Through stories and songs, art projects and games, discussions and ritual, children in our Dharma School are offered opportunities to deepen their understanding of themselves, the teachings of Buddhism, and the practice of the Dharma in their daily lives. We strive to navigate a Middle Way between a sense of the sacred, mysterious, and ceremonial, and the light-hearted songs-and-games side of life. The children learn to use tools to tackle the deeper questions, and have a good time doing it.
Dharma School is for children and young people ages 3-18 who are interested in Buddhism or who come from Buddhist homes. It meets roughly every other Sunday from September to June. Participants are divided into five groups, roughly organized by age/grade:
- Daisy: Toddler to kindergarten
- Willow: Primary elementary school
- Dogwood: Older elementary school
- Spruce: Middle school
- Doug Fir: High school
We do not require that either the family or the child identify as Buddhist, much less as a Soto Zen Buddhist. Some Dharma School students have no affiliation with Dharma Rain Zen Center outside of Dharma School. Acknowledging the validity of the spiritual path that their parents are on is an important part of supporting these children. We do ask that children have parental consent, that they are interested in Buddhism, and are willing to participate fully. Parents who are interested in Buddhism are encouraged to participate in Dharma Rain adult programs.
Other Dharma School activities include picnics and family days, participation in sangha activities, performances for the sangha, service projects, and occasional overnights for the Spruce and Doug Fir groups.