Dharma Gates is a non-profit organization committed to making intensive meditation practice accessible to young people of all backgrounds. Our programming introduces people to retreat environments while contextualizing these experiences in a way that makes sense in modern life. Participants have opportunities to learn and practice both classical and interpersonal meditation. The bridging of individual and social practices can give an experiential understanding of the relationship between meditation practice and ethics, which is core to our values. We offer people firsthand experiences of intensive meditation practice as a powerful tool to confront the social, environmental, and economic challenges of today’s world. We acknowledge the reality of individual transformation without denying the existence of systemic oppression. All of our events are accessible to low-income participants through offering low-cost programming and generous financial-aid. This is made possible by donations, grants, and fundraising.
While meditation has become popular, most practitioners never achieve the level of development that is possible. Transformation is not only available to monks living in the mountains of Tibet, but also to people embedded in the daily challenges of 21st century life. We use Buddhist language in our programs to both respect the cultures from which these practices come and to acknowledge the possibility for transformation that they offer. Dharma Gates offers a bridge from casual meditation practice to formal training through workshops,retreats, and online community.
Buddhism is a creative practice which has undergone innovation every time it spreads to new lands. We seek to encourage dialogue across disciplines, including contemplative traditions, neuroscience, critical theory and philosophy, and social and environmental justice. These are powerful conversations we hope to join and accelerate. We will produce a variety of curricula and resources to encourage new ways to engage with contemplative practices. Simultaneously, we recognize that contemplative traditions have been marginalized within the Western intellectual tradition. We refuse to minimize or downplay the potential for transformation that these traditions offer, and encourage students to find out for themselves just how powerful contemplative practices can be.
The Interpersonal And Social
In our globalizing world, we are enmeshed in both local and global community, and our actions affect people across the planet. We are dependent on and participate in interconnected, often unjust, systems. We must account for this in the way we practice and participate in the world. In this, meditation can be a social and political practice which promotes not just individual but collective liberation.
Our commitment to direct action for the benefit of others is reflected in the following components of our organizational structure:
Programming. We promote interpersonal meditation as a tool to deepen relationships and promote authenticity amidst a culture of shallowness and distrust. Our workshops and programming are designed to include, open to, and face the real and difficult situations in the world. We help contextualize how meditation can be integral to creating compassionate, determined, and resilient people in the face of adversity.
Affordability. We are committed to affordable programming and transparency about our organizational structure. We strive to make our programs both affordable and accessible to underrepresented communities. We are always open to critical feedback, especially with regards to ways in which we can be more accessible to individuals of different social backgrounds, especially communities of color and other underrepresented groups.
Non-Human Animal Rights. Dharma Gates is committed to minimizing the harm we cause to the other beings that we share our planet with. In order to actualize this, we put effort into minimizing the consumption and use of all animal-derived products. None of our funding will be used for the purchase of eggs, dairy, meat, leather, or other non-vegan products. We choose to do this because these products are produced through the direct exploitation of another individual’s body. In this way, we define ourselves as a vegan not-for-profit organization. This being said, many of the monasteries we work with do serve dairy and eggs and may use other non-vegan products, and we are grateful for their participation in the programs we offer. We partner with these centers while maintaining our commitment to animal rights and environmental stewardship.