Retreat Plans

I’ve spent nearly the whole of 2020 doing personal retreat at home. I had a personal retreat scheduled anyway for January to March, which went well.  Then I emerged just in time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce the beginning of the Covid 19 lockdown. My plans to co-lead a 2-month retreat in Sweden in May-July bit the dust. So I decided to make a virtue of necessity and go back into personal retreat. This period will end in the middle of this month, after which I’ll be available until the end of August. During that time, I’ll lead a couple of  online events: for the Nordic Order Region and Buddhafield in the Web. (See here for dates.)

Vijayamala and I are hoping that our next 2-month retreat for Order members will go ahead in Jan-Feb 2021. We’ll make a decision by the beginning of September, and will be consulting beforehand with all those of you who have booked.

If that retreat is happening, then I’ll  probably spend September-November this year in personal retreat as well. It feels strange to be so out of contact this year, after doing so much teaching over the last 8 years. Hopefully it will be worth it, so that next year I can move back into activity from a deeper and richer basis , and teach from the experience I’ve gained through taking time out this year.

My hope is that in 2021 things will become more stable again, and it will be possible to lead face-to-face retreats. I’m now finalising details of a programme of events for next year. I look forward to sharing them with you.

With all good wishes,


Tales of Freedom for Free!

My good friends at Windhorse Publications are responding to the current pandemic by giving you the chance to download a free book every week, in an initiative they’re calling Free the Dharma. This week’s offering is my book Tales of Freedom.

You can take up the offer by going here.

You can also sign up to receive email notifications about their future weekly free offers here. And finally they also have a special ‘stay-at-home Book Sale on, with up to a third off selected titles and free postage. Enjoy!

Wishing you very good health wherever you are,


2019, and Future Plans…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any news here, so I’ll give a short overview of last year, which saw some big changes on the material level. It started with getting married on the 2nd of January, mainly for financial reasons, although it was good to have a chance to celebrate my relationship with Vijayamala. Nonetheless, it was it was rather squeezed into a busy time. We went to the Cambridge Registry Office in the morning, had a brunch at home to celebrate with a few family and friends, and then later in the day drove to Wales to prepare to lead a 3-month Order Retreat.

The retreat was held in a hotel we had hired on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The venue worked very well, and the surrounding area is very beautiful, with woods that were once an old deer park, the sea within easy walking distance, and a ridge from which there were views across to the hills, the Brecon Beacons, as well as down the coast and across the Bristol Channel to Devon and Cornwall.

There were getting on for 40 of us on the retreat, including some old friends. I enjoyed it very much, although it was quite hard work doing such a sustained period of teaching and meditation reviews. It went very well overall, although there are some things I would want to try doing differently next time to see if we can take people even deeper.

Then there was the usual round of shorter retreats at different retreat centres: on bodhicitta, sadhana, breathing meditation, the White Tara practice (which I co-led with Moksanandi), and a weekend for the men I’ve ordained into the Order, plus a couple of friends we’ve taken into the group over the years.

However, I did fewer short retreats last year, as I had made plans to begin a series of 3-month personal retreats at home. I did the first one from September to November. It was a valuable time, although not in ideal circumstances, because in the middle of it Vijayamala and I moved from Cambridge to a place in Herefordshire. We hadn’t planned it to be like that, but buying and selling property in the UK is a very uncertain business…

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in a new environment. Our new house is only a few minutes’ drive from Adhisthana, where I do a lot of events, and I have good friends in the area, as well as being closer to friends in Stroud and Bristol. The place we bought is big enough to run small retreats, for 6 or 7 people, in the future.

Future Plans

Talking of future plans, 2020 and the first half of 2021 will be taken up with doing three more personal retreats of three months each, as well as two Order retreats of two months each. The first of these happens in Sweden from May to July, and a couple of places have recently become available. So I won’t be leading any of the shorter retreats I usually do at retreat centres until the second half of next year. I’m sorry about that, but I hope my time devoted to my own meditation practice will bear fruit in deeper teaching in the future.

