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Ordinary Dharma and Manzanita Village


Ordinary Dharma is a Buddhist Community rooted in the meditation traditions of Vipassana and Zen and committed to the teachings of Deep Ecology, Nonviolence, Engaged Buddhism, and movements for social justice. Based in Southern California, Ordinary Dharma offers meditation instruction, workshops and trainings, retreats, tapes and CDs, Aikido and Iaido training, Hypnotherapy, and Counseling. Retreats and workshops are held at Ordinary Dharma’s rural retreat center, Manzanita Village, in Warner Springs, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and various other North American locations. Manzanita Village is located on nineteen acres of land west of the Anza Borrego desert in San Diego County. Surrounded by National forest and public land, Manzanita Village offers a remote and wild setting for retreats, and the resident teachers—Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki—consider the land itself to be a teacher. The teaching and practice at Manzanita Village are rooted in the belief that spiritual practice is inextricably related to issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Workshops and retreats integrate traditional Buddhist teachings and mindfulness practice with deep ecology, social justice, nonviolence, peace-making, and the creative arts. As well as traditional approaches to Buddhist Meditation, other practices geared towards awakening a sense of connectedness with the earth include: contemplative bowing called “touching the earth,” earth-centered Gathas (short poems to support mindfulness) for walking meditation, and deep ecology process work. The retreat center has a strawbale hermitage for personal retreats as well as room for approximately thirty-five formal retreat participants and serves organic, vegetarian, and non-genetically modified food.



Geographic Location

United States of America
(Southern California)
Duration of Project 1983–Present
History Ordinary Dharma began as a Vipassana Buddhist meditation group in Venice, California in 1983, but gradually opened to other spiritual traditions including: Zen, deep ecology, and Engaged Buddhism through teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Joanna Macy. Ordinary Dharma coordinated the Los Angeles chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship from 1987–1992. In 1993, Manzanita Village was established in Warner Springs as the rural retreat center of Ordinary Dharma with Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki as the resident teachers. In 2002, the Five Changes Foundation was formed as a nonprofit, educational foundation dedicated to non-violence and community renewal with a special emphasis on youth empowerment. A forty day winter retreat was reinstated at Manzanita Village in 2003 and program planning continues apace with the newly formed Five Changes Foundation.
Mission Statement None Listed
Partner Organizations Ordinary Dharma works closely with the Five Changes Foundation, a collective of activists working for social justice within different spiritual/artistic contexts, providing training and workshops in various areas for children, youth, and adults. Offerings include workshops for unlearning racism; workshops to develop mindfulness in the workplace; retreats in deep ecology, systems theory, and related subjects for youth activists; and retreats for homeless gay and transgendered youth.
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Ordinary Dharma-Manzanita Village
P.O. Box 67
Warner Springs, CA 92086
Ph:       760.782.9223
VM:       310.470.8443
Fax:      760.782.0655