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Liberation through Emptiness and Awareness Practices (LEAP)

(Formerly called Advanced Practitioners Program (APP)

May 2023 - May 2024
with Sally Armstrong, Susie Harrington, and Dawn Scott

Applications available Spring 2022.

“This is peaceful, this is excellent, namely the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.” MN 64.9

LEAP is intended for senior students of the Dhamma who want to explore the liberation teachings of the Buddha through practice, study, inquiry, and interactive exercises. It is a year-long program consisting of three retreats and is intended for those who have completed programs like Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program (DPP), Community Dharma Leader Program (CDL), Heavenly Messengers (HM), or an equivalent. Alternatively, long time practitioners or people who have participated in an equivalent program offered by another Vipassana teacher or organization are also eligible to apply.        

  • Retreat #1 | May 15 – 23, 2023 (8 nights) | Spirit Rock Meditation Center
  • Retreat #2 | November 2 – 10, 2023 (8 nights) | Spirit Rock Meditation Center
  • Retreat #3 | May 15 – 23, 2024 (8 nights) | Spirit Rock Meditation Center

The purpose of this program is to bring to life the liberating teachings of the Buddha both on retreat and in our daily practice. These retreats will focus more on silent, intensive practice than DPP or CDL, but each retreat will include regular interactive and study sessions. 

The Buddha said that he teaches just suffering and the end of suffering. These retreats will focus on the ending of suffering – Nibbana - and the practices and insights that lead to this ending. The first retreat of the program, on Awareness, is the heart of sentient life, the central faculty that reveals the phenomena of our experience. Usually, in both meditation and daily life, we pay most attention to phenomena and less to awareness itself. This retreat is an opportunity to focus on the nature of awareness and to explore this mysterious, innate capacity for knowing. This practice can open the door to emptiness, profound understanding and great freedom. To support our practice and understanding, we will study and discuss in regular interactive sessions, the teachings of the Buddha and others on the nature of awareness.

The second retreat of the program is a further development of a senior students retreat on Emptiness previously held at Spirit Rock. While retaining the teachings on emptiness, this retreat will add more direct pointing to the steps toward liberation as described by the Buddha as well as ancient and contemporary meditation masters. We will introduce and explore teachings and practices that lead to awakening through talks, readings, reflections, guided meditations, and group discussions. To support the study aspect of the retreat, on some days there will be two talks a day, in the morning and evening, as well as group discussions. To support the meditation, the retreat will include regular sitting and walking periods and will be held in silence apart from the talks, discussions and interviews.

The third retreat of the program will focus directly on the topic and practices leading toward liberation. There will also be interactive study and practice sessions throughout the week, with a period of intensive practice in the depth of the retreat. This retreat will include sessions on how to continue these practices and supporting each other once the program has ended.

The retreats will be held primarily in silence to allow for a deepening of practice, with a regular component of interactive exercises and study. There will also be the parallel intention throughout the program to develop community that can continue after the program ends. During the retreats, we will also organize other aspects of the program, such as a Dhamma buddy system, monthly study groups, and mentoring with teachers.

In addition, participants commit to maintaining both meditative and daily life practice, working with monthly homework that includes readings, reflections and meditation instructions, ongoing meetings with study/practice partners, and regular conference calls with LEAP teachers. Depending on the location of students and teachers, in person or online monthly groups will be formed.

Spirit Rock is excited to offer this program again. Our previous iterations found it to be a great support to the senior students in our community. We hope that those of you who have done DPP or CDL or have other significant study and practice experience will join us. 


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