Extended Study Programs
Once you've attended many Spirit Rock programs and a number of retreats, and the teachings of the Buddha have become integral to your daily life, you may feel ready to commit to one of our extended study programs to deepen your practice.
The Dedicated Practitioners Program is an innovative program for serious practitioners of Insight meditation to deepen understanding of the Dharma, strengthen practice, and integrate compassion and wisdom into our day-to-day lives. Through this program, we study traditional texts and Buddhist suttas and use the dharma, our meditation practice, and our sangha to understand ways suffering and freedom is created in our hearts, our lives, our communities, and the world. Integral to this program is an exploration of the gross and subtle manifestations of social suffering evidenced through innocence and ignorance, and its impact on personal and collective well-being and liberation. Our intention is to create a diverse and vibrant community of practitioners who support each other in waking up and in bringing more wisdom and compassion into the world. This program, designed as an intensive lay practice period, offers a comprehensive curriculum on the Buddha's teachings over two years. In addition to five 7-day training retreats, participants commit to maintaining meditative practice, monthly coursework, monthly group meetings, and contact with a mentoring teacher.
The Advanced Practitioners Program 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. The purpose of this program is to bring to life the liberating teachings of the Buddha both on retreat and in our daily practice.
In these demanding times of deep suffering from spiritual, economic, socio-political and environmental ills, the practices of Buddhism can support ethical, wise and compassionate responses. As the Dharma sinks deeper into Western experience, access to practice in diverse, multicultural communities is beginning to widen. As this bears fruit, leaders who are ethical, understand the principles of Dharma practice, and can elicit clarity, kindness, patience and wisdom within their communities, are urgently needed. In support of this, Spirit Rock offers training and support for committed Dharma practitioners who have potential to develop leadership skills. The foundation of the training is the ancient lineage of Theravada, yet, it is also designed to encourage creative, intuitive and innovative responses in applying these timeless teachings to contemporary lives. These teachings offer a Path through the complex difficulties of our world in spiritual, social, political, cultural, interpersonal, and personal contexts.
Retreat Teacher Training is an intimate 4-6 year process that includes extensive study of traditional texts and contemporary Theravada teachings, a wide range of teaching skills and practices, mentoring and apprenticeship with senior teachers, as well as further training with meditation masters from a variety of lineages. For the past 25 years, Spirit Rock has sponsored these teacher training groups, and trained teachers across the country. Initially these trainings were offered by Jack Kornfield, and now they are run collaboratively by a collective of teachers from Spirit Rock, the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA and the Insight Meditation Center (IRC) in Redwood City, CA.
Students cannot apply for this level of training. Instead, every four to six years, retreat teachers from Spirit Rock and associated communities recommend their best candidates – students who they believe have the profound depth of meditation practice, the wisdom, experience, compassion, maturity and teaching temperament to join the next training group. Such candidates will almost always have done dedicated years of practice and a number of extended retreats, such as regular two-month retreats at Spirit Rock, three-month retreats at IMS, and, in many cases, periods of training in Asia.