Contemplative practice can awaken a wider sense of self, deep compassion, and the cognitive tools to effectively act in the world. With the planet facing ecological catastrophe and our political reality in turmoil, we need contemplative training that meets the needs of the 21st century and empowers those who seek meaningful contribution. Dharma Gates connects young people to monastic practice and challenges existing notions of what it means to be human. Our values are expressed in the following principles:
Contemplative practice can train us to effectively catalyze change first in ourselves and then in the world. What this means in each of our lives may be different - for some, it may be a lifetime of retreat, for others, a lifetime of political action. We must each decide for ourselves what it means to serve. Transformation is not just available to monks on mountaintops in Tibet, but to people in the 21st century wrestling with the challenges of our times.
Buddhism is a radically creative practice. It has undergone major innovation every time it spread to new lands. We view the dialogue between contemplative practice, neuroscience, philosophy, politics of decolonization, and environmentalism to be a frontier and a source of potentially revolutionary ideas. This is a conversation we want to introduce people to and accelerate.
In our globalized world, we are enmeshed in both local and global community, and our actions in community effect people all across the planet. We are dependent on and participate in massive, often unjust, systems. We must account for this in the way we practice and participate in the world. One of the reasons young people so rarely embark on serious meditation practice is lack of community. This is something we will change, through giving program participants community and the opportunity to form long term connections to others thinking about similar things, and to work through problems they specifically face together.
Meditation has become increasingly popular, but most never achieve the level of development that’s possible. This is why we use Buddhist language in our program - because there is a risk, if we remove it, that people will miss the real possibility for transformation. Dharma Gates is a meditation intensive program. Every participant will become used to meditating multiple hours each day and participate in two to three intensive retreats. In a broader sense, this is a way to combat a culture of shallowness, of avoiding the reality of our experience and our lives, of skimming over the surface.
Dharma Gates is an experience that can change the way people relate to themselves, each other, and the world. We want to give students the tools to become leaders needed to transform society at its core.