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Exploring Buddhist Practice as Opening to Otherness
Dates: Jun 02, 2017 - Jun 07, 2017
Days: Fri - Wed (5 Nights)

Instructor(s): William Edelglass, Brian Lesage

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Buddhist practice can be described as the relinquishing of grasping of self through an opening to what is other.  This openness is found in many Buddhist practices and traditions, from attention to the singularity of each breath, to the abandonment of strongly held views, to the welcoming hospitality to other sentient beings.  We see this in early Pāli texts on mindfulness, in the Madhyamaka critiques of metaphysical claims, in the ethical practices of the bodhisattva, in meditations on exchanging self and other, and in the Pure Land practice of letting the ego fall away and thereby making space for an 'other power.'  As Sāntideva points out, learning to appreciate the other's perspective–attending to the needs, suffering, and desires of others–is at the heart of cultivating wisdom and compassion.  Drawing on theories and practices from a variety of Buddhist traditions, we will explore opening to what is other as a spiritual practice.  We will also address some of the ways we are called today to cultivate openness to difference when we recognize the intertwining of spiritual practice, ethics, and justice.

  • William Edelglass is Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Marlboro College in Vermont. He has published widely in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, environmental philosophy, and 20th-century European philosophy. He has taught in a variety of settings, including a federal prison in New York, a Tibetan refugee settlement in Nepal, and for many years as a wilderness guide at Outward Bound. Previously, William was at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, India, where he taught Western philosophy to Tibetan monks.

  • Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000.  He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide. Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma.