First time here?
Greetings! We wish to welcome you to an authentic, living lineage of spiritual teachings – led by Qapel (Doug Duncan) and Sensei (Catherine Pawasarat). Our roots are primarily based in the Vajrayana buddhadharma teachings, but also include Western Mystery teachings and modern therapeutic approaches to spiritual awakening and liberation.
The Namgyal Lineage
Where are these teachings coming from? Our root guru was the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche, recognised as a Karma Kagyu lineage master. Prior to being recognised and enthroned as Namgyal Rinpoche, he was first ordained by Ven. Sayadaw U Thila Wunta in Burma, where he trained for many years, and given the name Ananda Bodhi.
Qapel (Doug Duncan) & Sensei (Catherine Pawasarat)
Qapel (Achariya Doug Duncan) and Sensei (Catherine Pawasarat) are Dharma Teachers and Planet Dharma’s principle teachers. They also founded and are resident at Clear Sky Meditation Centre in BC, Canada.
What do our teachings & path look like?
We offer an ever evolving path for committed, courageous, modern seekers.
The Buddha held up a simple flower as metaphor of the profound nature of things as they are: so uncomplicated, so immediate, and so very difficult to explain. Yet, to get us to that realization, most of us need a path and disciplined training for the mind, body and spirit.
What does spiritual training look like for us today, as modern people?
Spiritual Training for Modern People
This is not a teaching for everyone. This is a particular lineage for determined students who want to unfold quickly and deeply. Whatever compassionate methods helps beings suffer less, we might use, and they might not adhere to political correctness. It makes for a fresh and real revolution in one’s being. We have laid out our teaching methodology below, via four pillars and five principles.
of Spiritual Training
Meditation is a powerful tool by which we reach bliss, clarity and then wisdom. By applying concentration to an object (such as the breath or a mantra and visualisation), we develop calm and increase bliss. Building on this, we meditate to increase insight into the true nature of phenomena and our minds.
While we value and sometimes work many types of meditation from different traditions, in our experience the Buddhist meditation system is exemplary in its detailed mapping of consciousness.
So in terms of the actual practices with give our students, 70% of our foundational practices are from the Buddhist vajrayana tradition – primarily the karma kagyu lineage. Called Ngöndro, in Tibetan, these practices purify the emotions (Vajrasattva), release the trauma in the body (Prostrations) and open the mind to compassion (Chenrezig). Many of the retreats we offer also draw from Theravadin, Mahayana and Zen Buddhist teachings.
As well, we use Western psycho-analytical therapies such as Family Mandala work and cognitive behavioural approaches. Other important methodologies include the Western Mystical meditations and tools, including Holistic Clearing, womb karma work, star group meditations, the hero’s journey, astrological and tarot archetype studies.
We encourage our committed students to do at least two weeks of solitary or focused meditation retreat work each year, a month every three years and three months retreat every five years. And, we expect that our students work diligently at the foundational practices which involve prostrations (or a variation thereof), mantra, visualisation and insight meditation.
By engaging our minds, asking better questions and exposing ourselves to different ideas and concepts, we grow. A spiritual path of learning includes discovery, exploration and study. It incorporates both formal study and apprenticeship-style modalities.
In addition to Buddhist and Western philosophy, we use psychology, science, the arts, kinesthetics, conscious business and other kinds of direct experience to develop and integrate our various interests.
We encourage our committed students to participate in our three or four main online study courses throughout the year – each is usually a full weekend or a four week program on a wide variety of topics.
Traveling on Dharma Trips with the Teachers and community is another great way to learn.
Personalised study may also be given by the Teachers to each student based on unique needs and proclivities.
As a form of ‘meditation in action’, karma yoga helps us be of service while we contact calm and concentration. By establishing attention on the activity in front of us, rather than on our personal issues and difficulties, we learn how to work with others unhindered by our own conflicting states or those of others.
In Karma Yoga, we watch the patterns that arise as we interact with others. We use the same principles that we’ve learned in meditation and apply it to our work, our relationships and our communities. When we use activity and work as objects of meditation, we’re able to see to the spacious clear sky mind state … even amidst the distractions of interpersonal conflicts, goals or obligations at work, family emergencies, stock market dips and dirty dishes.
As you may have gathered from your own experience, it’s far more challenging to practice with others and while being active, than by oneself on a meditation cushion. This is because interactions bring as many sets of potentially conflicting emotions and self-limiting views as there are people involved. Since they all arise, each must be identified and worked through.
