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Paths for Awakening

The Practice and Study of Insight Meditation

Just as the great oceans have but one taste, the taste of salt, so do all the teachings of the Buddha have but one taste, the taste of liberation. ~ The Buddha

At Spirit Rock, our mission is to offer a direct experience of the Buddha’s path of liberation through a variety of retreats, practices, teachings and trainings.

Liberation means freeing the heart and mind from our usual entanglements like greed, hatred, ignorance, fear, confusion,
and the false sense of self. Spirit Rock’s programs are designed to foster personal experiences of freedom for anyone with a willingness to develop their own practice, which we understand to be for the benefit of all beings.

Throughout the history of Buddhism, as well as in many other great spiritual traditions, liberation is described as both sudden and gradual. Spirit Rock honors both sudden awakening and gradual cultivation. This guide contains practice and study suggestions for both new and experienced meditators who seek a graduated path in their exploration of the Buddha’s teachings (called “the Dharma”) and the practice of Insight Meditation (Vipassana), and who are interested in an ongoing practice in our tradition.

We have divided the suggested areas of practice in to 4 levels of experience. More information about each level, as well as recommended readings and Spirit Rock events, can be found at the following links:

Each individual arrives at Spirit Rock with a unique blend of interests and spiritual practices. As a result, we continually offer a wide range of core teachings that we believe will be helpful to most practitioners.

You do not need to follow the steps in the exact order presented here. Attending any meditation retreat or program at Spirit Rock will support your practice.

How to Participate

This guide is designed for self-directed study and exploration of Buddhist practice. These suggestions are intended to enhance your integration and understanding of the Dharma. The components at each level provide the foundation for the teachings in subsequent levels.

Guidance from a teacher, community dharma leader, or a senior student recommended by a teacher can also be helpful in developing your path of practice. At some non-residential events, you can meet with a teacher or senior student to discuss your practice and study interests. Look for programs on the Spirit Rock website and in the quarterly Newsletter & Schedule of Events that offer this option.


Spirit Rock's intention is to make the teachings accessible to everyone. Fees for full and half-day programs, classes and special events are kept as low as possible. The fees charged are a major source of operating income for Spirit Rock. No one, however, will be turned away for lack of funds. Benefit events, some special events and residential retreats are an exception to this policy. Financial aid is available for residential retreats through the Spirit Rock Scholarship Fund. A flexible work exchange program is available for class, full-day and half-day programs.

Dana (pronounced "dah-na") is a Pali word meaning generosity. Dating back to the time of the Buddha, an interdependence has existed between those who offer the teachings and those who receive them. The teachings are given freely, since they are considered priceless. Registration fees for retreats cover food, rental, transportation, and other Spirit Rock expenses. None of this money goes directly to the teachers or residential retreat staff. Classes and daylongs are also held on a donation basis. To allow the teachers and residential retreat staff to continue their dharma work, support from the students is needed. There will be an opportunity to contribute at the end of each retreat, class and daylongs.

Notice about Changes to Fee Structure, May 1, 2016

You may notice we've changed our fee structure as of May 1, 2016: Our sliding scale fees and your donations to Spirit Rock now guarantee support for our Community Meditation Center (CMC)  teachers, so we will no longer ask for teacher dana at programs and events in our CMC. For further information about these changes, please click here to read our Frequently Asked Questions.


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