Groups & Events
In naming this community “Dharma Friends Community,” we highlight the importance of relationships with friends on the path. All Dharma Friends gatherings intend to support each participant as a friend would offer support. Additionally, we see the teachings themselves as offering the help of a good friend.
Callie Justice leads all Dharma Friends groups and events, unless otherwise indicated. To find out more about Callie, visit the Leadership page.
All teachings at Dharma Friends Community are offered freely as a practice of dāna. Dāna, or “giving,” is a central practice taught by the Buddha. In relating to others from a sense of open-handedness, freely giving (particularly in support of the growth of the Dharma), we create rich conditions of mind and heart for the development of the Buddha’s path. Participants will likewise have the opportunity to offer donations in support of the teachers.
Upcoming Groups and Events
Click on any event below for more information. To view our full calendar, please click here.
Recent Past special event
Developing Breath Meditation - A Weekend Retreat
This retreat was held June 28th-30th at Avila Retreat Center.
Developing Breath Meditation
Mindfulness of breathing is one of the most powerful practices taught by the Buddha.
In the early stages of developing this layered practice, we begin to focus and calm our minds and our bodies. We become increasingly familiar with how to practice in ways that strengthen our relationship with our breath and that diminish the presence of obstacles getting in the way of that relationship.
Over time with practice our connection to the experience of breathing as it unfolds moment-by-moment becomes much stronger. We experience breath not only as a physical phenomena, but through the development of very positive feeling-tone qualities such as tranquility and joy. We grow familiar with how our minds change as our relationship with the breath strengthens becoming clearer, more peaceful, more still.
How The Retreat Environment Works
Uninterrupted extended practice opportunities such as those offered by the retreat environment are necessary in order to develop mindfulness of breathing to the fullest.
The ‘Developing Breath Meditation’ retreat will be held in noble silence. The silence of retreat provides a powerful container for ongoing mindfulness throughout the day and night. The presence of others – the retreat’s teacher and the other retreat participants - brings friendship to the silence in support of each participant’s practice.
The retreat schedule will be structured to support the participation of those who are new to retreat and of those who have more retreat experience. We anticipate that some people will benefit from more guided meditations while others would prefer to simply practice in silence. We understand that some will want the structure of meditation hall group sits of relatively short duration – 45 minutes or so - while others may prefer to meditate alone in their rooms for longer sitting periods. Based on information given following registration, we will design the retreat schedule to support the practice needs of all participants as much as possible.
Teachings For The Retreat
‘Developing Breath Meditation – A Weekend Retreat’ will be led by Callie Justice. Callie’s approach to teaching emphasizes the interweaving of meditation/contemplation practices with study of the teachings from the early discourses that shed light on these practices. She focuses on explaining the underlying processes at work in the various aspects of developing the Buddha’s path, and on helping each individual learn to identify and work with these processes for themselves. The retreat will include guided practice, dhamma talks and opportunities for questions and discussion. Callie has extensive practice with leading and managing meditation retreats and is the guiding teacher for Dharma Friends Community. To learn more about Callie visit the Leadership page.
Dharma Friends small groups are kept to a membership of no more than eleven people. The small group size is intended to help participants develop relationships with one another, and to give each individual time to use the group for exploring what the Buddha’s teachings offer to them personally.
All small groups meet in the Dharma Friends Community Meditation Hall, which is located in Durham near the NC School of Science and Math.
Beginning the Buddha’s Path offers an introduction to newcomers, and is also meant to be beneficial to those who already have some experience with the Buddha’s teachings.The next Beginning the Buddha’s Path Group will meet weekly for six weeks on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm beginning on July 16th and concluding on August 20th, 2019. Click here for more information about this group.
