Fall Inquiry 2019, 7 weeks Oct-Nov 2019:


  • attha, in the language of the Pāli Buddhist texts, means “meaning”.
  • Throughout the program we will adopt an open and supportive attitude towards critical inquiry into the meaning and meaningfulness all the sources we draw on, following serious questions wherever they lead, not stopping with an appeal to the authority of any text, teacher, or tradition.
  • The 3 year program will offer sufficient support for all those involved to develop the ability to read short excerpts from the Pāli Nikāyas in the original language, learning to critically engage with “the words of the Buddha” for themselves.
  • The Fall Inquiry 2019 will include a critical examination of the idea of buddhavacana, "the words of the Buddha", and a brief introduction to some of the karaniya-mettā sutta, the discourse on goodwill. We will also spend time on critically examining the practices of satipatthāna (mindfulness) & brahmavihāra (divine abidings of goodwill, care, joy, & equipoise), with a particular focus on critically examining the employment of these practices for the sake of tasting cessation (nirodha).
  • Future Inquiries may focus on other practices (see the Range of Practice policy).

Week 1

Who are we? Introductions

(Community team takes gathering role)

(Total 1.5 hrs, 30 mins Visioners, 50 mins whole group, 10 min meditation)

    1. Before 1st module, record 60 sec video answers to three questions below as part of fall application and selections: Who are you? What is most meaningful for you? What would be most meaningful for this program to bring into your life?
    2. Opening (~30 mins = 2.5min x 12 visioners)
      1. Ask the attha visioning team to prerecord thoughts on the above , as well as thoughts on:
        1. value/meaningfulness & “unexamined values”
          1. (see e.g. ibme’s “unexamined” values)
        2. Diversity, safety, challenge
        3. Power differentials, collaborative leadership
        4. Value of lineage, teachers, authority
    3. Need to be very explicit that showing up to everything having already worked through materials is necessary for making the commitment, at end of fall, to 3 further years
    4. Watching of the 1 min videos of other participants (48 x 1min ~ 50 min max)
    5. Closing meditation (10 mins)

Week 2

What is the Meaning of Radical Friendship?

(Jake takes gathering role)

(45 mins pre-recorded material & prep time, 45 mins small group discussion)

Clarifying each of our perspectives on the values that have (so far) structured this (new) form

    1. Intro into first lines of the karaniya-mettā sutta, in the Pāli
    2. Reflections on specific values from karaniya-metta (Visioners), e.g.
      1. having realized the the place of peace
      2. honest & upright
      3. good at feedback, gentle, & not conceited
      4. contented, easy to support, not too busy, with lightness of being...
      5. a heart of friendship without bound,
      6. like a mother would protect her only child
      7. brahmavihara all the time
      8. equanimity & removing greed for sensual pleasures
    3. onward inquiry: Why pay heed to texts like the karaniya-metta?
    4. small group discussions

Week 3

What is Meaningful about “the word of the Buddha”, Buddhavacana?

(Brenna takes gathering role)

(45 mins pre-recorded material & prep time, 45 mins small group discussion)

    1. Religion of translation (Salomon)
        1. The bibliographic nature of the Chinese canons (Salomon)
    2. Oral tradition → Written tradition
      1. Oral tradition conveyed via saṃgīti, the formal recitation of the Dhamma by monastics.
        1. People connect to rhythmic form, chanting
      2. Written tradition occurred (perhaps) due to strife between different Buddhist groups (Collins) or due to the general nature of war and impermanence.
    3. Small group discussions:
      1. Why do we find canons and the texts in canons to be meaningful?
      2. Knowing that the process of canonization/canon formation was at times unharmonious, what does this mean for the values that the texts share (e.g. those in karaniya-metta sutta)?

Week 4

What should we practice, and what for?

(Jake takes gathering role)

(45 mins pre-recorded material & prep time, 45 mins small group discussion)

    1. Text: buddhist modernism- (McMahan & Sharf)
    2. Video (30 mins)
      1. Discussion of traditionally rooted vs broadly ecumenical practice
      2. Debate about (mahasi? Early buddhist?) goal of cessation
    3. Intro to questions about Values around selecting & supporting teachers
    4. Small group discussions

Week 5

Collaborative Leadership

(Collaborative Leadership team takes gathering role)

(45 mins pre-recorded material & prep time, 45 mins small group discussion)

Week 6

Who are we? Conclusions

(Community team takes gathering role on how manage self-selection and overall acceptance into 3 year program)

(Total 1.5 hrs: 5mins intro, 25mins organic self-selection process tbd, 50 mins whole group, 10 min meditation)

    1. Intro (5 mins): Building community worthy of the people, and people worthy of the space
    2. We hope that each of us has come to see for yourself whether a 3 year commitment to this is a fit for you & the group
    3. Each participant record 60 sec video: What is most meaningful for us? Why are we here? Who is “we”?
      1. Watch others’ videos (~50mins)

Week 7

What's next?

(Cetanā team takes gathering role)

(Total 1.5 hrs)

    1. Whole group coming together to transition into the 3 year program
    2. Outline of decision making around specific elements
    3. Signing up for some teams