GenX Dharma Teachers Sangha grew out of a conference of “NextGen” Buddhist teachers in 2011 at the Garrison Institute in upstate New York.
Fueled by the joy and benefits of meeting with peers – learning how to practice and teach the dharma across lineages – the group decided to meet every two years.
From the beginning, GenX Dharma Teachers Sangha has actively cultivated a culture of peers. The intention is to put our teaching roles to one side and relate to each other simply as friends on the path, helping each other learn and grow in our lives and in our profession. In addition, GenX Dharma Teachers Sangha aims for diversity in many ways—certainly across Buddhist lineages, but also by ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, and monastic and lay status.
Each of the subsequent gatherings has been headed by a different group of 5-6 member teachers representing different lineages. GenX Dharma Teachers Sangha shifted from defining the community by age to defining our group by birth year. For a variety of reasons, after lively and substantive discussions, GenX Dharma Teachers Sangha settled on 1960 to 1982.
Topics of conference discussion ranged from the practical: utilizing online teaching resources, developing communities, and navigating the Buddhist publishing world; to the philosophical: the relationship of Buddhism and mindfulness, the role of form and ritual in modern practice, as well as understandings different forms of renunciation.
David Perrin, a first-time participant at the 2019 Conference held at the Great Vow Monastery said, “My Buddhist tradition of Shambhala is primarily a householder tradition, so it was fascinating to take residence in a Zen monastery and meet dharma teachers from all around the world,” he said. “I made many new friends and enjoyed meaningful conversations and exchanges.”
Another first-time participant said, “As a newcomer I immediately sensed that there was a lot of trust already in the room. Returning participants rekindled existing friendships from past gatherings. This made me feel safe and grounded. I could tell how much love and respect was present in the monastery.”
“There is a lot of wisdom in the room when you have a group of dedicated Buddhist practitioners sharing and learning from each other,” said Kyira Korrigan, a Buddhist prison chaplain who has attended all the previous gatherings. “When everyone is your peer, you can be open in a way that isn’t always possible in other situations.”
The conferences have been held every other year, and have brought together teachers from across traditions and training backgrounds, with representatives from the Theravada, Vajrayana, and Mahayana schools as well as from the Zen, western Insight, Triratna, Won, and Jodo Shinshu.