Young Adults Explore Buddhism

On June 9-15, Sravasti Abbey will host its annual “Young Adults Explore Buddhism” program. Now in its 16th year, the program is for adults aged 18-29 who are interested in learning more about Buddhism and meditation. Young people of all backgrounds are welcome.  No previous experience in meditation or knowledge of Buddhism is required.

The program includes daily teachings and Dharma discussions with Abbess Venerable Thubten Chodron and a chance to interact with a Buddhist monastic community.

In addition, Dr. Russell Kolts, a psychologist at Eastern Washington University, will lead a session on practicing compassion in daily life. Service activities, group walks, and break times also give plenty of opportunity for connection and collaboration.

The sangha receives the robe of merit.

A Rare Space for Spiritual Conversation

Munsel is an anagarika (trainee) who lives at the Abbey. She participated in last year’s Exploring Buddhism program and writes about her experience.

Munsel said that it’s rare for people under 30 to be interested in Buddist teachings, the Dharma. “It seems like most people around me are interested in making money, drinking, partying, socializing, Netflix, hooking up on Tinder for the 100th time, and just living that dream,” She said.

“It’s really refreshing to talk about lasting happiness with folks similar in age and to get some insight into their personal understanding.”

Confusion in the Spiritual Marketplace

Folks who are searching for a spiritual path can probably relate to Munsel’s experience. “Knowing that this program even existed would have been a huge help for me when I first started practicing the Dharma in my teens,” she said.

“Looking back,” she continued, “I think I was really just practicing a mix of random spiritual, new-age stuff that I thought was the real deal. I would go on Tumblr and Instagram where people were like, ‘Awakening exists! To get there you just have to really want it and be in the present moment!’ So, I practiced that for years, not knowing that those instructions were incredibly unrealistic and very misleading.”

Authentic Spiritual Teachings

Meeting pure Dharma teachings at the Abbey was a life-changing event for Munsel. “Venerable Chodron’s teachings really cleared up my confusion. She brings karma and rebirth into the picture, which is essential in understanding the full, complete path to liberation and enlightenment.”

Why is Dharma practice so rewarding for her? Munsel continued, “Nothing in my experience of life so far has been as reliable and fulfilling as the Dharma. My relationships came and went. So did friends, money, status, jobs, entertainment, fun experiences, all of that. Without constantly keeping up with all these endless activities, what are we left with?”

Trainee rings gong.

Benefits of Ethical Living

The Exploring Buddhism program offers the chance to experience a lifestyle that is rooted in the ethics of non-harming.

Munsel said, “We become so much happier in life when we stop doing all sorts of things that harm ourselves and others, while we also really nourish ourselves and others through acts of kindness and helpfulness. This is the beginning of a magic recipe to happiness, and it WORKS. But really, it’s not magic, it’s cause and effect.”

Building a Spiritual Community

The Young Adults Explore Buddhism course talks about the root causes behind personal anxiety, depression, and stress and how to overcome them. Sharing with others is a key part of the program.

Munsel observed, “I saw a sense of community grow throughout the week as participants shared their similar experiences, the struggles they face, and on how the Dharma has helped them through real difficulties in their life.”

Munsel advises, “If anybody is even just a little curious about the Buddhist path, and in connecting with new Dharma friends, check this week out.”

More Information & Registration

To learn more about the Young Adults Explore Buddhism program, visit the Explore Buddhism page on this site. You can also read the reflection, “Surprised by Compassion,” written by 2019 participant Jyoti.

Visit the Abbey’s YouTube channel to watch interviews with past participants and listen to teachings from previous programs.

To register for the program, fill out the online form.