To Dharma Works
Buddhist Practice for the Real World.
Why "Dharma Works"?
There are two ways to read this phrase. The first is a statement about the effectiveness of the Buddha’s teachings. It tells us that the Dharma—what the Buddha taught—works to reduce suffering in our lives.
The second way to read Dharma Works is as a place where some kind of material is worked with, as at an iron or steel works. In this case, the Dharma is held, refined, and turned into something we can use in everyday life.
How the Dharma Works
The Dharma is not a silver bullet. It’s an elegant methodology for gradually loosening our grip on our habits of suffering and being ever more present for opportunities to move toward freedom.
Our Dharma Works
We call our sangha Dharma Works because we’re committed to both meanings of the term. We’ve discovered that to the extent we work with them, the Buddha’s teachings work for us: they support our aspirations to become kinder, wiser, more spacious and authentic human beings. They make us less reactive to life’s ups and downs, and so more available and useful to others.
Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it.
What the Buddha Taught
The Buddha gave us a set of tools, rather than a collection of beliefs. He didn’t ask us to shift our opinions to conform with his, or to take on a moral code. Rather, he showed us how to train in changing our relationship with our experience. When we do, we find that our opinions and ethics naturally shift with our deepening understanding.
Working with the Dharma
Like iron, the Dharma isn’t created from scratch. It’s discovered, and when its value is recognized, we bring it into our lives and engage with it. What’s more, our personal Dharma Works is situated right in the heart of our everyday experience, where the richest raw materials are to be found.
The Joy of Effort
Committing to the path of Dharma requires effort. Happily, in the Buddhist tradition effort is associated with joy. Our Dharma work is a source of delight, even when it’s difficult—as it definitely can be at times. Our delight is multiplied by the presence of our sangha: our Dharma friends and family, who stumble, leap, slog, and skip alongside us on the path to greater sanity.
As a Buddhist sangha, we at Dharma Works embrace both the effort and the joy of working with the challenging, radical buddhadharma. We’ve made up our minds to keep deepening our understanding of its subtleties, difficulties, rewards, and paradoxes. And we’ve committed ourselves to supporting each other in finding our way along this sometimes daunting, always enriching path.
How Can We Help?
Curious about Buddhism? Want to learn how to meditate? Interested in connecting with a group of heartfelt, spiritually active practitioners? Dharma Works is always open to new faces and voices. Whether you just want to sit quietly with your mind, learn more about the buddhadharma, or compare notes on bringing your practice into everyday life, drop by and see if Dharma Works works for you.
Is Dharma Works for You?
Perhaps you’ve heard a little about Buddhism, and are curious to know more. Maybe you’re a long-time practitioner, looking for a sangha to support your practice. Whatever drew you to this website, we invite you to join us at one of our regular gatherings. These are online at the moment; contact us through the form at the bottom of this page for the information you’ll need to log in. We look forward to meeting you, and to including you in our ongoing exploration of the profound and liberating Dharma.
Where/When Do We Meet?
Current pandemic conditions have moved our weekly gatherings online. We typically meet via Zoom and spend our first half-hour meditating together. Then Wood gives a talk—currently, on one of the lojong, or mind training, slogans—and we finish up with discussion (often lively!).
We miss our real-time, real-place gatherings, of course; but the upside of the online environment is that you can join us from literally anywhere in the world. To be a part of our sangha gatherings, fill in the contact box below, and we’ll send you a link. We’ll be glad to see you!
We Western Dharma practitioners enjoy a wealth of study resources in the form of books, magazines, and online audio and video teachings. Those listed on our “Resources” page (see link, above) reflect the inspiration of our lineage, as well as the insights of other authentic and brilliant teachers. There are plenty of other great Dharma resources, of course; the ones listed here simply offer some directions for you to explore.
Jennifer “Wood” Woodhull has studied and practiced the Dharma since 1984. Many of us are still coping with the aftermath of a global pandemic and its associated social and economic (and sometimes medical) stresses. Wood’s close teacher is American-born nun, teacher, and prolific author Pema Chödrön. She has also received teachings from the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Lama Tsultrim Allione, and other Vajrayāna teachers.
Wood has taught extensively in her home country of South Africa. She currently volunteers as a chaplain at La Vista Correctional Facility, a women’s prison in Pueblo, Colorado. She is an upadhyaya, or Shambhala Buddhist minister, and holds a doctorate in religious studies. In addition to her activities with Dharma Works, Wood maintains a private counseling practice based on Buddhist ethics and practices.
Real-World Practice for
We live in strange and difficult times. Most of us are scrambling to cope with the unprecedented demands of a global pandemic and its associated social and economic stresses. As if that weren’t enough, some of us are also dealing with punishing personal losses. These conditions are exacerbated for people of color and other disadvantaged populations, who must navigate them on a ground of grueling inequalities and prejudices already long in place.
It’s in times like these that the Buddha’s uniquely practical wisdom comes into its own. Our Dharma Works sangha is committed to bringing our current difficulties on to the path of practice. We warmly invite you to join us in uncovering and celebrating the shared humanity available to us all, even—and perhaps especially—in the midst of our heartache.
The Dharma Thrives with Your Support.
In Asian countries, the Dharma is seen as an essential service, like food or medical care. Thus, communities support their teachers as a matter of course. Dharma teachers don’t enjoy that kind of support here in the West. Yet teachers have their own bills to pay and their own teachers to support. If the Western sangha is to survive and thrive, it will take all of our material participation.
Dana, a Sanskrit word meaning “generosity,” is often used to describe financial offerings made in appreciation of Dharma teachings. The dana you contribute here goes directly to our teacher. If you feel you have benefited from her teachings, please consider contributing.
Generosity is the first of the paramitas, or practices that take one to the “other shore” of realization. Thus, the act of giving is said to benefit the giver as much as—and possibly even more than—it does the recipient.
As for how much to offer, it’s traditionally suggested that you give just a little more than feels comfortable. This might be as little as a dollar; the amount is not relevant to this practice.
Whatever you choose to offer, Dharma Works thanks you for your generosity.