However, the good news is that the path of Karma Yoga empowers people to move past their limiting views together and simultaneously. This means we become better at communicating with each other, with our communities, and ultimately become more effective as positive forces in the world. This is something to celebrate!
Long term students are encouraged to participate in karma yoga with their local dharma communities, the Teachers, or their retreat center. And, to see all their work, livelihood, career, family and other activities as a form of ‘meditation in action.
The ‘shadow’ is the aspects of our psyches that we have pushed into the dark and ignored. How we act and feel about power, money and sex are three examples. In essence ‘shadow work’ addresses the lower three chakras, providing a solid foundation on top of which the higher chakras can flower.
Working with Money, Sex and Power
Three areas that tend to get pushed into the shadow are money (survival), sex (identity) and power (control over our lives). These can be very strong unconscious forces at work in our lives that influence our personalities.
Money, sex, and power are juicy areas of exploration for all of us, fraught as they can be with conditioned emotional baggage and ego insecurities, and often with hidden unconscious views.
It’s incumbent upon all of us who seek transformational change, greater awareness, and spiritual awakening to investigate these foundational realms of human experience with valor, intellectual rigor, and emotional integrity.
Read more about how we work with this: Important Advisory on Money, Sex and Power.
Spiritual Training for Modern People
We’ve talked about the ‘what’ of the spiritual path in the four pillars. But how do you do the work with Teachers and community? What attitude should one take? How do you bring your practice into every moment of every day? We’ve summed this up with five principles.
Here are our five principles for the ‘how’ of spiritual practice:
- Meditating on the fly, bringing your awareness everywhere.
- You learn, over time how to communicate more skillfully while also acknowledging and humbling yourself to the fact that you might not have as much experience as others on the path – so
- Honouring the wisdom of others with more experience, as we would if we were studying anything professionally.
- You have to want to stretch your comfort zone, to get uncomfortable, and to do that with others, and
- Really embracing community and not running away when it starts to heat up. That’s where breakthrough and liberation lie.
Evolving Group Guru
We recognize that we are at a time of great transition, moving from the piscean age’s traditional model of ‘One Guru’ (one Pope etc) to the more collective ‘Group Guru’ of the Aquarian age.
While valuing the important relationship between Teacher and Student in liberation, we recognize that as the world is ever more complex, and it will be communities in the future that carry human society’s wisdom potential forward.
Qapel and Catherine Sensei are primary Teachers to many students, and are supported by their senior students who also act as teachers in the community.
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.
I greatly enjoyed the [online] series – especially the class on “the shadow”. If you need to shine a light on your “shadow”, or better yet a spotlight, Dharma teachers Qapel and Sensei will help you charge up the currents of mindfulness. Check them out. They are definitely masters on working with “the shadow!”
The benefits of this deep [meditation] work are large shifts in my sense of self and ego. I completed 100,000 mantras of both mantras to really seal those vibrations. I feel tuned to the teachers once again and am vibrating differentlyin a more focused way
These are ancient teachings that I feel are important to understand if someone is serious about meditation. I appreciate Qapel and Sensei’s unrelenting perseverance to teach about the roots and traditions of these life changing practices. They explore the rich history with us and also deliver the material in a very understandable and relevant way.
Qapel and Sensei have a complementary teaching style that empowers me to take on life’s numerous challenges. Thanks to their guidance, I understand the role of fiery masculine energy and how to integrate it with softer, more receptive, earthy feminine energy. They are Yin and Yang in human form. I could not ask for a more complete or effective spiritual teaching.
Qapel & Sensei’s teachings are a rallying cry for all those who want no-holds-barred, honest guidance on the path of awakening. I’m thoroughly inspired by the spiritual potential we all have, and sobered by the challenges we face as a species and global consciousness. The path they lay out makes it clear that the journey is worth taking.
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.
My incredible Teachers, thank you for your unwavering compassion, patience and wisdom. And thank you for the opportunity to learn from you and join you on Dharma trips. I love you both from the platform, to the edge of the universe. And will show that love by doing the work! For the benefit of all beings.
Doing karma yoga, I watch how everyone gains new insights. These many “a-ha moments” makes it clear to me that this type of active dharma training is a path that brings the modern spiritual explorer alive and moves them forward.