Online Courses

We’re excited to be launching this new part of the site, offering online courses in Buddhism, Yoga, and healing in an accessible, culturally literate, and affordable format. All courses hosted on this site are offered on a Gift Economy model, which you can read more about below. Please reach out if you have any questions.

Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation

Dive into the ocean of ideas, practices, and culture that evolved into modern yoga. Designed for serious students of yoga and meditation, this is a university-level introduction to Yoga history from an engaging scholar-practitioner.

The Heart Sūtra: Refuge, Liberation, & the Perfection of Wisdom

Hosted by our friends at The Sutra Project, this course features a new translation of the Heart Sūtra, one of the beloved and evocative texts of the Mahāyāna tradition, by Dr. Oakes and Dr. Christopher Wallis.

Pricing: the radical practice of Gift Economy

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.

Many teachers in the Insight Meditation community try to offer the teachings we’ve been gifted by the Buddhist traditions in a similar spirit: as freely as we can in a culture that doesn’t seem to value this kind of generosity. This is challenging partly because as non-monastics, our expenses are high, and institutional support minimal.

Different from some other Insight Meditation teachers, I use the term Gift Economy rather than dāna, partly to differentiate our model from that of the monastics, and also to emphasize its beauty as an economic method outside Buddhist practice and culture. Here’s a short video on the idea. And here’s some writing on its beauty for American convert Buddhist communities.

We are experimenting with a variation of Gift Economy in our offering of our first large online course: Intro to the History of Yoga. It works like this:

You can pay a set price,

We suggest a price for the course that is enough that we can invest in creating and offering more resources like this. It’s a “non-profit-level” price. You can choose that price and proceed through checkout without further effort, treating it as a standard set price. This is what you’re used to doing all the time if you live in a market economy.

OR…
You can choose your own price,

You can type in a price you choose, either lower or higher, based on what you can afford, how much you value the lineages the course is based in, or any other criteria important to you.

lower

If you enter a price that’s lower than the suggested price, you’ll see a short scholarship form.

We ask that you write a bit about yourself, and what brings you to ask for the gift of a scholarship. We especially invite POC & LGBTQ folks to use this, as well as people of any heritage Buddhist or Hindu culture, if you choose.

or higher.

If you enter a price that’s higher than the suggested price, you’ll see a short donor form.

We ask you to write a bit about yourself, and what brings you to offer this gift. We especially invite White folks and others with privilege in the current global system to use this, if you choose.

In both cases, what’s important to us is that we pay forward what we have been given from these venerable lineages and their home cultures with as much respect to their formal structures, like dāna, as possible, which means without limitation based on material wealth.

Please support us to use this beautiful, traditional, community-centered pricing model by offering the highest amount you can afford, and by giving above the suggested price if you can, which directly gifts scholarship support to those who need it.

Thank you for your generosity.

Give the gift of ongoing 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 through Patreon.

Sutta: One who dwells in the Dhamma

Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “‘One who dwells in the Dhamma, one who dwells in the Dhamma’: thus it is said, lord. To what extent is a bhikkhu one who dwells in the Dhamma?”

“Monk, there is the case where a monk studies the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions. He spends the day in Dhamma-study. He neglects seclusion. He doesn’t commit himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who is keen on study, not one who dwells in the Dhamma.

“Then there is the case where a monk takes the Dhamma as he has heard & studied it and teaches it in full detail to others. He spends the day in Dhamma-description. He neglects seclusion. He doesn’t commit himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who is keen on description, not one who dwells in the Dhamma.

“Then there is the case where a monk takes the Dhamma as he has heard & studied it and recites it in full detail. He spends the day in Dhamma-recitation. He neglects seclusion. He doesn’t commit himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who is keen on recitation, not one who dwells in the Dhamma.

“Then there is the case where a monk takes the Dhamma as he has heard & studied it and thinks about it, evaluates it, and examines it with his intellect. He spends the day in Dhamma-thinking. He neglects seclusion. He doesn’t commit himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who is keen on thinking, not one who dwells in the Dhamma.

“Then there is the case where a monk studies the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions. He doesn’t spend the day in Dhamma-study. He doesn’t neglect seclusion. He commits himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who dwells in the Dhamma.

“Now, monk, I have taught you the person who is keen on study, the one who is keen on description, the one who is keen on recitation, the one who is keen on thinking, and the one who dwells in the Dhamma. Whatever a teacher should do—seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them—that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monk. Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret. This is our message to you.”

(AN 5.73, tr. Thanissaro)