Programs for Experienced Students - 3

We continue the series on programs for experienced students with this unique offering from Against the Stream:

Dharma Maps – Explorations of the Path to Enlightenment

By George Haas, teacher at Against the Stream

Dharma Maps is a course I teach at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in Los Angeles for intermediate and advanced practitioners who wish to explore in a structured way the meditative experiences that lead to enlightenment. Rather than abstractly defining "intermediate and advanced," I allow participants to self-select for the class by both their interest and their ability to participate in two 30-minute sits during the 2-hour period.

 What is enlightenment?  Bodhi, in both Pāli and Sanskrit, is the word most often translated into English as “enlightenment.”  A better translation might be “to awake, become aware, notice, know, to understand.”  What does it mean to be awake?  Or perhaps, more importantly, how do I wake up, become enlightened?  This is the subject of the class.

What are Dharma maps?  These are descriptions of the meditation path to enlightenment— strategies really, step-by-step guides for organizing your insight practice toward the (non) goal of enlightenment.  There many such maps;the trick is to find one that works for you because there is no universal approach. Iuse several Dharma maps in class which resonate with my own practice: The Seven Factors of Enlightenment, The Sixteen Stages of Insight, The Four Stages of Enlightenment, and the Ten Fetters; and several commentaries on the Sixteen Stages: The Progress of Insight by Mahasi Sayadaw, Mastering the Core Practices of the Buddha by Daniel Ingram, and The Pros and Cons of Dharma Maps by Shinzen Young. 

As an example, the Sixteen Stages are explored individually using specific techniques designed to illustrate the nature of the particular insight described in each stage.  Practitioners explore the insights through direct experience at their skill level, also planting the seeds for further exploration as their skill deepens. 

Each class begins with a 30-minute sit exploring the stage or stages designated for that class so any discussion that follows is based on direct experience.  Then there is a one-hour explanation of the stage/s, followed by a second 30-minute sit.  Practitioners are expected to repeat the 30-minute sits at least three times during the week.  Over eight weeks, all of the Sixteen Stages of Insight are covered.

The class is supported by Morning Meditation, a live, conference-call-based guided meditation, six mornings a week, 7:30 to 7:55am PST.  There is a period for questions before and after the meditation, so if something pressing comes up between classes, students have access to their teacher.  The meditations are recorded and available as podcasts through iTunes and Dropbox, so they can be listened to at any time during the day.  I also provide my telephone and email contact information.  The classes are recorded and offered online for people who do not live in Los Angeles.  The next class will be in the summer of 2013.  For more information: