environment."
I am interested in exploring the Dharma of knowing that we are not separate from the environment: the environmental crisis is not me, not mine, not myself, but neither is it other than me and mine. Where does that leave us?  Here we might find the Middle Way. The intimate encounter where what moves us to respond is our love and wisdom in balance. Practicing with this perspective asks us to see where we take birth as self and thereby conceive of other, as in "I" and "the environment."
Conceiving of self in relation to the environmental crisis will likely leave us feeling helpless or striving too hard. I can see for myself that if I push myself into becoming ("I must be someone who does something to save the world!") or shrink into non-becoming ("get me out of here!") – both are dukkha. The climate crisis can lead us to awaken simply because "I" as a separate self has to open up here – we have to meet this together. This, for me, is a lived expression of understanding not-self.
I am interested in the image of Awakening we may be consciously or unconsciously carrying, and how this may need to broaden. In our Theravadan heritage, certain aspects of Awakening seem to be emphasized, such as the beautiful qualities of calm, equanimity, and spaciousness. I think we need to consider whether our ideas of Awakening fully include passion and action too. We certainly need grounding and wisdom to inform our sensitivity, action, and passion. But imagine what might be possible if we put passionate action and silent contemplation together.
Thich Nhat Hanh said the next Buddha will be the Sangha. I wonder what that might mean if it were true. We have a different set of causes and conditions to work with than existed in the pre-industrial world of 500 BCE. Awakening is Awakening, but how it manifests as a response that is intelligent and attuned may look different. Perhaps today, one way that “com-passion” may be understood is as Sangha working together with passion to express our collective Awakening.
HW: Beautiful, thank you. To move into some of those particular responses, you are currently involved in organizing the Insight teacher community for Earth Care Week at the beginning of Oct. What will happen during that week and in the lead-up to it?
CMcG: At the International Vipassana Teachers' meeting in June, a large number of those present committed to participating in Earth Care Week, which will be Oct 1-7. I've been part of a team with Mary Grace Orr and Gil Fronsdal to get ECW going, along with One Earth Sangha who will be hosting the event and providing a place for discussion and sharing ideas and inspirations. (Ed: see These could be Dharma talks, events, service projects, discussions, etc. The idea is for people to co-create these things over the time between now and October at a local level and for this week to serve as a springboard for our earth care throughout the year.
There is also another response, which is likely to be called the Buddhist Environmental Initiative, being developed by a group of Dharma teachers. It will include a number of practice orientations and commitments for our body, speech, and mind that express our Buddhist undertaking to live in harmony with the environment. We hope that many Buddhists might feel inspired to join in with this. When this is ready, it will be available via One Earth Sangha, who are acting as a hub for Green Earth Sanghas anywhere to meet and share resources and actions.
I hope the effect of all of this is to encourage people to enter into the engagement through whatever doorway speaks to their heart. It may be environmental justice, species preservation, or capping atmospheric warming. Whatever lights each of our fires is welcome and will help us move forward.
Beyond Earth Care Week, there are a number of other initiatives from the international teachers meeting that are in the process of being developed, including a group looking at social narrative and climate change, as well as a group considering how to support social resilience in the face of the social impact of climate change.
HW: Yes, it seems that Earth Care Week and other collaborations are helping to tie together the Insight community in a greater way right now. How do you see this at present, and how might these connections and collaborations evolve in the future?
All this linking-up between different sanghas and countries within our network really lights up my heart! I feel that what is happening across the Insight community, such as BIN and the Earth Care initiatives, has been there in potential, just waiting to blossom.
It seems to me that as we open to the human-caused devastation on the planet, we are asked to realize that this is a breach in the boundless heart, which comes from our believing ourselves to be separate. If we wish to move in the direction of healing, we are asked to meet all the breaches in the boundless heart, all the ways "self" and "other" has been built up to create and maintain privilege for some over others. The boundless heart becomes more available as we let go of clinging to the sense of a separate self.  
This is indeed a vast undertaking: to hold everything in our heart and respond from the understanding that everything is included and nothing can be left out. All beings, all arenas of suffering, and all of the Earth. It asks us to take the seat of the Middle Way – where the script has not previously been written, where life arises fresh, awake, responsive, intelligent and humble. What joy and real meaning to know that we do this for each other, and with each other.
You ask how these connections might evolve. I don’t know, but if indeed the next Buddha is the Sangha, maybe this tying together is a small part of that vision. Here, Sangha means all sincere beings who have a path of ethics, wholeness and wisdom (sila, samadhi, pañña). Our small Insight Network could be part of contributing to this human cooperation and Awakening in response to many levels of suffering on this planet.

Image courtesy of Catherine McGee

InterSangha 2013: Investigating Western Insight Practices

This year's InterSangha meeting – the 5th annual – was held from Aug 22-24 at the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, CA. Sixty-eight participants from three dozen Insight sanghas came to share collective wisdom, practice together, and meet each other. The group addressed a number of topics that had not been discussed at previous meetings, including teacher development and our relationship to monastics.
It was the first time the meeting has been residential; about 45 participants could be accommodated onsite. The program incorporated periods of silent practice, including silence from 9 pm until after breakfast. Many found that this enhanced their energy and sense of connection with others.
A Vision for the Insight Movement
The program began with an overview of the Insight movement and visions for the future by BIN President Kim Allen. The title of the talk – Heartwood in the West (link goes to audio) – reflected the potential for the Insight movement to both aim for and express the deepest possibilities of the Dharma.
One vision for the Insight movement is to reach a broader set of people who may have varying intentions and needs around undertaking meditation or mindfulness practice and who come from diverse cultures and lifestyles. Another vision is to serve a greater fraction of the human lifespan. If a person is born to parents who practice in the Insight tradition, what is available to them throughout their life? This could include children's and youth programs, to marriage ceremonies, all the way through to hospice care.
Key Topics
The main part of the program was organized into three broad themes: Creating Sangha, Teacher Development, and Leadership. This article can only highlight some key areas from the vast scope of what was covered.
Within Creating Sangha, diversity and inclusion remains and important area of development and interest for many groups. Nils Heymann from East Bay Meditation Center offered a heartful exploration of this topic from a Dharma perspective. Supported by a deep practice that includes time as a monk at Amaravati, as well as by work experience in the area of diversity education, Nils approached the topic as a practice in expanding our awareness and shifting our focus of attention – much as we do in meditation practice. The recording of this session – and about half the others on the program – will be available on this page. Some are there now; others to follow.
The general diversity session was followed by a breakout session for deeper exploration that included the leadership of Andrea Castillo, who has led a Dharma-in-Spanish group at IMC for two years. Structured as a round-table discussion, participants had the chance to share questions and insights from their own groups around this topic.
Teacher Development was a new theme for InterSangha. We had one session consisting of breakout groups with the half-dozen Insight teachers and teacher trainees who attended the meeting: Gil Fronsdal, Anna Douglas, Adrianne Ross, Susie Harrington, Matthew Brensilver, and Jason Murphy. (Eugene Cash came also, but could not participate in this session). It was an opportunity to hear about their current inspirations and discuss with them informally.
Wynn Fricke of Common Ground and the BIN Board then led a session that asked some direct questions about teaching that many people think about but may not voice: "What are some of the ways we define 'teacher' in our minds and communities? How do practitioners emerge and become recognized as teachers? What issues arise around identification with the role of 'teacher'?" A panel of people in different teacher roles gave shape to an open conversation about what teaching means in our communities.
Within Leadership, the group talked about the usual fruitful topics of governance and finances. But this year, we also expanded to include our relationship to the Theravada monastic Sangha. The Insight Movement is characterized by lay teachers, but there are also monastics who move in and around our scene. How do we relate to their teachings and lifestyle? What is unique and inspirational? Are there also tensions, and how might they be addressed? Susan Pembroke, former President of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis, facilitated a warm and frank discussion. Many InterSangha participants shared that they had benefited greatly from interactions with monastics, but also recognized advantages from lay teachers.
June Fukushima from Victoria Insight Meditation Society then offered a workshop on Collaborative Decision-Making, a key topic for anyone who works with others to help keep a sangha running. This practical tool – Gradients of Agreement – may help many boards move through the difficult middle stage of decision-making to arrive at a solution that everyone can live with.
The retreat and conference ended with a closing circle in the Community Hall. Participants expressed their learnings, appreciation, questions, and intentions. One person commented positively on the presence of people of color and gay people among the speakers and facilitators. Many came away with practical ideas for their groups.
Next year's InterSangha meeting will be held at Spirit Rock from August 11-14, 2014. It will still be offered for no registration fee, thanks to Spirit Rock's generosity. Looking beyond, we hope to have a meeting on the East Coast in order to make InterSangha more accessible for groups in that region. However, this depends on finding a suitable low- or no-cost venue.
Thanks to all who came and offered their experience, views, questions, and solutions. It is beautiful to witness and contribute to the strengthening of the Western Insight Movement.
This photo shows those who remained after the program ended. Total attendance was nearly 70 people. Photo courtesy of Steve Solinsky.

