Gen X Dharma Teachers in the house!
by Anushka Fernandopulle, Spirit Rock Teachers Council
Earlier this summer, there was a multi-lineage gathering of Gen X dharma teachers at Deer Park Monastery (Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition) near San Diego. About 60 lay and monastic dharma teachers came together to explore issues of being a Buddhist teacher in the 21st century in the West, to inspire and support each other, and to learn from each other's lineages. Deer Park graciously offered us the space for the gathering, and extended the invitation for people to bring their partners and children along. I was on the planning committee facilitating the retreat, which consisted of five Gen X teachers from different lineages. Other attendees who teach at Spirit Rock were Tempel Smith, Pascal Auclair and Heather Sundberg.
Much of the gathering was held in an open-space format in small groups, where participants discussed topics of interest such as: financial sustainability; teaching about re-birth and karma in the West; issues of transmission; the secular mindfulness movement; dating as a dharma teacher; teaching lay people about sexuality; issues around male dominance and patriarchy; what is enlightenment/awakening and how do you recognize it; sustaining our own practice; creating more inclusive sanghas; ethics and how to hold teachers accountable; LGBTQ issues; and much more. We also went on a group hike, had a no-talent show, practiced meditation together, and had lots of time to connect one on one.
Among the things that seem to be emerging from this event are a variety of projects including a multi-lineage Buddhist ethics commission, an anthology of writings of people who left monastic life and are living as lay people, a multi-lineage LGBTQ retreat, many new friendships, and the seeds for another such gathering in the future. All in all it was a joyful, creative time. The dharma is in good hands.
Join Anushka on September 22 for 'Mindfulness & Innovation'