As I’m so much on retreat during this time, I also won’t be able to do much keeping up with people. My main periods of unprogrammed time this year are in mid-April to mid-May, August (including attending the Order conventions), and December. In the first half of next year, I’ll have some free time in March to mid-April.

After all this, we’ll see what the future holds, but my current plan is to return to leading some shorter retreats and being more outward-going again.

And while I’m doing these personal retreats I shall be holding in my heart my friends and all those I have personal connections with .

Wishing you all well,


Two-Month Order Retreat in 2021

This year Vijayamala and I held a 3-month Order retreat in a rented hotel on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The retreat and venue worked very well, so we are now planning to hold another one, this time for 2 months, in Jan. and Feb. 2021. However, we are still looking for the best solution for the catering (see below). We are about to open bookings for the retreat. We already have a list of people interested from previous years, but there may be places available for others. If you want to know more, or wish to express interest in coming, please contact us at

Cooks/kitchen overseers needed. We are still looking for someone, or a couple of Order members, who would like to take on the catering. We have had some partial offers, but would like to throw it open to as wide an audience of Order members as possible, to see if there are others interested. The role would involve: 1. either overseeing the kitchen or doing some of the cooking yourself if you prefer, and 2. food ordering. There are likely to be 33 or 34 people to feed. We have menus and suppliers in place from the last retreat, but you can also come with your own ideas. We have had some offers of help, so you would be able to have regular days off over the 2 months.  If necessary, we can give you £2000 in support for performing this role over the 2 months. If you’re interested, or know of someone else who we could ask, please contact us.


Listening to the Heart

Earlier this year I had the chance to record my book about Loving-Kindness meditation, The Heart, which I wrote as part of Windhorse Publications’ series on The Art of Meditation. Now you can listen to it here on Audible.

The book gives an introduction to ways of meditating to open your heart. Although it is suitable for newcomers, I also aimed to put some depth into it, so even if you’ve been practising this meditation for years hopefully you’ll still learn something and find fresh inspiration for your practice.

The world needs loving, empathetic people if we’re to meet all the current challenges. So I’m grateful to Jinamitra (Nicolas Soames) for helping to make the book available in audio, including several guided meditations.


Tonglen – Guided Meditations

Over the years I’ve taught a lot about tonglen – the practice of love and compassion combined with awareness of the breath. Usually I’ve taken the teaching deeper with guided meditations. Now Nagesvara has kindly gone through many of the recordings of these guided meditations made between 2015-17 and indexed them for easy reference.

The index is currently only available to members of the Triratna Buddhist Order. You will find it if you use your Order login to access the free buddhist audio site and then go to this page.

Tonglen is a wonderful way of working with bodhicitta which you can use in any life situation, right up to your last conscious breath. I hope these recordings will give you several helpful ways to approach the practice.


Talks on Dealing with Overwhelm

I’m just back from leading a 3-month retreat in South Wales. (I’ll aim to post something about that very soon!) For now I want to recommend 2 talks that Taranita gave recently at the Bristol Buddhist Centre. They’re based on my article about ways to avoid overwhelm, and they provoked some lively discussion. You’ll find them on Free Buddhist Audio. The first one and the second one.

I hope you find them useful.


Padmasambhava – an Insider’s View

Last year I visited the Dublin Buddhist Centre and gave a talk called Padmasambhava Practice – a Personal Unfolding. As the title suggests, it was quite a personal take on the experience of practising visualization and mantra recitation – in this case focusing on Padmasambhava, the great teacher who was instrumental in establishing Buddhism in Tibet, and who is a kind of archetypal guru figure.

The talk was recorded, and is available to stream or download from free buddhist audio.

‘The Breath’ as an Audiobook.

I recently spent a very enjoyable day with my friend Jinamitra (Nicolas Soames). He runs Dharma Audiobooks, which has some very good recordings of Dharma material.

We were making an audio recording of my book The Breath, which is an in-depth introduction to the practice of meditating on the breath.  The result is now up on Audible. You’ll find it here.

Next week we’ll finish recording The Heart, my book on loving-kindness meditation, which is a companion to The Breath. I’ll post here when it becomes available on Audible.

