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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
92 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY organizations of our lineage: Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and Spirit Rock. We were able to gain institutional support from Spirit Rock, but that was not the case with the IMS, which chose a dif- ferent design and path, making this outcome bittersweet. In August 2017, IMS launched its own four-year teacher training program with 75 percent of its trainees identifying as people of color. In our first retreat, we laid the groundwork for the four years we will be together in training. We began with developing storytelling as a spiritual teaching skill. Participants shared their personal jour- neys not only as a means to sharpen that skill, but also to build and deepen connections with each other. This was followed by presentations from scholars and teachers on topics such as the history of the dharma, a history of liberation in the Spirit Rock practice lineage, and personal histories of Spirit Rock’s founders. One session, “A History of Freedom,” included inspirational personal accounts of the march on Selma during the struggle for civil rights, as well as a Tibetan Buddhist scholar’s per- sonal journey—woven into the story of Naropa and Milarepa—of growing up black in the American South. Finally, a panel discussion featured diverse teachers reflecting on how to teach with inspiration, faith, and aspiration. This is not watered-down dharma training shaped for social activ- ists, nor is it “dharma-lite” intended for unfamiliar communities. Rather, it is designed to train teachers, in a broad and profound way, in consistent and ongoing practice as well as the study of Buddhist philosophy and thought from a scholarly and historical perspective in a way that illuminates and integrates that perspective into practice in this very life and cultural context. It is rigorous training that is robust and deeply transforming. Teachers from the opening retreat (L–R): Jan Willis, Larry Yang, Gina Sharpe, Lila Kate Wheeler, and Jack Kornfield TWOIRISESDIANEYASKI