Now in its seventh year, the School for Awakening is an extended program of self-exploration and peaceful abiding designed to invite the full realization of our timeless spiritual nature. (For shorter classes, satsangs, and intensives offered by the School for Awakening, visit the Teaching page.)
Needless to say, the name is something of an oxymoron: No, you can't "study" awakening in a school--and yet you can immerse yourself in the direct teachings and have an opportunity for deep exploration with an awakened teacher and kindred spirits in an environment that in some ways does resemble a "school." Indeed, "upanishad," the Sanskrit term for the core texts of Advaita Vedanta, literally means "sit down next to," the practice of students gathering around a teacher in extended, intimate dialogue--an intimacy that has been largely lost in the current nondual teaching scene.
The School for Awakening eight-month program (often just called the School) is an “enlightenment intensive” consisting of:
- Two three-day weekend retreats linked by
- Four four-week teleclasses and
- Twelve individual mentoring sessions
The format invites people from around the world who might not otherwise have regular access to a teacher to gather and share in the process of investigating and realizing the truth together.
Designed and led by an awakened teacher, the program creates a small-group environment in which the direct experience of true nature or unconditioned mind can be nurtured and deepened. In addition to group sessions, participants are supported in exploring silent sitting and self-inquiry on their own. (Participants have the option of crediting their involvement toward an advanced degree at the International University of Professional Studies.)
The teacher, Stephan Bodian, has been practicing and teaching the path of awakening for more than 40 years, including a decade as a Zen Buddhist monk. After studying Asian language, religion, and culture at Columbia and Stanford, Stephan trained with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind) and several other Zen teachers, directed the training program at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, studied Dzogchen with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and spent 10 years as a student of Advaita master Jean Klein. (For a more complete biography, click here.)
In 2001 Adyashanti gave Stephan Dharma transmission (authorization to teach) and invited him to share the truth with others. His life is devoted to making authentic spiritual awakening accessible to a wider audience. He's the author of the popular guidebook Meditation for Dummies and coauthor of Buddhism for Dummies. His latest book, Wake Up Now: A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening, was published in hardcover by McGraw-Hill in 2008 and is now available in paperback and Kindle editions. (To read an excerpt, click here. To order a copy, click on the book to the left.)
The eight-month program is structured around two three-day weekend retreats and features 16 group sessions by phone (four telecourses) and 12 half-hour individual counseling sessions. Participation in each module is limited to 12 people. Where occasional satsangs or Youtube videos can be illuminating, the School is an up-close, personal, dynamic, intensive, interactive opportunity to explore and awaken right now--and to clarify and embody the awakening once it has occurred!
(For a more detailed description of the telecourses, click here.)
The program begins in October with a three-day nonresidential retreat. Each day Stephan offers a blend of guided meditations, Dharma talks, silent sitting, and ample time for intimate, in-depth exploration of the nature of nondual reality. The living words spoken in satsang are not abstract concepts but direct pointers that invite an immediate glimpse of our timeless true nature. Participants also have an opportunity to get to know one another and connect as a sangha.
After six months of regular group meetings and individual counseling sessions, participants join for another three-day nonresidential retreat to deepen their investigation and realization. (Most participants drive or fly in and stay off-site.)
Throughout the eight months, participants meet regularly by phone to sit quietly together, listen to brief dharma talks, ask questions, engage in guided meditations and various forms of self-inquiry, share experiences and insights, and maintain their connection with the teacher and one another. (For a more detailed description of these telecourses, click here.) Each class explores a particular theme or aspect of truth and provides a vital, ongoing invitation to awaken from the dream this very moment. To deepen their individual inquiry, participants also have 12 half-hour phone counseling sessions with Stephan.
One Student's Experience
"I had read books and attended larger retreats, but the catalyst for a deeper opening came through attending the School for Awakening. Being able to sit with Stephan sounded a gong within me that reverberated at a previously unrecognized level of inwardness.
"Stephan has the settled, unhurried quality of someone deeply steeped in being, and this is counterbalanced by the startling vitality of a consciousness unblinded by the mind, a consciousness empowered with the energy of wakefulness.
"Yet I felt at ease with Stephan. I did not feel judged by him. He is unpretentious and has the lightness and playfulness of someone who doesn’t take the forms of the world over-seriously. Stephan admits his humanity and doesn’t pretend to be “special”, he doesn’t call himself a guru, but a spiritual friend.
"I remember the doubt and fear that nearly prevented me from enrolling in the School. The idea of such a small group of people and such close proximity to a teacher was scary, definitely outside my normal comfort zone. All the travel arrangements, costs, and time commitments were further obstacles holding me back.
"But I listened to my heart. For once I walked past the voice of fear. Two years after completing the School for Awakening, the ripple effects continue to permeate every aspect of my life. I will always be grateful that I decided to attend the School. I highly recommend it to others."
--Colleen Loehr, M.D.
Location and Fees
The cost of the eight-month program is $1795. (Plane fares, meals, and accommodations are up to participants.) For those who can't afford to pay the full cost in advance, an installment plan may be arranged. Weekend intensives will be held in Tucson, Arizona.
If you would like to schedule a free phone conversation to ask questions about the School, or to register for the program, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-451-7133.