For six evenings this summer, New Yorkers can have all of Green-Wood Cemetery’s 478 acres (almost) to themselves to meditate and contemplate a topic that we usually do our best to ignore: death.  

Death and Dharma, co-hosted by the Brooklyn Zen Center and Green-Wood, kicks off on June 20 and continues through September 19. Teachers from the center, as well as guest teachers from Tibetan and Chan (Chinese Zen) traditions, will lead discussions on impermanence, interconnectedness, preparing for death, and more.

The series, which will invite advanced practitioners and meditation newbies alike to consider the various stages of decomposition all around them, is meeting a big demand for death contemplation. Harry Weil, Green-Wood’s program manager, said that the cemetery held two meditations last summer that were so “wildly successful” that the events had long waiting lists.

“We tend to bracket death as separate from our lives—it’s taboo, and people don’t feel comfortable talking about it in polite society,” Weil said. “This is about putting death into conversation.”  

Danielle Saint Louis, executive director of the Brooklyn Zen Center, agrees. Although there are numerous Buddhist death contemplation practices, dying is a topic that often doesn’t come up enough in temples and practice centers, she said.

If you have a hard time tuning out the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple when you meditate, not to worry. The event is after hours, so the grounds will be . . . dead quiet.

Green-Wood Cemetery is located at 500 25th St., Brooklyn, NY, 11232.

Death and Dharma starts at 7 p.m. on June 20 with a talk by Greg Snyder, teacher and cofounder of the Brooklyn Zen Center. The series continues on July 18, July 25, August 1, August 15, and September 19. Tickets are priced on a sliding scale ($5, $12, and $20). For more information on the additional teachers, and to sign up, click here.

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