What Get’s Left Out: Issues of Cultural Spiritual Bypassing in Western Convert Buddhism, Feb 9 & 10


Event Details

  • Date:

Saturday, February 9, 10am – 5pm
Sunday February 10, 10am – 3pm

What gets left out of our spiritual practice? And why? “Premature transcendence” or spiritual bypassing has been described by John Welwood as unskillfully using a spiritual practice to avoid addressing psychological wounds and unresolved personal issues. This is usually discussed only on the personal /psychological level, yet a spiritual practice can be used to avoid or “bypass” unresolved collective/ cultural issues as well — this is what we are calling cultural spiritual bypassing.

During this extended weekend we will look at how cultural spiritual bypassing manifests both collectively and individually, especially within our contemporary convert Buddhist traditions. We will use silent and relational practices to investigate often bypassed explorations including practice forms, devotion, the body, the feminine, and cultural appropriation. We will come together in a multicultural community to create some understanding of how to expand our understanding of practice,  community, and freedom.

The two-day portion of the weekend, is being offered by invitation only, at the discretion of our teachers, regarding group size. Please be aware, we are first inviting people of color (POC) to participate, with the intention of cultivating a 50 percent POC space.


COST: Sustaining: $250 Base: $200 Member: $150

The weekend begins with an optional evening program on Friday night. Saturday & Sunday participation is required. While the Friday session is optional, preference may be given for those available to attend the full weekend.

The registration for this offering is a two-step process: application, followed by an invitation to register. This application process is an intentional effort by our teachers to establish and nourish a diverse participant group based on an equitable review process and not based on a typical first-to-register-and-pay process.

To apply, please fill out the questionnaire here. If you are selected to attend this offering, you will receive an email invitation to register.

Partial scholarships are available for offerings such as this one. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please use this link. Scholarship applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

BZC offers retreats on a sliding scale basis to allow participants to pay according to individual means. Please consider giving at our sustaining rate, which directly supports inclusive community attendance on this retreat.

A vegetarian lunch will be served both on Saturday and Sunday.

CHILDCARE: The program space will be open to infants, toddlers and their caregivers attending the retreat. Separate childcare and space will be available for older children. Please see the application form and provide additional information if you require childcare for children 4 years old and older. Please note that pre–registration is required for childcare; please see the application form.

Please note our cancellation policy: To request a refund for this event, you must notify BZC in writing at least one week before the beginning of the course or event. Refunds are issued for any and all cancellations up to seven days before an event less a $10 processing fee. Less than seven days before an event, we do not offer refunds. There are no refunds for events with registration fees under $50.


About Sebene Selassie

Sebene Selassie is a dharma teacher, writer, coach and consultant. She began studying Buddhism over 25 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. For over 20 years she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large social justice and social change programs. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to East Harlem, NY, to refugee camps in Guinea. She is the former Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center and currently serves on the boards of both the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and Sacred Mountain Sangha. Sebene is passionate about making the dharma accessible and relevant for our times and teaches regularly online, in New York City, and nationally. Sebene is a 3-time cancer survivor.

About Brian Lesage
Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India, as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide. Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma. You can also visit his website for Somatic Experiencing here.


Access Notes: There is one short flight of stairs leading to the entrance to the building. Please press 3-0 to be buzzed in. The center is located at the top of a steeper second staircase of around 20 steps. A ramp and elevator are available via an alternate entrance; please email in advance if you need access to the ramp. Chairs, benches, and extra support cushions are available. We are not yet a fragrance-free space; our hand soap is scented with essential oils. If you have any additional questions about accessibility, please contact us at info@brooklynzen.org.