Practice Deepening Groups meet weekly on an ongoing basis in order to develop the practice and understanding of the Buddha’s path. People who join a Practice Deepening Group are generally asked to commit to participating for at least 5 months. These groups are planned for those who have some experience with meditation practice, and who have some familiarity with the Buddha’s teachings. This summer a special one-month Practice Deepening Group, Developing the Seven Factors of Awakening, will be offered in August. For more information, see the description under the heading ‘Upcoming’ below. The next 5-month Practice Deepening groups will begin in mid-September, and more information will be available on this page in the coming weeks.
For general information about Practice Deepening groups, click here.
The group ‘Establishing Right Mindfulness - A Deep Dive’ described on this page below was the topic focus for the Practice Deepening Groups from February through June this year.
Establishing Right Mindfulness - A Deep Dive
Right mindfulness is a layered and richly textured aspect of the Buddha’s path. This four month group meets weekly to investigate the full breadth and power of this essential teaching. The emphasis is on helping each individual to develop their personal practice in the light of what the Buddha taught. The group began meeting in February, 2019, and is currently closed to new members.
A primary resource for the group is Bhikkhu Analayo’s book Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide. In addition to presenting Bhikkhu Analayo’s perspective, the group’s leader, Callie Justice, draws on teachings from a few other teachers (Bhikkhu Sujato, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and Eviatar Shulman) and from her own readings of the early Buddhist texts to further refine and clarify an approach to the process of developing right mindfulness.
Each week focuses on specific practices for participants to work with over the coming week. Giving plenty of time for sharing personal experiences and supporting each individual’s process of exploration from week-to-week is a priority.
Please let us know if you would be interested in participating in a group like this one in the future by using the Contact page. New groups will be offered based on the feedback received.
Developing the Seven Factors of Awakening will meet every Sunday for the month of August. The Seven Factors of Awakening are qualities in the mind that support the development of the Noble Eightfold Path as a whole and that play a crucial role in deepening and strengthening meditation practices. In this Practice Deepening group we will take a look at key teachings on the Seven Factors of Awakening and we will explore how these qualities actually show up in our own minds both on and off the cushion. The group will include time for shared guided practice as well as for hearing the teachings and discussion. Two sections of the group are available: Sunday mornings - 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. or Sunday evenings - 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. To register or to learn more about this group, please contact Dharma Friends Community through the Contact page.
Special Topics Groups offer the opportunity to focus on specific topic areas within the teachings of the Buddha. Generally, these groups ask for a shorter time commitment than the Practice Deepening Groups. The next Special Topics Group, ‘Looking at White Privilege with Help from the Buddha’s Path,’ is described below. This group is on hiatus and will be offered again in the fall of 2019.
Looking at White Privilege with Help from the Buddha’s Path
This group is not currently meeting. If you are interested in participating in a group like the one described here, please let us know through the Contact page. New groups are offered based on interest level.
Looking at experiences around race and racial identity can be emotionally challenging, and those of us in privileged positions can have a hard time seeing beyond the limits of our personal circumstance. In this group we will look to contemporary anti-racist activists to teach us somethings about whiteness and about the suffering (historical and present-day) that systems of race-based dominance and privilege cause in the lives of people of color. Some of the sources we will turn to are: the James Baldwin documentary ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ Julius Lester’s book To Be A Slave, and three online talks - Robin DiAngelo on white fragility, Tim Wise on 'Race and Whiteness in the Era of Trumpism,' and Carol Anderson on white rage.
To help us to hold our explorations in skillful ways, each group meeting will begin with a period of guided meditation, and all participants will be asked to commit to devoting at least 30 minutes to daily meditation practice over the six-weeks that the group meets. We will especially look to the Buddha’s teachings on cultivating a heart of good will and compassion, establishing mindfulness of the body, and developing ethical trainings to support our efforts.
This group is structured to meet for six weekly 90-minute sessions. A specific meeting time will be set based on the availability of those who express an interest. The meeting place will be the Dharma Friends Community Meditation Hall located near the NC School of Science and Math in Durham.
The group will be led by Callie Justice. Like all Dharma Friends Community groups this group is offered free of charge as a practice of dana. Participants who wish to offer donations to Callie will have the opportunity to do that.