Dharmapāla Training

Depth Dharma for Our Times:
Guardians of the Sacred, Holders of the Dharma
and Protectors of the Earth

January 2023 – October 2024

Teaching Team

Kittisaro, Thanissara, Yong Oh,
Dawn Mauricio, Adam Stonebraker
with guest teachers

To learn more about the Dharmapala Training watch the video of our Question and Answer session

*Dharmapāla is a Pali and Sanskrit term for those who carry the Dharma in their hearts and are guardians and protectors of the Way.

Kittisaro graduated from Princeton as a Rhodes Scholar and went on to Oxford before going to Thailand to ordain with Ajahn Chah in 1976. He was a monk for 15 years, during that time helped found Chithurst Monastery and Devon Vihara in the UK, trained monks, was a prison Chaplain, and taught extensively.

He disrobed in 1991 and since then has taught internationally. He co-founded Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in 2000 and helped initiate and support a number of HIV/Aids response projects in South Africa. He has studied and practiced Chan and Pure Land for 35 years, informed by the Chinese school of Master Hua, and has completed two year-long silent self-retreats. With Thanissara, he is co-author of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism. Kittisaro is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher Council.

Thanissara started Buddhist practice in the Burmese school in 1975. She was inspired to ordain after meeting Ajahn Chah and spent 12 years as a Buddhist nun, where she was a founding member of Chithurst Monastery and Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in the UK. She has facilitated meditation retreats internationally for the last 30 years and has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Practice from Middlesex University & the Karuna Institute in the UK.

With Kittisaro, she co-founded Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat and helped initiate and support a number of HIV/Aids response projects in South Africa. She has written several books, including two poetry books. Her latest book is Time To Stand Up, An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth. Thanissara is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher Council.

Yong Oh began meditating through the Soto Zen tradition and eventually transitioned to study, practice and teach in the Insight tradition. Yong serves as a teacher on the Dharma Council for the Durango Dharma Center and has sat on the board of directors since 2019. He also supports the Chattanooga Insight Meditation group, and teaches retreats at Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Yong is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s two-year Community Dharma Leaders program and the first Sacred Mountain Sangha two-year Dharmapala training. He is also a graduate of the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society Retreat Teacher Training program. He is also a mentor for Cloud Sangha, the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, and served on the faculty for the first Mindfulness Mentor Training Program. He is an acupuncturist, loves the outdoors and bringing the practice of meditation into nature and has a particular interest in devotional practice and supporting communities of color in the Dharma.

Adam Stonebraker has been practicing and studying meditation in various schools since 1999, and began teaching meditation, mindfulness, and yoga in 2010. He is a teacher and leadership council member with Sacred Mountain Sangha and leads teacher trainings, retreats, and workshops internationally, in yin yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

Adam is a graduate of Sacred Mountain Sangha’s 2-year Dharmapala Training and is a graduate and endorsed teacher with the Insight Yoga Institute. In addition, Adam earned his MA in Mindfulness Studies from Lesley University.

Adam is committed to an all-inclusive dharma, where no aspect of the human experience is left out. He has particular interest in the transformative power of the natural world, inter-faith dialogue, and the bodhisattva way of life.

Dawn Mauricio (she/her) has been practicing and studying Insight Meditation since 2005, and has graduated from the first teacher development group of True North Insight, and Spirit Rock’s Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training, Dedicated Practitioners’ Program, and 4-year Retreat Teacher Training.

She is known to teach with a playful, dynamic, and heartfelt approach, and leads daylongs, retreats, yearlong programs, and mindfulness workshops in Canada and the US for Spirit Rock, True North Insight, and for teens with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. Dawn serves on the board and guiding teachers council of True North Insight. She is also the author of “Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners”. For more information, visit

Dates and Form of the Training
The training is both In-person & Online


January 6 – 10
5-days – Online

April 28 – 30
3-days Online

July 14 – 23
10 days – In-person – Big Bear Retreat Center – California

October 27 – 29
3 days – Online


January 5 – 9
5-days – Online

April 26 – 28
3 days – Online

July 26 – Aug 4
10 days – In-personBig Bear Retreat Center California

October 25 – 27
3 days – Online

Core Focus of the Training

This Dharma-based two-year program offers a supportive pathway to explore and embody individual and collective Awakening as an efficacious ground for navigating the many challenges of our times. Guided by non-separative consciousness, a core focus is to move beyond business-as-usual and engage personal and systemic transformation.

Centralized within the Kuan Yin Dharmas, the Dharmapala Training synthesizes essential practices and teachings from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions: the cultivation of samadhi, insight meditation, the Bodhisattva ideal, non-dual dharma (Chan/Zen), and the use of recitation, mantras, ceremony and devotional practice.

A primary feature of the program is the development of smaller practice groups. Each group will be encouraged to explore building resilience while tasked with engaging in sacred activism through a Dharma informed project that meets the needs of these times.

At the discretion of the teachers, some criteria may be waived or considered in combination with other qualifications, especially in cases where life circumstances related to race, age, gender, class and other social and economic impacts have not allowed for intensive formal practice and study.

Criteria for Application

  • Minimum ten-year study and meditative practice of Buddhist Dharma.
  • Attended at least one retreat with Kittisaro & Thanissara (residential or online).

    Upcoming Retreats:

    Journey into Refuge, Presence and Love – Waitlist spaces available.
    LA Insight Retreat: Building Resilience in Challenging Times

    Other qualifying courses: Completion of the 8 week Introducing the Kuan Dharmas course (April 2 – May 22, 2022) – taught by Kittisaro and/or attending the SMS Online Awakening the Heart Course (course is currently underway).

  • 50+ nights on a Buddhist meditation retreat including long retreat practice.

  • A good sense of the Dharma, the Dharma world and retreat culture.
  • A deep commitment to the Dharma, love of inquiry, authenticity, and open mindedness when meeting new teachings and practices.
  • A commitment to ethical conduct, a feeling for service, and an internal orientation around the practice of generosity, renunciation, and compassion.

  • Some grounding in working with psycho-spiritual wounds, shadow issues, and power dynamics.

  • Some working understanding and appreciation of internalized and systemic conditioning due to race, gender, class, economic access, culture, geography and family-ancestral history.
  • For white applicants, completion (within the last 3 years) of race-aware training. This includes, if you haven’t completed such a training, aiming to undertake one as soon as you can. We recommend White Awake, Resmaa Menakem’s Somatic Abolitionism Course, Ruth King’s Brave Space RAG-DP
  • A commitment to educating ourselves about the realities of consensus scientific diagnostics of anthropogenic climate destabilization.

  • A commitment to using the program to work collectively and supportively of each other, and not purely for self-benefit and gain.
  • Committed to fulfilling the whole program, including small-group meetings and homework in-between retreats.

  • Committed to the financial requirements. Some scholarship money will be available, but the ability to contribute financially is expected. If you have a financial need please submit a financial assistance application when applying.

  • Committed to exploring personal shifts in lifestyle in accordance with low carbon output, harmlessness, and aligned with the Bodhisattva intention.

PLEASE NOTE: Dharmapala is not a Retreat Dharma Teacher training. It is training for deepening Dharma and Leadership.

Covid protocols are constantly changing and we will keep you updated.

Vaccination: All at both residential retreats must be fully vaccinated for Covid 19, with updated boosters in compliance with CDC recommendations two weeks or more before arrival. We will require everyone to email a digital copy of their vaccination card prior to arriving onsite.

Negative COVID-19 Test: All at the retreat will need to take an antigen test on the opening day of a retreat upon arrival. Individuals will not be admitted to the retreat if the test result is positive for COVID.