The Buddhist Geeks approach begins with the classical model of historical Buddhism–the 3 Trainings of Meditation, Wisdom, & Ethics. In a break from earlier tradition, we have rearranged the order of these 3 trainings, starting with Meditation, instead of beginning with Ethics. This change acknowledges that a vast majority of people today enter into a Buddhist-based orientation, through the doorway of Meditation, and more specifically Mindfulness Meditation. This change is about skillful means–i.e. meeting people where they are.
In the Buddhist Geeks approach it’s the discipline of meditation practice, and the powerful insights leading to deep existential wisdom, that make possible a true transformation in our ethical behavior. Without this discipline and transformation we would simply be pretending to be different–acting like good little Buddhists. What we’re aiming for in the Buddhist Geeks approach to training IS a radical transformation of self & culture in the world.
Within the larger training of Meditation, we’ve developed a modular practice model called the Six Ways to Meditate. These Six Ways were reverse-engineered from the Buddhist meditative traditions and from secular mindfulness techniques, and they include:
While each of the Six Ways–represented in the circles below–is a distinct approach to meditation, they contain many different techniques, or instructions, for practicing meditation. Each of the ways has a unique aim, and can thus be said to be distinct, yet they are all interconnected, and are all Meditation.
After we unbundled the Six Ways from the complexity of the Buddhist tradition, we realized that they can be consciously recombined. Each line in the graph above represents one of the 15 Meditative Dyads that emerge out of the direct connections between the Six Ways. (Ex: “Embodied Awareness”, “Mindful Inquiry”, “Heartful Concentration”). These new combinations, or meditative dyads, allow for a more nuanced exploration of the different flavors of meditation practice.
One of the central aspects of the Buddhist Geeks approach to Meditation is that we encourage practitioners to find their way through this complexity. We never tell people what they should be practicing, or draw out one particular path that everyone must follow. Rather, we offer many training opportunities in these different ways, and encourage people to experiment, and find out what works. We suggest to people that they play to your strengths and relate to your weaknesses, and that they do this DIY (“do it yourself”) experimentation, not in isolation, but within a larger community of experimentation. At Buddhist Geeks we engage in independent practice within an interdependent community of learning.
Lastly, when you engage in a Buddhist Geeks Training, a Buddhist Geeks Retreat, when you do private mentoring with a Buddhist Geeks Teacher, or engage in practice within our Buddhist Geeks Sangha, you will find that there are 3 Forms of Meditation that we practice together, including:
Silent Meditation – The classic form of practicing together in silence. In silent meditation practice, everyone is encouraged to practice however they see fit.
Guided Meditation – Another classical form, in which a teacher offers guidance based on their own depths of experience. In guided meditation, everyone is invited to follow the instructions, or if they don’t find them helpful, to let go of them and direct their own practice.
Social Meditation – In this newer form of interpersonal practice–which we’re helping to pioneer–a facilitator presents instructions, and the group engages in out-loud, peer-2-peer practice. In social meditation, you are always welcome to participate out-loud, with others, or as a silent witness to the process.
Within Buddhist Geeks, we practice the Six Ways to Meditate, the 15 Meditative Dyads, and all of the other possible combinations of meditation that our creativity can muster. We maintain our individual agency, while stressing the importance of interpersonal practice. We practice together Silently, with Guidance from experienced Teachers, and out-loud, with practices that are Facilitated by competent peers.
When training in Wisdom, we recognize that how we practice is as, or more, important than what we practice. We recognize that there are different modes we can practice in, including not only Formal Practice (on the cushion), but also Life Practice (which happens off the cushion), and Spontaneous Practice (wherever & whenever it occurs).
We also recognize that while engaging in practice, one must end up Practicing with Polarity. This involves engaging with common paradoxes that invite us into a deeper understanding of the fundamental nature of human consciousness, such as the polarities of:
Practice & Life
Movement & Stillness
Emptiness & Form
Subject & Object
Self & Others
Gradual & Sudden
Sameness & Difference
Conserving & Adapting
As our practice deepens and broadens, we also find that a very natural process of insight occurs. Sometimes this process is very linear, or stage-like, while at other times it feels like progress comes and goes, much like the waxing & waning of the moon. In The Phases of Insight, we describe the core phases that one can move through, as you deepen in Insight. The final phase of insight–The Completion Phase–marks the beginning of what we call the Waves of Wakefulness–a map which describes the life-long journey of deepening wisdom, one that begins with Waking Up to the fundamental truth of consciousness, and then turns toward Waking Down with all of life.
