Zen Online Course
October 25 - November 21
Zen – An Online Course
Spiritual awakening consists of the embodied realization that the ego—our sense of a personal self—is overlaid on top of our direct experience of things as they are. And as such distorts our perception of reality. In fact, with awakening we realize that the ego isn’t necessary for happiness and can often obstruct it.
It sounds so simple. And teachings about it fill thousands of volumes of texts.
But the Buddha himself tried to share with his students this very simple, direct path that goes from ego struggle to its release, awakening.
How did the Buddha describe it? He merely held up a lotus flower, in silence.
While most of the attending students waited patiently for the Buddha to begin teaching, the arahat Mahākāśyapa smiled. He was the only one who understood that the flower was the teaching. As a result of his direct perception, he’s considered the first patriarch of Zen.
The [Online] course went beyond my expectations, I feel I learned a lot of new things or new ways of seeing things. The teachers have an incredible way of presenting the themes in a way that makes it easy to understand. They also make the teachings fun and suggest exercises so that you can apply them in your life.
I was expecting to get pearls of wisdom and I always get far far more. The teachings always speak directly to me. It is uncanny. It is like hearing a language that I spoke in some other life-form and suddenly it rings a bell. And bell after bell. Like a universal language that we all used to speak but have forgotten, and now as if a new pathway in the brain has opened up and the signals coming in are making sense! Directly from the cosmos via Doug and Catherine Sensei.
The teachers of Planet Dharma [Online course] aim to provide opportunities to learn from age old teachings while including modern information as they are examples of continuing to learn about the fascinating, yet troubled world we live in. They help one to develop ideas how to help out society, live in society and contribute to themselves and others.
Starts October 25, 2021
*We also highly recommend you consider participating in the full Zen Meditation Retreat in December 2021 at Clear Sky Center.
Zen Course Class Dates, 7:30pm MST:
- Monday October 25th
- Monday November 1st
- Monday November 8th
- Monday November 15th
Studying Zen, Experiencing Zen
The Buddha used a simple flower as a teaching of the profound nature of things as they are: so uncomplicated, so immediate, and so very difficult to explain.
So, you might ask, why bother explaining? Why study this? When instead we could just realize it ourselves, like Mahākāśyapa?
We explain because our conventional minds are clouded by ego clinging. This often manifests as conflicting emotions and prejudicial views, both considered forms of ignorance or confusion about reality.
For centuries Zen masters having been holding up flowers and students have been caught in this confusion, asking questions like, “What’s that flower got to do with me? Or awakening?”
Thus, the famous saying about awakening: “With words it cannot be described, without words it cannot be expressed.”
You’ve probably noted that holding up a flower doesn’t use words.
We can see how Zen-style spiritual realization enters the land of paradoxes. Rinzai Zen has made these famous with their ko-an mind-bending teachings. Have you noticed that the ego doesn’t like paradoxes?
And spiritual awakening is the ultimate paradox, described this way:
“You can see it,
But it is not there!”
We invite you to join us for these four online classes on Zen: Monday nights at 19:30 MT, Oct 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, followed by a weekend-long flash retreat on Sat and Sun, Nov 20 and 21.
Study and Meditation Electives
There are weekly Master Classes (akin to online Q&A Office Hours) during this online course to support your deepening learning and practice, on the following dates at 3pm MST:
- Sun. October 31
- Sun. November 7
- Sun. November 14
You can elect to attend all three or individual dates.
Registration & Dana links for Master Classes will be accessible to you when you register for the course.
November 20-21, 2021
Elect to deepen your practice via a Flash Retreat during the last weekend of this course. The retreat provides practitioners a valuable opportunity to integrate and seal the learnings from the online course, in a format well suited for our contemporary lives.
The retreat will include instructions, online check ins, and a Master Class on Sunday, November 21st.
We encourage you to attend this weekend retreat at Clear Sky Centre, or together with your local sangha, or if those not available to you, in your home.
Registration and Dana links for the Flash Retreat will be accessible to you when you register for the course.
Sangha power – consider organizing or joining regional in-person or online sangha groups to support one another during the online courses and Flash Retreats.
Meet the Teachers
Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada.
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, Doug 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.
Time and Location
Each of the four weekly classes in this online course will be video streamed live at 7:30pm MST. The recording will be available for one week after each class.
What Does the Course Cost?
This course is offered based on the unique combination of 1) dāna and 2) a $100 USD administrative fee. Click on the tabs below to learn more:
You may have come across this is 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 always focused on generosity so no-one is excluded for lack of funds but it is also extremely beneficial to give as much as you are able
Typically people give in a range of $120-$500 USD. And, we’re committed to no-one being excluded to access to the Dharma, so feel comfortable to give less, and conversely, if you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to the Triple Gem.
Also you may not have money but may have time - so invite you to contact us to offer service; or if you are not able to offer service but have lots of money, we invite you to offer more financially.
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, it can be surprising the costs of setting up a good infrastructure to support effective teaching and connection online.
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.
May all our efforts be sustainable, abundant and for the benefit of all beings!
We welcome any questions. Please feel free to contact [email protected]
It has been sheer joy to be a participant in the Foundations of Buddhist Philosophy streamed classes. They made the practice come alive for me and accessible and pertinent to my every-day life. And of course, I always enjoy Doug and Catherine’s unfailing good humour which put a lighter touch on what can sometimes be a very dry subject.
Fabulous mindfulness teachers, presenting a variety of accessible tools for unfolding, in a mutual, community inspired way. It’s great that classes can be watched in person, virtually, or within a week depending on one’s schedule. Increase the awareness, compassion, wisdom, strength, and joy in your life!
[The online classes] are a fantastic tool for me to not get completely lost in Samsara throughout the year, especially because I don’t live in Canada and cannot be with the teachers so often. I still felt very connected and supported by the Lamas and Sangha. As a result I became much more aware of my state of mind than I would ordinarily.
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