Insight Meditation Satsang

Coronavirus Update: March 2020

Satsang is now online for the immediate future, on the Zoom platform so that we can interact. Please join us if you would be supported by spiritual community in this moment. The most up-to-date info on events, and all links, can be found in the Facebook Group: In It To End It. Join us in this “virtual saṅgha” for study, discussion, and spiritual community.

insight meditation satsang
Tuesdays 7:15-9pm

Click here to join: https://soundstrue.zoom.us/j/712901357

All are welcome for all or part of this schedule:

7:15 — Refuge & Precepts Pūjā (chanting in Pāli and English)
7:30 — Meditation with instructions, ending with mantra chanting
8ish — tea break
8:15 — talk/study & discussion

We hope to return to Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley very soon!

About the group

Insight Meditation is a translation of the Pāli word vipassanā, literally “Clear Seeing.” As a style of meditation, it was created by American and European students of Thai Forest and Burmese Theravāda Buddhist teachers in the 1970s, and has woven valuable aspects of Western psychology and healing work into those beautiful, ancient streams of practice. I was invited to teach by my mentor, Jack Kornfield, in 2010, and attempt to offer Buddhist teachings in a way that is accessible and integrated with the social reality of 21st century life while remaining faithful to the renunciate core of the Theravāda system.

The word Satsang emphasizes the community and inquiry aspect of the group, and speaks to our intention to continue the ancient tradition in both the Hindu and Buddhist streams of South Asian spiritual practice of sincere seekers gathering to explore together the mysteries of this life. The Tuesday group is a warm, kind community of sincere seekers, and beginners and newcomers are always welcome.

We begin with a short sequence of Pāli Buddhist chants I call “Refuge and Precepts Pūja”. More info on the pūja here. Then we sit for 30 minutes, with short guided instructions and then silence. We end the sitting with a short chant, and take a short break to stretch legs, say hi to each other, and get tea. In the second half, I give a talk and invite discussion on an aspect of practice, weaving between Theravāda Buddhist perspectives on formal practice and contemporary issues of psychology, relationships, and social justice.

Satsang is offered in the Gift Economy model, and all are welcome. Scroll down for more on the Gift Economy model, and for recordings of recent talks.

Blessings in your practice & see you soon.

Building a community dedicated to individual & collective liberation

Satsang is Sanskrit for “community of truth” and describes gatherings of seekers who meet to open their hearts and minds together through sharing wisdom and inquiry. My primary influences are the Thai Forest and Burmese satipaṭṭhāna traditions, but I bring in perspectives from Zen, Mahāyāna Buddhism, Hindu and Buddhist tantras, and Haṭha Yoga as counterpoint. Teachings also are substantially influenced by trauma resolution practice, which has shown itself as profoundly valuable for meditators and yogis, and the urgent work of social justice and anti-oppression awareness.

Beginners to meditation and contemplative practice are warmly welcome, especially yoga āsana practitioners curious about “the other 7 limbs” of Yoga, and anyone interested in how the paths of Buddhism and Yoga weave together with the inquiry into personal and communal trauma and oppression that is the heart of social justice and resilience work.

My intention is for this to be a space of beloved community, radical inquiry, and deep nourishment as we cultivate individual and communal awakening, especially through the extreme challenges of climate change and the many social and cultural ruptures we tend in our communities. We need community, and safe spaces for spiritual practice, now more than ever if we are to find strength and wisdom to act in service of communal well-being.

May our practice be of benefit to all.

Gift Economy & the practice of dāna

A Gift Economy is a culture or community that sees the movement of resources between people as a means to deepen connection, not as competition or commerce.

The term is borrowed from analyses of some pre-industrial societies, and we use it to describe a variation of the ancient Buddhist practice of giving (dāna) material resources to monastics, which is the single most important factor in the existence of a strong community that can preserve and transmit the teachings. Monastics give their lives to practice and pastoral care, and the laity support them the way you might support your family: as a gesture of love and connection, not as a market exchange.

Your generosity allows me to offer practice events in this way, open to all, and supportive of an inclusive practice community. It also supports the studio to continue to offer donation classes and to value this model for spiritual practice as an important counterpart to the standard business model. 

If you are new to the Gift Economy model for a class or event, you might reflect on how much you generally are charged for similar classes or events, and how Satsang is similar or different from those, as well as whether the donation model itself affects your feelings around offering money to a teacher or space. Gift Economy is a practice, and can be deeply transformative if we engage with it sincerely.

You can read more about the beautiful, traditional, community-centered pricing model called Gift Economy, here

Give the gift of support

If you find the resources on this site of service in your own practice and study, and you are inspired to support Dr. Oakes as an independent teacher and scholar, please consider donating.

Most recent talks

Each week I make recordings of the meditation and dharma talks from Tuesday Satsang. The most recent topics are below, and you can find the full archive here

Ancestral Trauma & the Insight into Previous Births

The Buddha’s insights into the nature of identity and its relationship with pain and distress are expressed in three important concepts: Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda), wandering (saṃsāra), and selflessness or insubstantiality...

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