Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy

Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy

We now have a Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy Support Network

Please share this offering with those who may benefit.

The application period for our 2024-2026 program is now open!

We are committed to forming a cohort that is truly representative of the full diversity of our society and aspire to have 30-40% of the participants be BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). BIPOC applicants are strongly encouraged to apply and scholarships are available for those in need.

Applications will be received and reviewed until the program has filled. Please see application link below.

Course Description:

This program offers basic Buddhist training in the wisdom and skill needed to be a Buddhist Environmental Chaplain, i.e., those who work to support people in developing healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationships with each other and with the natural world. It will offer experience-based activities and contemplative practices that deepen individuals’ own relationships with the natural world, as well as provide them with skills to be spiritual caregivers, helping others (re)connect with nature and face contemporary socio-environmental crises with wisdom and compassion.

Areas of Training:

  • Environmentally Based Spiritual Care: Purpose and functioning of an environmental chaplain, applications and settings for ecologically oriented spiritual care, engaged Buddhism
  • Histories of Environmentalism: Environmental Movements, Environmental Justice, learning to engage with contemporary issues of social/environmental justice
  • Eco-Chaplaincy Skills: Spiritual counseling, collaboration with others, nature-based ritual, more-than-human storytelling, council practice, nature-based rites of passage
  • Buddhist practices and teachings related to environmental care
  • Practices, rituals and ceremonies for ministering ecological death, dying, grief and loss
  • Deep nature connection and practices for (re)connection to nature
  • Cultural competency
  • Conflict resolution
  • Design and implement personal project related to Buddhist Eco-chaplaincy

Details and Logistics:

The BEC training program will run for one and a half years (18 months) and will include ten one or two-day online retreats and two seven-day residential retreats (California based location). Courses will include teachings, sessions of meditation, skills training, reflection, group work, community building and practice in nature. In between courses, participants will be assigned readings, writings, and exercises, and have regular meetings with other participants. A key learning component of the program is for participants to create and engage in a personal project of their choosing that aligns with the goals of the program; this is putting into action the intention of the training and what is learned. Offered by Gil Fronsdal, Susie Harrington, Ram Appalaraju, and Kirsten Rudestam. The retreats will also feature guest teachers and facilitators skilled in specific areas of teaching and inquiry. Upon completion participants will receive certificate of completion in Buddhist Eco-chaplaincy Training from the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies.


This program includes two one-week retreats and 17 days/10 online sessions

August 20-21st
Sept 6th
October 14-20th (in-person retreat)
December 17-18th
January 9th
February 10-11th
April 21-22nd
May 19th
July 20-26 (in-person retreat)
August 28-29th
October 20-21st
December 15-16th


The cost for the eighteen-month program is a sliding scale of $4000-6000. The sliding scale allows participants to choose the level they are able to support the program and the teachers. Your generosity is appreciated and will also help provide support for those who need financial assistance. We offer work exchange opportunities and a limited number of scholarships for those who need assistance. Our wish is to not have funds prevent people from participating.

Criteria for Enrollment:

  • Four years of regular and committed Buddhist practice and study, and 21 total day on Buddhist meditation retreats. Equivalent involvement with other contemplative or spiritual traditions may qualify also.
  • Education and/or experience related to environmental issues and/or nature-based practices.
  • Some training in counseling, leadership skills, or teaching.


Gil Fronsdal is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He has been teaching since 1990. Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has a B.S. in Agronomy from UC Davis where he was active in starting the Student Farm and the Alternatives in Agriculture Program. Practicing Buddhism in the wilderness has been formative for his understanding of both Buddhist practice and our relationship with the natural world.

Kaira Jewel Lingo is a Dharma teacher with a lifelong interest in spirituality and social justice. Her work continues the Engaged Buddhism developed by Thich Nhat Hanh, and she draws inspiration from her parents’ lives of service and her dad’s work with Martin Luther King, Jr. After living as an ordained nun for 15 years in Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic community, Kaira Jewel now teaches internationally in the Zen lineage and the Vipassana tradition, as well as in secular mindfulness, at the intersection of racial, climate and social justice with a focus on activists, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, artists, educators, families, and youth. Based in New York, she offers spiritual mentoring to groups and is author of We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons in Moving through Change, Loss and Disruption and co-author of the forthcoming, Healing Our Way Home: Black Buddhist Teachings on Ancestors, Joy and Liberation (Feb 2024) from Parallax Press. Her teachings and writings can be found at www.kairajewel.com.

