*Email Newsletter signup:
Slideshow image

Dedicated Practitioners' Program (DPP5) - Spring 2014


NOTE: The next Dedicated Practitioners Program, DPP6, will begin in Spring 2017 – the application process will start Spring 2016.

The Dedicated Practitioners' Program is an innovative program designed for serious practitioners of Insight Meditation to expand their understanding of the Dharma and intensify their practice. DPP offers a comprehensive curriculum on the Buddha’s teachings over 2 years, designed as an intensive lay practice period.

In addition to 5 seven-day training retreats (usually scheduled in the spring and fall), participants commit to maintaining both meditative and daily life practice, working with monthly homework that includes readings, reflections and meditation instructions, maintaining contact with their interview teacher and regular meetings with study/practice partners. Students who have participated in the past three programs have found that it has had a profound impact on their meditation practice, providing a focus and inspiration for deepening their understanding of Buddhism and bringing the dharma alive in new and often unexpected ways. 
Become a part of a community that will challenge, broaden and vitalize your understanding and embodiment of central Buddhist teachings.

Core Faculty: Andrea Fella and Tempel Smith


Associate & Assistant Faculty (teaching two or more of the five retreats): Sally Armstrong, Pascal Auclair, Anushka Fernandopulle,
Shahara Godfrey, Ruth King, Phillip Moffitt, Larry Yang



Visiting Faculty:  Visiting faculty for DPP5 is not finalized. Prior DPP programs have included Jack Kornfield, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhikkhu Analayo, Ayya Tathaloka, Guy Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, Adrianne Ross.

(PDF) Download here / (Word doc) Download here

Requirements for the program are 5 years of practice and 50 nights of residential retreat practice in the Insight Meditation (vipassana) tradition. Become a part of a community that will challenge, broaden and vitalize your understanding and embodiment of central Buddhist teachings.

The retreats include periods of meditation practice with the teachings offered seminar-style--interactive, participatory and creative. The retreats are not held in silence: the teaching sessions and many meal times are not silent. This allows a strong sense of community to develop amongst the program participants. Because of these interactive periods, we will also include teachings and practices on mindful speaking and listening, to support working skillfully with all the issues that arise in our communication with others.

Our intention is that DPP5 will create a community of practitioners from diverse backgrounds and cultures--a mix of genders, ethnicities, classes, sexual orientations, ages, and abilities--who will support each other’s dharma practice. Before joining this program, please reflect on your interest and capacity to meet and interact with people who might have different histories, stories and views than your own, and on your willingness to engage with and make discoveries about others.

Five 7-day residential retreats: Our intention is to challenge, broaden and vitalize your understanding and embodiment of central Buddhist teachings through in-depth study, reflection and practice. The retreats include periods of meditation practice but the teachings are seminar-style, interactive, participatory and creative.

Topics will include:

    •    Four Noble Truths
    •    Eightfold Path
    •    Understanding Dependent Origination and Karma
    •    Worldly Dharmas: sex, money, work and relationships
    •    Being Guided by Buddhist Cosmology and World View
    •    Four Foundations of Mindfulness (all the parts you never knew)
    •    Compassion and the Bodhisattva Path
    •    Embodied Speech and Enlightened Activity
    •    Five Aggregates and the teachings of Not-Self
    •    Brahma Viharas: The Fullness of the Awakened Heart
    •    Working with Emotions, Fetters and Entanglements
    •    Learning from the Suttas, and making them come alive
    •    Freedom, Liberation and Nibbana

Study Curriculum: Year-round, ongoing study of suttas, texts and contemporary Dharma writings with monthly study assignments for each topic.

Dharma Buddies: Scheduled Dharma discussion and reflection with a study buddy.

Interviews: Regular half-hour interviews with a mentoring teacher, focusing on sitting practice, DPP homework, personal dharma development and integration. Interviews will be offered monthly or every other month, in person or by phone at the teacher's discretion, and will be held on a dana basis.

Classes: Between retreats, periodic (monthly or every other month) classes will be offered. DPP groups may form in areas such as San Francisco, Marin County, the East Bay, Redwood City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver, BC where teachers are available. If you do not live in an area near a DPP teacher, we will likely be offering a class that you can participate in via conference calls.
These classes will combine Dharma and text study with personal investigation into living and fulfilling our Dharma practice. There may be a small fee for some classes if rent needs to be paid for the class meeting space, otherwise classes are held on a dana basis.

Sponsoring Teacher: Applicants need a sponsoring teacher. A sponsoring teacher is someone who currently teaches at the Insight Meditation Society, Spirit Rock or Gaia House and knows you and your meditation practice, and is supportive of your application to DPP. To sponsor you, all they have to do is to allow you to list their name on your application form. We may contact to them to provide a reference for your application. This teacher may also be willing to be your mentoring teacher. A mentoring teacher provides 6-12 interviews a year during the course of the DPP program. If you do not have a mentoring teacher, one will be assigned to you.

Costs: The Program fee includes five retreats and is based on a sliding scale. Time payment arrangements and limited scholarship support are available to help with payment of fees. Actual fees will be posted on the application, which will be downloadable from this page when it is available (in Spring/Summer 2013).

Retreat 1 (at Angela Center): May 19-26, 2014
Retreat 2 (at Spirit Rock): November 12-19, 2014
Retreat 3 (at Angela Center): May 17-24, 2015
Retreat 4 (at Spirit Rock): November 11-18, 2015
Retreat 5 (at Angela Center): May 22-29, 2016

All interviews and teachings will be offered on a dana basis.

