Ideas from Five Days of Dharma Teaching

I attended the International Western Dharma Teachers Gathering in late October, which consisted of five full days of plenary sessions and workshops. It was wonderful, intense and exhausting: I didn’t want to miss any of it.  People from all over the world and from a variety of traditions participated online.

The plenary sessions or workshops I attended focused on:  our own practice, the climate crisis, the scandals in sanghas when boundary violations occur such as sexual trauma and racism. 

There were a wide variety of teachers some of whom were familiar to me such as Bikkhu Bodhi, Sharon Salzberg, Ven. Pannavati, Martine Batchelor, and others.  But there were many who were new to me and provided new insights that enlivened my life and my practice.  Such a rich gathering.

I want to share some of the ideas that I culled from those 5 days with you.  

  • Take a pause before speaking, relax, attune to yourself and others and then speak your truth.  This is the first layer.  The 2nd is receptive listening—What is in the way for you to listen deeply?  What are your strengths as a listener?  The 3rd layer is communicating in groups.  That’s always the hardest. 
  • Authority must ALWAYS be questioned.
  • Anti-vaccers are full human beings.  They are hurting too. This also applies to anyone who have very different opinions or views from you.
  • Resistance is a natural part of practice and a form of protection.  Be aware when it arises in you.  It’s a fruitful area for gentle exploration.
  • Notice the progress/growth you make in your practice rather than focusing on ‘how you’re doing in any particular sitting’.
  • Hold restlessness and agitation with compassion for the human experience.
  • Look at things impersonally.  See patterns
  • All institutions lag behind consciousness.
  • Suffering and joy can co-exist.

Any one of these bullet points could lead to a fruitful discussion with spiritual friends and I encourage you to do so.  I believe we grow in our practice and our lives by participating in conversations about our experience in meditation. So I urge you to engage in conversation with others about any of these points that interest you.

The Buddha’s own teachings were often conveyed in groups and being online is our 21st century equivalent of such groups.  It’s reasonable to assume that his disciples meditated with what he taught and talked about it among themselves.  He said to Ananda that the path is 100% with spiritual friends so take advantage of talking with other meditators.  Listen to their views and explore your own.

As you can see, there is a lot here and I’ve only shared the first couple of days. I’ll share more in coming blogs.  Feel free to leave your thoughts too.

Photo by he zhu on Unsplash

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About Erica Dutton

Erica Dutton is an experienced teacher and practitioner of Reflective Meditation. She has dedicated herself to sharing this practice so others can succeed in meditation, see their experience as important and valuable, and realize the benefits.


  1. The points you noted, and reported, are all excellent and very useful. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed them. It was quite a ‘gathering’. I learned a lot but I was exhausted at the end. I’m hoping to start a discussion among my spiritual friends. I think I’ll get even more from it then.

  3. Each of the ideas that you listed are intriguing and worthy of more in-depth discussion, which you no doubt had during your gathering. I would have liked to ease drop on many of these sessions. I look forward to your future posts on these and other topics that arose during the gathering.

  4. Pingback: 2021 International Western Dharma Teachers Gathering: Notes from Still Mountain Teachers – Still Mountain

  5. Pingback: The Climate Crisis in Buddhism – Erica Dutton

  6. Pingback: 2021 International Western Dharma Teachers Gathering: Notes from Still Mountain Teachers – Still Mountain

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