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The Power of Sangha & Group Guru

November 10 - December 1

The Power of Sangha & Group Guru

Online Course | Four Weeks
November 10 – December 1, 2024

Sangha are the people working alongside you to wake up. Group Guru is the network of the Awakened Mind showing up in teams and conscious community. We can—and must—use each other to pull ourselves out of the mires of suffering. In this modern approach to sangha and group guru, we will look at the interplay between the collective, the individual and liberation.


The Power of Sangha & Group Guru

The Buddha’s beloved student Ananda asked, it seems good friends are perhaps half of the path? And the Buddha responded, No, Ananda. Good friends are the whole path.

Is conscious community a preference, or a necessity? How do we develop powerful spiritual communities that bring us forward in a meaningful way? In this modern course we will explore just this, looking at the power of sangha and group guru.

There is interplay between the collective and the individual when it comes to liberation. Let’s explore it here, together.

We each get trapped in our own bias. Our lineage Teacher the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche said it is hard for Westerners to awaken because the self, the great individual, is such an important part of the game. In the West, we tend to avoid community, avoid surrendering to collective needs, or mistrust that we will be subsumed by ignorant ‘group think’.

And yet, sangha is something that nature knows intimately. Community is at the root of the great flourishings of humanity. Spiritual communities in the East have worked in community in the monastery setting; community is a hallmark of all time-tested spiritual tradition and practice. Today’s question is, how do we also honor the role and uniqueness of the individual, within a collective approach to awakening and healing?

12 Manjushri meditation retreat
Bardo 2024
CS Retreat Shrine Room Meditation Sangha

Power of Sangha


Do you want to be part of thriving, conscious community that values people above profit? Does living and working with people who also value spiritual growth and awakening sound appealing? We think it’s wonderful, and beyond that, what humanity is destined for.

And, it’s not easy. We need seriously effective tools to help integrate our spiritual ideals with the real world. Everyday life—including people, and their personalities—are always human. They require grit.

 Course Learning Goals

  • For what reason was Sangha (Spiritual Community) highlighted as one of the Triple Gems alongside the Buddha (Teachers of Awakening) and Dharma (The Teachings and Practices of Liberation)?
  • What are our common challenges and fears around collective and community today?  
  • What are ways we can better contribute, grow and develop effective spiritual communities that we actually want to be a meaningful part of?

Course Schedule

November 10 – December 1, 2024

Class Times (Mountain Time)

  1. Sunday November 10 – 9:30-11am
  2. Sunday November 17 – 9:30-11am
  3. Sunday November 24 – 9:30-11am
  4. Flash Retreat*: Saturday & Sunday Nov 30-Dec 1 – 9:30am and 2:30pm

The formal and participatory teachings for this course will occur on Sundays with a Saturday-Sunday flash retreat on the fourth weekend.  Class times are estimates and may change slightly.

We encourage you to connect with sangha outside of class times to discuss and deepen your learning of the material.

     * Flash Retreat Weekend: Nov 30-Dec 1

To deepen and integrate your experience, the final (fourth) weekend during the course will also be a Flash Retreat (Nov 30-Dec 1). This can be done at home, or with us at Clear Sky Meditation Centre, in Eastern British Columbia. We highly recommend clearing your schedule over the weekend to focus on the retreat.  Group sessions will be held at 9:30am and 2:30pm on Saturday and Sunday, with sessions approximately 60-90 mins in duration.

    Meet the Teachers

    Catherine Pawasarat Sensei
    Catherine Pawasarat Sensei
    Qapel Doug Duncan
    Qapel Doug Duncan

    Qapel and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada.

    Qapel (Achariya Doug Duncan) received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Qapel embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state.

    Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.

    Course Details

    Time and Location

    Each of the four weekly classes in this online course will be streamed live at 9:30-11am MST.  We ask participants to attend live whenever possible. The recording of each class will be available for one week after each class. We encourage you to connect with sangha outside of class times to discuss and deepen your learning of the material.