Environmental Relations

The heading for this issue of Heartwood is "Caring for the Whole." As noted in the introduction, this includes literal care for the Earth we share with so many beings. It is heartening to see that this area is getting directed attention at this time.

Earth Care Week

The first week of October is offered as a time when Buddhist groups can collectively show support for environmental stewardship. Doing this together will have a greater impact. The week has been named Earth Care Week; the idea grew out of this year's International Vipassana Teachers' Meeting at Spirit Rock. What might your sangha be inspired to contribute? It could be very simple. Many concrete suggestions are offered at

Here are two specific examples:

During Earth Care week at Insight Meditation Center:
  1. Guiding teacher Gil Fronsdal will focus his talks on the connection between Buddhist practice and caring for our natural world.
  2. To reduce the carbon footprint of IMC's retreat center (IRC), there will be a drive to raise money for a solar water heater.
  3. IMC encourages calculating one’s carbon footprint as a mindfulness practice (for example, see
  4. IMC encourages using ways to reduce gasoline consumption.
And the nuns at Aloka Vihara in San Francisco have planned a whole week of events, open to the public.See their site for details.

Perhaps your group is inspired to offer something also. Whatever your group does will help the whole. May it be a week of deepening wisdom, compassion, and service.

BIN's Contribution: New website section

BIN's contribution to Earth Care Week will be to launch a new section on our site called Environmental Relations. This is one portion of a larger section that will be devoted to "Dharma in Action," the way we express and live our practice in the world. In the Environmental Relations section, we aim to offer key resources for Insight teachers, leaders, and groups that wish to develop programs or offer teachings on Environmental Dharma, as well as to educate themselves on the main areas of environment-related Dharma. We are seeding it some excellent resources and will be offering more on an ongoing basis.

Community News

Against the Stream Cleans Up Its Neighborhood
By Mary Stancavage, Director of Against the Stream
Meditation practice trains the mind to shift from being reactive to being responsive. Far from passivity, the outcome of practice is skillful action.

The Against the Stream center on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles is in a very urban environment in one of the older and most culturally diverse sections of the city. Down the block from the center, the 101 freeway cuts a swath on its way from Hollywood to Downtown LA. Over the past several years, part of the street adjacent to the freeway had become a dumping ground for unwanted furniture and random garbage. It had become quite a blight and a daunting cleanup task for any individual. Several members of the ATS community had the same idea at the same time: Let’s clean this up.

We contacted our local Councilmember’s Office asking for support, and the response was astonishing. They delivered a giant roll-off dumpster, shovels, rakes, brooms, bags, gloves, and more. The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council donated refreshments. We made fliers and invited all the neighbors and members of the Episcopal Church across the street to join us.