Communication: Because of the volume of mail that is sent out in DPP (homework, readings and other information), we use email and the internet for communication with students. To this end, we require that everyone who joins DPP has access to email and the internet, either through your own computer, through a DPP buddy, or through a family member or friend who would be willing to pass along all the messages related to DPP.

We offer this program to meet the growing needs of lay practitioners in our sangha. The program adds another dimension to our practice, deepening and maturing the Buddha-dharma here in the West. We welcome and encourage your participation in the Dedicated Practitioners' Program. Please join us!

Please send all inquiries to DPP5@SPIRITROCK.ORG.

Applications are due - October 1, 2013


Testimonials from Past DPP Participants

One of the things I've appreciated most about my practice on silent meditation retreats is the chance to just drop my habitual patterns of relating to people. Upon re-emerging into the world of social contact after a silent retreat, I have usually noticed subtle shifts in how I relate to people: over time, some of my habitual patterns have gotten weaker. With the interactive practices offered in the DPP, the shifts have been dramatic. Mindful interactive practices were for me a radical experience of authenticity in communication. Having experienced that level of authenticity and sharing in a safe environment, I find myself more willing to be authentic in daily life interactions. For me, the DPP has been as much about exploring community as about exploring the Dharma. The experience of trust and intimacy with such a large group of people has been extremely powerful.  -- Rachel 

One of the greatest benefits of the DPP program was the "Dharma Buddy" element.  For years I sat silent retreats with total strangers who now, thanks to DPP, are my closest friends. It doesn't matter who you choose to be your dharma buddy; each of us is a teacher and a student in our own unique way. I started out buddying up with an acquaintance who was in the program, and then a total stranger asked to be my buddy, so we became three. And then, during the course of the two years, I deeply connected with several other people who I adopted (or perhaps they adopted me) as dharma buddies. I speak on the phone or email those is distant cities, and we visit each other. Those who are local have formed a Kalyana Mitta (Dharma Friends) group that meets monthly. By the end of the program I had more than a half dozen close dharma buddies with whom I will undoubtedly continue sharing the dharma for years to come.  -- David

As a parent, the DPP gave me the focus and permission to deeply commit to my practice for two years. While I was uncertain initially about the impact on my family, the depth of practice has deeply served us and I have come much closer to the parent I always wanted to be!  -- Maureen

Participating in DPP has been one of the best experiences of my life. After two years of guided practice and study of the dharma, I feel confident and happy to go on with my life with a sense of meaning and connectedness. This is the greatest gift from life one can get.  -- Alicia

Embracing the Challenge: a published article about the DPP.

Teachers Bios

Andrea Fella
has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and began teaching meditation classes in 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the U.S. and Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janeka. Andrea teaches at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, and teaches residential retreats at centers around the country.

Tempel Smith began practicing intensive Insight and Metta retreats in 1989 under the guidance of Michele McDonald, Steve Armstrong and Joseph Goldstein. He spent a year as a monk in Burma with Sayadaw U Pandita and Pa Auk Sayadaw, and has been teaching since 1997. He is the founder of BASE House, a collective of Buddhist activists and service providers in San Francisco. Tempel recently finished a four year teacher-training program run by Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California and Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. Tempel also leads pilgrimages in Burma and India.

Sally Armstrong began practicing vipassana meditation in India in 1981. She spent five years in England, where she managed a retreat center and was a founding member of the Sharpham meditation community. When she moved to California in 1988, she continued her dharma service at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in a number of roles, including executive director. Sally began teaching in 1996, and is one of the guiding teachers of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner Program.

Phillip Moffitt traded in his worldly aspirations at the peak of his career as CEO and Editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine to explore the inner life. He subsequently founded the Life Balance Institute in Northern California which is a non-profit organization devoted to providing training and resources for individuals and executives in how to live a more satisfying, values-based life. Phillip teaches vipassana meditation at retreat centers throughout the United States, leads a weekly meditation class in Marin County, and is Co-Guiding Teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is the author of Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in Everyday Life and Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life.

Larry Yang teaches meditation retreats nationally and has a special interest in creating access to the Dharma for diverse multicultural communities. Larry has practiced extensively in Burma and Thailand, with a six month period of ordination as a Buddhist monk under the guidance of meditation master Ajahn Tong. Larry is one of the core teachers and leaders of the East Bay Meditation Center and is on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. His web page is www.larryyang.org.

Anushka Fernandopulle is a lifelong spiritual practitioner who has trained for over 20 years in the Theravada tradition in the U.S., India and Sri Lanka and teaches retreats and workshops around the country. Anushka also works as an executive coach and management consultant, influenced by a BA in anthropology and religion from Harvard University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Anushka is on the Spirit Rock Teacher's Council, the teaching team at San Francisco Insight, the Leadership Sangha at East Bay Meditation Center, and is lead teacher of the San Francisco LGBT sangha. Her teaching is informed by creative arts, nature, political engagement, technology and modern urban life. For more information, visit www.anushkaf.org.

Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practices since 1997. In 2006 he was invited by Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein to join the teacher training program at Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society (IMS). He is now enjoying teaching retreats at these two centers, and he is a co-founder of True North Insight Meditation Centre in Canada. His depth of insight, classical training, and creative expression all combine in a wise and compassionate presence. For more information, visit www.truenorthinsight.org.



© 2014 Spirit Rock - An Insight Meditation Center
PO Box 169 • Woodacre, CA • 94973