Susie Harrington is the guiding teacher for Desert Dharma, based in Moab, Utah. She teaches both regionally and internationally. She has trained in the Insight tradition since 1989, and began teaching in 2005, with additional influence from Tibetan Buddhism, Advaita, and the Diamond Approach She offers retreats outside, believing nature to be a profound teacher, and a gateway to our true self. She was an outdoor professional for over 30 years, including years as a river guide, mountain guide, and backcountry ranger; and she now finds her greatest delight in sharing her love of the dharma and the natural world. She is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher’s Council.

Kirsten Rudestam is an environmental educator, wilderness guide, and meditation teacher. She has a PhD in Environmental Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she studied political ecology, sense of place, and environmental justice. Kirsten has fifteen years of experience teaching environmental field courses, nature-based meditation programs and guiding wilderness expeditions. She is trained as a vision fast guide through the School of Lost Borders and is a facilitator for Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. Kirsten has been practicing vipassana meditation since 2001 and graduated from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program in 2005.

Ram Appalaraju has been practicing Buddhism since 2014 and studied Vedanta since 1998 at Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Chinmaya Mission. He has been studying Buddhism under Gil Fronsdal. He is trained as an eco-chaplain and regular chaplain at Sati Center and serves as an eco-chaplain at environmental organizations. He volunteers at non-profits focused on causes relating to environmental issues and community activities particularly to underprivileged communities and he is one of the organizing team members at IMC’s Earth Care community group. He also serves as a prison chaplain at Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy of Santa Clara County CA and is currently pursuing Clinical Pastoral Education.

Application Details:

To apply, please complete the  Eco-Chaplaincy-Application-2024 and email to buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.com. As part of your application, we ask that you include a letter of recommendation from a teacher, mentor, or colleague in one of the above areas. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions at buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.comApplications received before May 1st will be processed by that date and subsequent applications will be processed in the order received until the course is full.

For More Information please email buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.com

Sati Center’s Eco-chaplaincy program is supported by a generous grant from The Bess Family Foundation.

Testimonials for the Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy Training Program

“The 18-month journey has invited me into a much more intimate relationship with the more-than-human world. I’ve learned to listen more deeply and more willingly to the cries of beings, sorrowful and joyous and everything in between. I’ve deepened my practice of offering a wholehearted presence to the moment. I’ve gained confidence in my own as well as our collective capacity in facing the challenges in this unprecedented time. Thanks to the program, I’m inspired to keep going on the path of walking myself and each other home, that’s our Mother Earth, our true nature, and to live in the question of how I can be a chaplain to our home.” – Kuan Luo

“Looking back over these two years of training with the Sati Center’s Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy program, I find myself in awe over the depth of this offering and the ways in which the program has transformed me. The BEC training has allowed me to deepen my resiliency and steadfast commitment to environmental justice and the innate rights of all beings and aspects of our planet through ways other than my usual patterns of exertion, grit, and alarm. Now, due to the brilliant unfurling of this training, rather than grasping I feel my whole self as part of the living Earth, which allows me to—trust that the ache is not mine alone to carry, honor that the work is best done in community, and see that all around me there is wonder and joy and possibility. This training has freed me from despair and brought me fully home in body and spirit and I bow to the faculty, this growing community of Buddhist Eco-Chaplains, and to our sweet Earth.” – Kendell C Klien

“BEC has taught me both skill and determination for “active listening.  I have long been a student and writer of words, an inhabitant of intense political realms, obsessed with figuring out what would make our world a better place.   Now, in my maturity, this taking in of what another is trying to convey enables me to have a chance to help that other human being, whether through words, physical gestures, actual comforts, and/or plans for further assistance.  In other words, the training has made me a better person”.  – Barbara Rhine


Sati Center for Buddhist Studies

The Sati Center has been offering classes in Buddhist Studies in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1997. Our perspective balances scholarly inquiry with serious meditation practice. We believe that study and practice work together to deepen one’s realization of the Dharma and to help manifest that realization in the world. For information on ongoing Sati Center programs please visit us at www.sati.org or contact us at karuna@sati.org or 650-223-0311.

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