At 8am on a delightfully overcast Sunday morning, sangha members and neighborhood residents gathered for the cleanup. Our councilmember showed up as well. One neighbor brought out a chainsaw and trimmed the runaway bougainvillea, and we sure filled that roll-off!  The street was clean within two hours. 

At 11am we had our usual Sunday morning group sit. We were invited to hold the idea of gratitude during our meditation. The Dharma talk and conversation that morning were about engagement, community, and working together. Being mindful each moment allows us to see how we can make a difference where we are, right here, right now.

Photos courtesy of Against the Stream

First U.S. Spanish-Language Insight Meditation Retreat in 2014
There is a growing population of Insight meditators in the United States whose first language is Spanish. As they have come together, and as teachers have emerged, the first few Dharma-in-Spanish sitting groups are appearing. In June 2014, the first residential Insight retreat to be offered in Spanish in the United States will occur at Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, CA.

It will be held June 26-29, 2014, and will be taught by Rebecca Bradshaw and Andrea Castillo. Registration opens February 26 and can be accessed from this page. Rebecca Bradshaw, an IMS teacher, taught a retreat in Spanish in Puerto Rico in 2012. Andrea Castillo has led a weekly Spanish Dharma group at Insight Meditation Center for the past two years.

According to the best population estimates, sometime during the summer of 2013, California ceased to have a white majority; the number of Latinos became equal to the non-Hispanic white population. During 2014, Latinos are projected to become a clear plurality, surpassing the white population. Perhaps, then, this retreat is perfectly located and timed.

Forest Refuge Fund in Support of Community Development

The Forest Refuge, part of the Insight Meditation Society, is a beautiful self-retreat center in Barre Massachusetts. It has recently been able to create a fund to offer financial assistance to people who work in the area of community development. Details are on the center's Financial Assistance page: Over $100,000 has been donated to provide full scholarships to reward and rejuvenate individuals who have been working in the US or overseas to help transform the lives of economically disadvantaged people. If you or someone you know would fit this profile and is ready for a silent retreat to rejuvenate, please pass the word!

Fall 2013 Retreat and Dharma Program Announcements

A Call for Program Announcements

BIN welcomes announcements from Insight groups and teachers for publication in the BIN newsletter. It is an opportunity to inform the wider Insight community about programs, retreats, classes, and other happenings. It is especially useful to publish items that would be accessible to many people across the community.
We are working on standardizing the formats. For now, items may be sent to or through the Contact page of our website (there is a Dharma Program Announcements category in the pulldown menu)
The following Guidelines shape what we publish:
  • Announcements come from Buddhist Insight groups and teachers, and are for Dharma-related programs
  • Announcements are for specific events/programs, not for ongoing events
  • At this time, we do not include announcements/advertisements for professional services or about secular mindfulness programs
  • Please include a website or contact email for further info, if possible
  • Announcements may be up to 125 words (more than 125 words, the announcement becomes an article and goes through a different process for inclusion)

Fall 2013 Program Announcements:

In the future, BIN will create a Retreat Database with a way to enter data in a standard format. For now, we accept entries by email.

Insight Meditation South Bay will offer these retreats in California during 2013. For further information on any of these, please use or
  • Clarity and Insight: an Insight Meditation retreat focusing on insight and the body, with Shaila Catherine and Bhante U Jagara (Nov 7 – 17, Ben Lomond, CA). Held at Quaker Retreat Center, this retreat will include instructions in the Four Elements Meditation.

Insight Retreat Center (Santa Cruz, CA): IRC is offering these and other retreats (registration available at All IRC retreats are offered freely at no cost to anyone who participates. Most of the financial support comes from donations participants offer at the end of retreats. Their generosity is what allows others to participate in future retreats.
  • Insight Retreat with Gil Fronsdal and Leigh Brasington, Jan 26-Feb 2, 2014 (7 nights)
  • Insight Retreat with Gil Fronsdal and John Travis, Feb 18-22, 2014 (4 nights)
  • Insight Retreat with Andrea Fella and Kamala Masters, March 13-20, 2014 (7 nights)
  • Study Retreat with Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella, April 5-11, 2014 (6 nights)
  • Insight Retreat with Gil Fronsdal, Mel Weitsman, and Max Erdstein, May 4-11, 2014 (7 nights)
Saranaloka New Year's Retreat with Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta. Monastic retreat, Dec 26-Jan 4, Angela Center (Santa Rosa, CA). An opportunity to enter the new year with quiet clarity. See the Saranaloka website for registration.