    The course culminates with a Flash Retreat on February 2-4, 2024, with formal workshop times held at 9:30-10:30am and 2:30-3:30pm Mountain Time on Saturday and Sunday.

    What Does the Course Cost?

    This course is offered based on the unique combination of:

    1) dāna, and
    2) a $80-120 USD administrative fee:

    • Register by October 13 2024: $80
    • Register by October 27 2024: $100
    • Register less than two weeks prior: $120

    Click on the tabs below to learn more:

    You may have come across this elsewhere in the form of “pay from the heart.” Dāna is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity.” With dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. It’s our joy to offer this course, and we trust you’ll match our time, energy, and passion by giving an amount of money that feels good and healthy to both you and us.

    The dharma has been built on generosity. No one is excluded for lack of funds. However, it is also extremely beneficial to give as much as you are able.

    Typically people give in a range of $120-$500 USD for a course.

    As we’re committed to ensuring everyone has access to the Dharma, please feel comfortable to give less if you are not financially secure. Another form of giving dāna is to offer service, and if you are interested in providing support in a non-financial way, we invite you to contact us.

    If you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to the Triple Gem. Contributions like these make the difference in supporting our teachers, teachings, and center.

    Learn more about the practice of dāna here.

    In a traditional model of in-person teachings, a retreat center or urban meditation center invites teachers to visit. In these cases the centers have infrastructure and organization costs to cover, which might be covered by an admin fee. For the teaching itself, dāna to the teachers is offered in a bowl. This honors both the sustainability of the teachers, and of the supporting center.

    We’ve tried to recreate this approach online. The teachers’ time and the teaching themselves are offered on the basis of dāna, separate to the admin fee. With our dāna offering we are making a direct gift of generosity to the teachers to support their teachings and livelihood.

    The admin fee* goes to support the infrastructure and organization necessary to support them to teach. As anyone with an online business will know, the costs of setting up good infrastructure to support effective teaching and connection online can be surprising.

    Our admin fee changes based on the date of registration.

    Register four + weeks prior: $80
    Register two to four weeks prior: $100
    Register less than two weeks prior: $120

    *We also do not wish to exclude anyone from the Teachings, so if you are not currently in a financial position to afford the admin fee, please contact the course Registrar via [email protected] so we can support you to attend.


    Below are a few of the work and benefits that your admin fee payment is supporting:

    • High speed internet (to allow interviews and classes on-line)
    • Online class systems (Zoom)
    • Registration / admin systems (Eventbrite, Basecamp)
    • Communication systems to keep everyone informed, share connection details, teachings and other resources (Mailchimp)
    • Online storage (for example, Dropbox, to allow us to let students watch recordings, and to store and share selected teachings in other forms such as podcasts and video later, and Amazon cloud)
    • Quality sound, video and editing equipment (both for live teachings and to provide good enough quality for later sharing as podcasts and video). We are regularly updating our equipment to improve your user experience.
    • Online calendar booking system to allow students to book interviews
    • Website hosting and maintenance for sharing upcoming courses, teachings, blogs and other resources.

    We welcome any questions. May all our efforts be sustainable, abundant and for the benefit of all beings!


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    Flash Retreat in community: students at Clear Sky Centre and online, learning together.

    Bat Fung

    This kind of Dharma is much needed, practical and insightful. It is something we need in our modern society where everyone is trying to get ahead of others. Learning with Qapel and Sensei helps me see clearly, lead genuinely and be more willing to step into the unknown, to serve others and to learn.

    Bat Fung
    Jonathan Clifford

    Qapel and Sensei teach in a light but profound way – taking us on a brilliant journey of understanding with guile and humour.
    Male and female perspectives help balance with differing approaches. Explaining a complex but genius system that holds all life understanding from religion, science, psychotherapy and wisdom traditions is not easy. I think Ken Wilber would have enjoyed it. 

    Jonathan Clifford
    Shiatsu, Qigong & Meditation Teacher