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The Introduction to Buddhist Chaplaincy Trainings combine workshops & classes with activities that students complete in their communities. This combination  makes it easier for students to participate while balancing work and family commitments.

Our educational method is one of action and reflection, wherein students not only learn in class, but also apply their learnings in real life situations and then reflect on these.  This is a tried and true method for the training and development of chaplains, ministers, therapists, and the like. Click here for an explanation of this method.

These are graduate-level trainings that includes several self-directed learning components. Participants commit to attending workshops, reading and writing, and completing 100 hours of service. At the end of the 11 months, certificates are presented as follows: a Certificate of Completion is given to students who have:  a) attended 10 out of 11 monthly workshops; b) completed all writing assignments –or– a Certificate of Participation is given to students who have: a) attended less than 10 daylong classes;  b) not completed all writing assignments.

Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Learning Diagram


In-Person Training: Paul Haller, Gil Fronsdal, and Jennifer Block co-created this training together in 2003, and have been co-leading it since then. For bios, click here.

Online Training: Vanessa Able will be leading the online training program with Trent Thornley and Dawn Neal as core faculty. Jennifer Block, Gil Fronsdal and Paul Haller will be visiting teachers. For bios, click here.

Learning Outcomes: Chaplaincy necessitates special skills and diverse knowledge. It entails academic engagement and rigorous spiritual development. In completing this training participants will have been introduced to the field of chaplaincy/spiritual care. This includes having a basic knowledge in some of the important skills and understandings needed for chaplaincy. Graduates will also understand important practices, teachings, and virtues that provide the foundation of Buddhist compassion-based forms of spiritual care.

Participants interested in becoming professional chaplain will become well-prepared to enroll in professional chaplaincy training. Most commonly these are year-long, full-time programs called Clinical Pastoral Education that are offered in some hospitals. Completion of the Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Program is a big support for being accepted in these CPE programs (especially in SF Bay Area hospitals which know our program). Those not interested in professional chaplaincy (a majority of our participants), will finish the program with a clear understanding of the skills, understandings, and options for both volunteer chaplaincy and providing spiritual care in various areas of their life.

In completing the program, participants will have been introduced and practiced with these and other basic chaplaincy skills:
– Articulating their own understanding and approach to Buddhist spiritual care
– Establishing and deepening spiritual-care relationships.
– Providing spiritual care to people experiencing grief and loss.
– Reflecting on one’s own experiences in offering spiritual care.
– Understand the role of their own spiritual, religious, or non-religious history in being able to offer spiritual care.
– Understand effective “uses of self” in offering spiritual care. This includes practices of presence and non-judgmental awareness, emotional availability, cultural humility, appropriate self-disclosure, positive use of power and authority, self-care, and clear sense of appropriate boundaries.
– Uses and types of ritual, prayer, and guided meditation.

Participants will also have a basic understanding of how key Buddhist practices relate to spiritual care. These include:
– Compassion
– The Paramis/ten perfections (generosity, ethics, renunciation, wisdom, effort, patience, truthfulness, resolve, loving-kindness, and equanimity
– Mindfulness, embodiment, emptiness, letting go
– The Four Noble Truths
– Refuges and ritual
– Sangha

These trainings are designed for and welcoming to a diverse population.
It is our sincere intention that faculty and participants in the Sati Center’s Introduction to Buddhist Chaplaincy Training all contribute to co-creating a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment in which to learn.
We acknowledge that in our culture not all populations share the same levels of privilege, access, opportunity, and visibility, whether this is due to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic class, religious affiliation or physical ability. We take seriously the importance of attending with care to this imbalance.
An integral part of the ongoing inner and outer work of a chaplain is addressing the ways in which difference can lead to the harm of discrimination and oppression. In teaching and learning chaplaincy, we are committing to discover, connect, and uphold our shared humanity.
As the faculty of the Sati Center, we are dedicated to a careful examination of all the input we receive from our program participants, with an emphasis on equity and inclusion. We acknowledge the importance of our own continuing education in cultural competence and humility.
We also recognize the specialized training in diversity, equity and inclusion presented by other institutions that we are not qualified to offer. We encourage and support involvement in these trainings as a way to enrich and build upon the chaplaincy skills we put forward.

  • In-person training varies each year, from 12-24 people.  Participants come primarily from the west coast, with 75% from the Bay Area.
  • Online training will be from 12-16 people.  Participants will come from all over the US, Europe, and beyond.
  • During the year, we become a sangha and benefit from friendship, mutual learning, and shared practice.

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