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Zen Sutras in the 21st Century
June 6 - July 3
Zen Sutras in the 21st CenturyOnline Course| June 6 - July 3, 2022
Early Chan (Zen) Buddhism was a Chinese interpretation of the Theravadin Sutras from a millenia prior. This course shares the highlights from key Zen Sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, and how we might now apply the Zen Sutras in the 21st century, 2500 years after the time of the historical Buddha.
Zen Sutras – An Online Course
Zen – we love the show – Zen practice and Zen teaching grabs everyone’s attention. But what is often not recognised is that the underpinning of Zen are the Theravadin sutras taught by the Buddha 2500 years ago. Those ancient sutras were reinterpreted for Chinese culture a millenia later and this was the birth of Chan Buddhism, later Zen Buddhism in Japan.
So what is the new interpretation of the Zen sutras today? How do these 500 BC teachings relate to 21st century life?
In this four week online course, Qapel and Sensei will share the essence of Zen wisdom from a handpicked selection of sutras highly important to the Zen or Chan traditions. These sutras include:
- Avataṃsaka Sūtra – Flower Garland or Hua Yan Sutra
- Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
- Vimalakīrti Sūtra
- Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra – Diamond Sutra
- Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya – Heart Sutra
- Śūraṅgama Sūtra
- The Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch – Liùzǔ Tánjīng
Enlighten Up! Zen Sutras
Join the monthly Enlighten Up! on May 15 2022. It will feature a talk by Qapel on the Zen Sutras as a taster for this comprehensive course.
How Zen Masters Teach
Video: Four Steps to Liberation
What is the essence of Zen Teaching?
Qapel (Doug Duncan) explains the four-step process that a Zen master employs spontaneously with their students to help them break free of conditioned thinking.
JUNE 6-27, 2022
Zen Course Class Dates, 7:30pm MST:
- Monday June 6th
- Monday June 13th
- Monday June 20th
- Monday June 27th
To deepen and integrate your experience, we are also offering three optional weekly Master Classes (Sundays June 12, 19, 26) during the course and an at-home Flash Retreat July 1-3.
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!”
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. June 12
- Sun. June 19
- Sun. June 26
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.
July 1-3, 2022
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, July 3.
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 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 but 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.
Conversely, 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, it can be surprising the costs of setting up a good infrastructure to support effective teaching and connection online.
*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!
This retreat was right on the mark – a perfect blend of focused inner work along with space for reflection in a trusting and comfortable setting. The teachers were wonderful, insightful, humorous, and extremely attentive to our individual needs for understanding. This unique experience cultivated a bond within the group and fostered an energy that amplified each lesson.
It has been sheer joy to be a participant in the “Foundations of Buddhist Philosophy” online classes. Qapel and Sensei made the practice come alive for me in a way that was accessible and pertinent to my everyday life. And of course, I always enjoy their unfailing good humour which puts a lighter touch on what can sometimes be a very dry subject.
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. It is as if new pathways in the brain open up – directly from the cosmos via Qapel and Sensei.
World class teachings from world class people! Qapel and Sensei are the real deal and they ultimately want one thing for you – to guide you toward awakening with totality and intelligence. Planet Dharma’s steadfast, professional commitment to meet the needs of seekers today is impressive. What a precious gift to have access to these wisdom teachings and practices from anywhere in the world.
Studying the hero’s journey with master Dharma teachers Qapel and Sensei, I discovered my own journey of transformation and the unknown. While walking on this path with the quest to awaken in this lifetime, I learned to bring the gift of wisdom and service to others. This retreat has impacted my artistic statements and performances since. It has allowed me to bring other artists and collaborators on this journey. It is a brilliant course both for artists and those who want to experience life as art.
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