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EcoDharma Exploration

Remembering Our Reciprocity with Earth

an Extended Earth Day Exploration


  • Pennie Opal PlantPennie Opal Plant
  • ThanissaraThanissara
  • Alison Ehara-BrownAlison Ehara-Brown


Join us for an extended, embodied period of practice. Guided by Thanissara, Pennie Opal Plant, and Alison Ehara-Brown, we will explore the ways that Buddhist and Indigenous traditions can enrich and inform one another for the benefit of all beings.

This offering is part of the launch of our new website, our Virtual EcoDharma Center, to support you and your groups on the path of engaged practice.

Registration is now closed. We hope you will join us for future EcoDharma Explorations!

Man in the forest among the trees
"Man in the forest among the trees" by Malik Venema (CC0)


Most of us “moderns” have inherited a view of ourselves as separate from the earth. Yet some are heir to lineages that have defied forces of colonialism, genocide, and enslavement. They remember and pass on the embodied knowing that they belong to the living Earth. Buddhist and Indigenous* teachings offer different views of the cosmos and the human. Yet they have the potential to inform and enhance one another in a way that may be exactly what we need at this moment in time.

Over the course of this two-week period, fierce and beloved teacher Thanissara, and protectors and defenders of the sacred system of life Pennie Opal Plant and Alison Ehara-Brown, will take us on a journey to embrace our utter embeddedness in the living Earth. By exploring new ways of looking, we can see for ourselves how the mind shapes our perceptions of ourselves and the world. Through their mutually enriching traditions, we can affirm ways of being and knowing that involve the senses, the heart, and the imagination. From this fertile ground, they will invite us into energized yet humble participation with the webs of life.

As we are now confronted with environmental devastation, global pandemics, an economic system that fosters chaos in the world, and an inability to think clearly or collectively toward a viable way to the future, perhaps it is time to pick up where the Founding Fathers left off and continue to learn from the Haudenosaunee. What better time than now to consider the ancient wisdom of our ancestors who, for thousands of years, sustained a more equitable way of living in proper relationship with the natural world? Who better to model a world where women reside at the center of deliberations and nature exists as our relative—not just a resource?Sandy Bigtree, Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, and Philip P. Arnold, Syracuse University

*This identification term was chosen by the teaching team.

A New Format

We are offering this program in a format that is designed to engage you and your groups in exploring a particular aspect of EcoDharma together over the course of two weeks. Yet this isn’t an “online retreat” nor is it a stand-alone, one-off webinar. Rather, it’s an extended offering designed to help you go deep with the teachings and practices.

It begins with background materials, then guided meditations, teachings, and inquiries. After exploring these teachings and practices on your own or in groups, you’re invited to join all registered participants and the featured leaders online in a capstone conversation (this gathering has now passed, but a recording is available on the materials page). The offering concludes with invitations for follow-up actions related to the program themes.

As we develop this new format, we invite you to share your experiences at the live gathering and in the comments section below.

Support for Groups and Individuals

As always, we encourage you to engage with this series of offerings in community, to whatever extent that’s available to you. Perhaps you journeyed through the EcoSattva training with others, or you’re part of an EcoSangha that meets regularly. Maybe you belong to a spiritual or activist community, or just have a friend or two you’d like to explore this terrain with. We invite you to reach out to your people and bring them along. Regardless of whether you join on your own or with others, we’ll provide you with practices that support the teachings to take root.

If this will be your first time facilitating a group, you might check out our Guide for Facilitators. Note that this was written with the EcoSattva Training in mind, so some parts may not be relevant to this exploration.

NOTE: As we experiment with this new kind of programming, we hope to provide more support for groups, akin to that provided for EcoSattva Training groups: a directory of online and in-person groups as well as discounts for those who register as part of a group.


