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"When one thought ends, right before the next thought begins,
there is a tiny gap called 'now.' Over time we learn to expand that gap."

– Spring Washam

Retreat Teacher Training

The offering or teaching of meditation and Dharma (the practices and understandings of the Buddhist tradition) is considered a spiritual discipline in itself. Held as an act of generosity and compassion at every level, Dharma teaching allows the teacher to share that which has benefited their life, and in doing so, to deepen their own understanding and foster the embodiment of their own Dharma, and inspire a life of mindfulness and lovingkindness.

We understand the role of a Dharma and meditation teacher to be a calling—held with virtue, integrity and compassion, as a sacred trust. Those who are privileged to serve in this way are honored by this responsibility and consider it a blessing.

The most advanced level of Teacher Training offered in our lineage is the training to become a retreat teacher. Almost every member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council has completed this training. Retreat Teacher Training (RTT) is an intimate 4-6 year process that includes extensive study of traditional texts and contemporary Theravāda teachings, a wide range of teaching skills and practices, mentoring and apprenticeship with senior teachers, as well as further training with meditation masters from a variety of lineages.

For the past 25 years, Spirit Rock has sponsored these teacher training groups, and trained teachers across the country. Initially these trainings were offered by Jack Kornfield, and now they are run collaboratively by a collective of teachers from Spirit Rock, the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA, and the Insight Meditation Center (IRC) in Redwood City, CA.

Students cannot apply for this level of training. Instead, every four to six years, retreat teachers from Spirit Rock and associated communities recommend their best candidates—students who they believe have the profound depth of meditation practice, the wisdom, experience, compassion, maturity and teaching temperament to join the next training group. Such candidates will almost always have done dedicated years of practice and a number of extended retreats, such as regular two-month retreats at Spirit Rock, three-month retreats at IMS, and, in many cases, periods of training in Asia.

These potential candidates are brought before the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and the training teachers from IMS for consideration. Among the pool of possible trainees, a group of 20 or so will be chosen to be invited into the next 4-6 year training. The selection will look for those with the most potential to skillfully carry, teach and embody the Buddhadharma, and will also look to select a diverse group that can support and serve students in communities.

Completion of the SR/ IMS/ IRC 4-6 year training culminates in an empowerment and recognition of the new teachers’ standing as a retreat teacher in the Insight Meditation Community. Depending on the need, some of these new teachers may be invited to join the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, or the IMS faculty. Others will teach in the many centers and communities established elsewhere.

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