Rebel Saints Starts Seattle Sangha to Integrate
Traditional Dharma with New Thinking

Written by: Rachael Savage

Art of one of our guiding teachers’ knuckle tattoos, "ethics and mindfulness."

Art of one of our guiding teachers’ knuckle tattoos, “ethics and mindfulness.”
Photos: Courtesy Rebel Saints Meditation Society, Dave Smith

We are Rebel Saints Meditation Society. After unsuccessfully searching for Sangha, a community to meditate with in Seattle that practiced the original teachings of the Buddha in a practical and revolutionary way, we started our own!

We are out to prove we can meditate anywhere, even in the middle of the city. There’s no need to go the mountaintop.

Rachael Savage and friends have put together the Vajra on Tenth space on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Rachael Savage and friends have put together the Vajra on Tenth space on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

We are building an engaged American Buddhist community in the heart of Seattle.  We practice meditation together, we learn the teachings of early Buddhism together, and we are learning how to take our experience out into society.

Rebel Saints Meditation Society was born from several dedicated, long-term meditators, who for a few years rented a room where they listened to podcast teachings from Against the Stream Meditation Society in Los Angeles.  We are inspired and encouraged by the original Dharma punk Noah Levine, and by his crew Dharma Punx and Against the Stream Meditation Society.

After meeting for two years we knew that for our gang to grow we needed to have a dedicated space, to be led by experienced practitioners, and to have regular visits from meditation teachers.

A poster for Vajra on Tenth’s Tuesday series on the four  foundations of mindfulness.

A poster for Vajra on Tenth’s Tuesday series on the four  foundations of mindfulness.

In response to these needs we in September opened our new space on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, which we call The Vajra on Tenth.

We now offer two weekly sits: Tuesday nights 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday mornings 10:30 a.m. to noon. Our weekly Tuesday sits are led by Rachael Savage, who also alternates leading our Sunday sit with Rachel Fiala. Both of us trained with Against the Stream.

We also offer monthly half-day and daylong retreats.

We regularly bring visiting teachers to Vajra On Tenth from Against the Stream Meditation Society.  Dave Smith, founder of Against the Stream Nashville, will on March 24 and 25 offer a talk and half-day retreat.  On April 15 Chris Cotty, of Against the Stream Boston, will lead another half-day retreat.

Noah Levine, founder of Against the Stream Meditation Society and author of “Dharma Punks,” “Against the Stream,” and “Heart of the Revolution,” will come to our space to give a talk on May 21.

We practice the Theravada tradition of the Thai forest elders. Our lineage comes down from the late Thai master Ajahn Chah, who believed the teachings should be accessible and practical.


Rebel sit-poster for our Sunday sit, with Standing Rock bodhisattvas.

Rebel sit-poster for our Sunday sit, with Standing Rock bodhisattvas.

“You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth – inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important.”
Ajahn Chah


We believe in straightforward simple instructions that anyone can understand and immediately begin to practice.

We are not interested in mystifying anyone. This is not an intellectual exercise for us. We are a meditation society with a clear lineage and mission. We believe the Buddha in his teachings was very clear.

Find out for yourself the truth of his teaching. We can only do this through time on the mediation cushion and support from community. At every sit we give simple and clear instructions and practice meditation together.

We think people who come should be able to take home what they have learned and begin practicing, so they can see clearly through their own experience the truth of the teaching. We support people finding the truth for themselves through their own efforts. We believe a fellow practitioner, facilitator, or teacher is meant to encourage and support practice.

At Rebel Saints we value the wisdom that comes from practice. We share our experience of the practice, not intellectual understanding. Even someone who has just learned to meditate has something to contribute, from his or her own experience. In this way a true and reliable source of refuge=Buddha=awakened one, can grow in each practitioner. The Dharma=truth can be seen in each person sharing honestly about their own practice, including the good, bad and the ugly. Through this openness we can see that others in the group are “just like me,” and this is creating a real community of practitioners=Sangha.


Meeting community needs

We believe in practicing engaged Buddhism. We are against greed, hatred and delusion. We are committed to supporting our Sangha in taking direct action by providing a place to educate, discuss and organize to make positive change. We are inspired by the life work of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Buddha.

We believe that to wake up we must continue to be brave and to look at reality.  Then we use fierce compassion to continue this tradition of non-violence, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

The group offers weekly Refuge Recovery meetings, a dharma approach to issues of addiction.

The group offers weekly Refuge Recovery meetings, a Dharma approach to issues of addiction.

We practice to sustain action against the causes of suffering in our communities.  We are against the oppression, poverty, and modern-day slavery caused by the 1 percent of people with great wealth, and by a corrupt political system. Many of us participate in protest, political campaigns and continued activism.

We are forming a regular group now to educate and support allies. We will discuss the Buddha’s radical teachings on equality for all, and will unveil where we may still be asleep on topics of race, gender, class and sexuality.

As modern-day American Buddhists we feel we need to take the ethical and moral clarity we gain on the cushion to create a just, democratic society, which cares about and acts to relieve suffering.

To practice this principle of action and engagement, The Vajra on Tenth and Rebel Saints Meditation Society hosts Refuge Recovery, twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Addiction is an epidemic of our times; including everything from drugs and alcohol to food, phones, and status.

Refuge Recovery is a recovery program for addiction of all kinds, based on the Buddhist principles of the four noble truths and the eightfold path. Developed over a eight-year period by recovering members of the Against The Stream Meditation Society, Refuge Recovery is a complete recovery program. It uses daily meditation, personal inventory writing, mentorship and Sangha, to end the suffering that addiction causes in the life of the addict and those impacted by the addict.

The eyes of the Buddha greet people upon entry.

The eyes of the Buddha greet people upon entry.

In three years Refuge Recovery has grown from a single group in Los Angeles to an international organization of more than 250 groups, plus a dedicated treatment center in Los Angeles. Our Capitol Hill group is one of the original groups, formed upon the 2014 release of the book “Refuge Recovery.” Over the last three years groups have formed in Fremont, West Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

From the start a primary intent of The Vajra On Tenth and Rebel Saints Meditation Society has been to support a structured, consistent and coherent program of addiction recovery based on Buddhist principles, as well as supporting the growing community of Refuge Recovery practitioners.

We are dedicated to maintaining a place of refuge in the middle of the city, where people can come and sit, share and learn together, and where they are supported to take action and create positive change in this world.  Come sit with us! Be part of the revolution of heart and mind. You are not alone.

Please contact us at or Rachael Savage at 206-261-5296.

About the Author: Rachael Savage
Rachael Savage is a Buddhist practitioner, meditation leader, entrepreneur, and co-founder of Rebel Saints Meditation Society. Savage has been a dedicated meditator since 1995, and continues to seek out new ways to build Sangha.