Exploration materials are now available, including recordings of a welcome ritual, a core Dharma offerings, and a guided meditation from our leaders. You may also find individual and group practices and inquiries on the Materials page. You decide how you want to engage with the material offered—a little bit every day, a day-long deep dive, or somewhere in between. Then, on April 25, gather with us for a conversation among the teachers and a culmination of the previous weeks of exploration.

Available Now – Preparatory Materials

Exploration Materials

  • Welcome/Opening Ritual: a video recording welcoming us into collective exploration
  • Core Teachings: two video recordings, one featuring Thanissara, and one featuring Pennie Opal Plant
  • Guided Meditation: an audio recording for you to take with you “into the field”
  • Individual/Group Inquiries: questions for contemplation, in formal meditation, journaling, or group sharing
  • Capstone Gathering: Video recording of the live conversation with teachers on April 25
  • Engaged Practice Opportunities: Ways for you or you and your group to take actions inspired by this exploration

Access Materials

How to Use these Materials

The choice of how to approach this exploration is ultimately up to you. If you have a group, discuss in advance how you will use the material together. Here are some ideas:

  • Agree to prepare for and then practice the Welcome/Opening Ritual together.
  • Gather to watch the core teachings or watch them individually.
  • In the same or another meeting, explore the inquiries in dyads or triads.
  • Alternatively, plan a day or half-day practice session around the recording of the capstone gathering.
  • Along the way, incorporate the guided meditation and/or inquiries into your daily practice.

Registration Fees and Dana (Generosity)

The live gathering has passed, but registration remains open through the end of April.

Registration includes access to all materials. Our fees are structured as a sliding scale based on your access to wealth. Scholarship discounts are also available. More about our fee structure here. You can convert USD (US Dollars) into your currency with this currency converter.

For people with medium, high, or very high access to wealth in the global context:

      • Supporter rate: $50 USD
      • Basic rate: $35 USD

For people with low access to wealth in the global context:

      • Supporter rate: $35 USD
      • Basic rate: $ 20 USD

We will invite dana or generosity for our teachers as well as One Earth Sangha as part of the materials and capstone session.


Pennie Opal Plant – Yaqui, Mexican, Choctaw, Cherokee and European

Pennie Opal Plant is one of the co-founders of Idle No More SF Bay, a co-founder of Movement Rights and a signatory of the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty. She has worked for over 35 years to ensure that the sacred system of life continues in a manner that is safe, sustainable and healthy. Her mother is Yaqui and Mexican, her father undocumented Choctaw, Cherokee and European. No members of her family have ever lived on a reservation. She lives in unincorporated Contra Costa County and sees the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California every day.

Alison Ehara-Brown – Mohawk, Seneca, Scottish and Palatine German

Alison Ehara-Brown is a co-founder of Idle No More SF Bay and now serves as a grandmother advisor. She is a signatory on the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty, and has participated in non-violent direct actions on every solstice and equinox since the Treaty came to life in 2015. She was a key organizer of the Bay Area Refinery Corridor Healing Walks from 2014 to 2017, where indigenous women led Native people and our allies from many organizations on healing walks from between the five refinery impacted towns along the San Francisco Bay. Alison began her involvement with civil disobedience at the age of 13. Now a grandmother, she helps inspire and train other grandmothers to hold the streets, risk arrest, and support younger people.


Thanissara embodies the integration of the contemplative with the activist. Trained in the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition, she was a was a monastic for 12 years. She and husband Kittisaro founded Dharmagiri in South Africa where they integrated activism on AIDS while hosting month long retreats that synthesize Theravada and Mahayana, drawing from the Mantra, Chan, and Pure Land teachings and practices, in particular focused on the Quan Yin Dharma door through the transmission of Master Hsuan Hua. As member of the Spirit Rock Teacher Council, Thanissara later co-founded Sacred Mountain Sangha based in California. She has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy from the UK, and is author of several books, including Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes.


Registration is now closed. We hope you will join us for future EcoDharma Explorations!


If you still have questions, check out our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and if you don’t see your question answered there, let us know by email and we’ll do our best!

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