Insight Dialogue Retreat: Cultivating Wisdom in Relationship (Feb 10-15, 2014, San Diego CA): Taught by Gregory Kramer and Bart van Melik. How might it be to meet “the other” in the fully-blossomed mindfulness of meditation? How does wisdom live in us, transmit through us, manifest in our relationships when the “I” is released?While dialoguing in meditation with others, the heart relaxes in recognition of the shared human experience. Holding “retreat” as one element in the mosaic of awakening, we will live the following question throughout our time together: “How can this practice support insight right now and be carried forward into my entire life?” For info and registration, contact Sarah Ruth Gomes,


Breaking the Addiction to the Mind: Retreat with Noah Levine (Oct 25-30, Breitenbush, OR): Noah Levine will present a completely non-theistic approach to recovery that is drawn from the Four Buddhist Truths and Eight Fold path. Although this retreat is primarily for recovering addicts everyone is welcome. Therapists, social workers and health care professionals are encouraged to attend. Register.

Midwest and Texas

New Year's Retreat: Mindfulness, Concentration, and Awakening (Dec 28-Jan 4, Chappell Hill, TX): Taught by Shaila Catherine. We will emphasize the cultivation of both concentration and mindfulness to enhance the potential for liberating insight. By cultivating a calm, clear awareness, we can dissolve any suffering that may entangle our hearts and discover our freedom in the midst of things. For information, contact Kathy Ferland:

Awakening with Insight (Feb 13-23, 2014, Kansas City, KS): Taught by Shaila Catherine. For registration, contact John Yaffe:


Insight Retreat with Noah Levine (Oct 4-6, Lennox, MA): The simple but profound The Buddhist practices of mindfulness, kindness, and compassion lead us into a state of freedom in daily lifeClick here for info and registration.

Beneath Words: Practicing at the Boundary of Apprehension & Language (Oct 12-20, Barre MA): Taught by Gregory Kramer. Meditators often fear language; it is seen as the enemy, as the garbage of a mind out of control. And yet they often spend much of their time in silent meditation lost in thoughts that take the form of inner speech.There is another way: Insight Dialogue is a field for practice at the boundary of language and direct, wordless apprehension of experience.This retreat combines silent vipassana practice with carefully guided Insight Dialogue meditation, Dhamma talks, and time in nature, all within the container of noble silence. Contact Barre Center for Buddhist Studies to register.


Online sutta study with Shaila Catherine: Insight Meditation South Bay has offered sutta study classes for many years, and for the last few years has taken the program online. A monthly group will meet by Skype in 2014 with teacher Shaila Catherine to study the texts of the Samyutta Nikaya. The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya) is perhaps the most comprehensive and important collection of discourses in the Pali Canon. Structured according to topic, this collection includes a full spectrum of dhamma themes including teachings on mindfulness and jhana practice, five aggregates, sensory processes, enlightenment, advice for householders, and the core doctrine of dependent origination.These ancient practices are still quite relevant today, and together the group will discover how to read and find value in them. For registration, send email to

Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage. Dharmawheels is a sangha of bicyclists and their friends who come together to share the Dharma along with their love of cycling and to participate in an annual dana-supported Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage. On September 28-29, we will journey 150 miles from Spirit Rock to Ukiah, visiting Sae Taw Win, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and Abhayagiri Monastery along the way. Joining us will be the bhikkhunis of Aloka Vihara. This is especially appropriate, for September 29th will be the 3rd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day, a day created to commemorate the Buddha ’s ordaining of women. Please join us. To learn more, visit

And finally, thanks to Mike Zittel of Against the Stream for the lovely Heartwood header on this publication.
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