Finally we include within our Wisdom Training–Many Dharmas–multiple ways of knowing truth. For us, the map of our biggest influences would need to include the following dharmas: Mindful Dharma, Pragmatic Dharma, Psychedelic Dharma, EcoDharma, & Integral Dharma. This list is not exhaustive, we have other influences, but these are the main dharmas that inspire our dharma.
Mindful Dharma is borne out of the Western Insight Meditation movement–the original hot bed of innovation and practice out of which the mindfulness movement was borne. Here, we find connection to Mindful Dharma through our teachers, Jack Kornfield & Trudy Goodman, and from many other Insight meditation teachers, especially Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and many others. In the Mindful Dharma approach we aim to bring together the best of the East & West in language & concepts which are accessible, but which bring forth the depths out of which they sprang.
Inspired by the original Buddha’s teachings, while being fleshed out through the contemporary teachings of & Daniel Ingram & Kenneth Folk, Pragmatic Dharma is a ruthlessly practical approach to the three trainings of Buddhism. And while Pragmatic Dharma is often known for its emphasis on the classical stages of insight meditation, and mastery of the states of meditative absorption, it’s also known for its innovative contributions to the contemporary Buddhist & Mindfulness scenes. In fact, through Kenneth Folk’s pragmatic dharma, the practice of Social Meditation & Social Noting were born.
With Psychedelic Dharma, we recognize that the long-standing usage of psychedelic substances, when combined with both clear intention & care to the path of Buddhist meditation, can lead to wonderful results–to deep insights, healing, and freedom. Psychedelic Dharma brings conventional forms of wisdom into question, and opens up a practical path of investigation, working alongside a psychedelic agent. We give special thanks to the psychedelic dharma teachings of Ram Dass, pioneer of the way, and to all of the indigenous wisdom traditions of human heritage.
With EcoDharma we recognize that during this time & age, our practice must also be a response to the Ecological Crisis. We don’t exist in individual bubbles, where we can practice independently from the world, rather we are part of this planet, and must learn to practice as-if this were true. Inspired, especially, by the teachings & writings of David Loy, EcoDharma is included because it provides a direct call to action, rooted in both an awareness of the profound potential of dharma, and as a need to revise our traditional dharmas, so that they can be in response to the Ecological Crisis.
Finally, inspired by Ken Wilber and his Integral Metatheory, Integral Dharma uses The Four Turnings of the Wheel and The Four Ups–Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, & Showing Up–to help us orient toward integrating the deepest depths of practice with the biggest potentials for evolving life. Also, we must mention Diane “Musho” Hamilton and her Integral Zen as a deep and abiding influence on our approach to Integral Dharma.
As our practice matures, our capacity to act skillfully, and with greater wisdom & compassion, increases. In the training of ethics we examine the ways that we can bring the depths of our practice into life, and life into practice. Here we take the contemporary meta-crisis–the overlapping & interconnected crises that our planetary species is facing, including Systemic Racism, the Ecological Crisis, the Inequality Crisis, the Democracy Crisis, and the Meaning Crisis–just to name a few of the overlapping crises that make up our larger Meta-Crisis.
Through our practice we explore the best ways to marry together contemplation and action. We don’t see Ethics as being separate from Meditation, rather it’s the natural place to look for how we’re being changed by our practice. The culmination of meditative discipline is in transcendent wisdom which takes embodied form as right action in-context. That these 3 trainings continue endlessly, means that we continue to refine our understanding in response to changing life conditions–that is our dharma evolves.
With respect to Buddhist Geeks, the organization, we also include within our training in ethics, our Universal Training Guidelines [in process] and our Teacher’s Code of Ethics. These guidelines and codes help us to orient skillfully with one another, in community, helping us to not “go off the rails.”
In an attempt to respond to the meta-crisis, we’ve developed an alternative economic model, that we call Transparent Generosity. And we’re also working to pioneer a new protocol for sharing information–openly & freely–called Open Source Dharma. Anyone can adopt the Open Source Dharma protocol-it simply requires a re-thinking of how one shares information, and earns a livelihood in the information age. Finally, our organization engages in the cutting edge organizational practice called Holacracy. We see this practice of self-organization as providing a powerful alternative to traditional models of organizing, as it avoids both the extremes of authoritarianism and death by consensus.