All good wishes,


Guided Meditations on the System of Practice

There is a lot of audio material that you can listen to online from retreats that I’ve led over the last few years. That includes a set of 5 retreats I did at Adhisthana, exploring the different aspects of the mandala of practice that was outlined in his teaching by Sangharakshita. These are: integration, positive emotion, insight (or ‘spiritual death’), spiritual rebirth, and spiritual receptivity.

The recordings of all 5 retreats are all available on freebuddhistaudio. (The retreat on spiritual rebirth contains a lot of material on sadhana, and is restricted to Triratna Order members only.)

My friend Nagesvara has listened to the audio from all these 5 retreats and kindly put together a list of all the guided meditations from them. So if you don’t want to listen to the entire teaching, or you’re looking for a guided meditation on a particular topic, you can refer to his list.

With many thanks to Nagesvara for putting this together for us!

All good wishes,


Death of Sangharakshita

31st October 2018.

My teacher and friend since 1973, Sangharakshita died yesterday at the age of 93.

After hearing the news, last night I dreamt that I was in a large garden with several people. I looked around and there was Sangharakshita, walking down a flight of stone steps to the lawn. He looked all of his 93 years, frail, and unsteady on his feet. I was very concerned, as he clearly needed someone to help him down the steps. Before I could get to him, he arrived at the bottom step, tripped, and pitched forward on his face. As he was so frail, I felt at once that he couldn’t have survived the fall.. Several people started moving towards him to help, but I was first to get to where he was lying on his face, unmoving.

Then to my amazement, he got up, unaided. Even his glasses were still in place, unbroken. Not only that, he looked younger. The only negative effect from his fall was a slight bruising on his nose. We began talking in an animated way. He seemed to have more energy than before.

I woke up feeling light-hearted, with a strengthened feeling that for a deep Dharma practitioner the death of the body isn’t such a major event. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why my mind has felt very steady on hearing of Sangharakshita’s illness and death. I was also helped by knowing that he died in a peaceful situation, surrounded by friends who have devoted years of their lives to his care, and they reported that there was an atmosphere of profound peace around him.

I’m currently on retreat, which feels like the right place to be. It gives me a chance to absorb the death of my teacher, a friend I’ve known for 45 years, and to have some space to appreciate the fullness of his Dharma life, his practice, and the scale of his achievement. I shall be out of retreat in time to attend the funeral, and hope to see many of you there.

Sending love to all of you around the world, especially those for whom his death feels like a loss.


Dates for your 2019 Diary

A central principle of mindfulness and meditation is staying in the present and not letting mind speed off into the future. However,  being a meditation teacher involves quite a bit of future planning, in my case up to two years ahead.  So for those of you who also need to organise your lives well in advance, here is my teaching programme until the end of 2019. I’ve also added in details of a couple of smaller events for this year.

As Vijayamala doesn’t have her own website, I’ve included her teaching schedule as well.

As usual, most of these events are for members of the Triratna Buddhist Order.  I do this with regret, as it means that many people who could benefit aren’t able to attend. However, by and large, Order members have the experience to really benefit from them, and to pass on what they learn. Often I’m able to make recordings of the retreats available more widely, so at least others have access to the material. You’ll find a good collection on freebuddhistaudio.

Some of the retreat centres where these events will be held haven’t published their programmes yet, and may not be open for bookings. But you can at least put the dates in your diary…

I look forward to seeing you on an event somewhere.


2018 — More Events.

I’ve recently added a couple of weekend events at Buddhist centres to my teaching programme for next year.  Most of my teaching is done within the Triratna Order, so I try to highlight opportunities for mitras and others within Triratna to come along and practise with me.

Also Vijayamala doesn’t have her own website, so I include all her teaching engagements on my site. It’s handy to have them all in one place for reference.  I’ve now put up her 2018 events.

You can find all this in my teaching programme .

Spiritual Receptivity Retreat Recordings

Back in the summer I led another retreat for Order members on Spiritual Receptivity. The retreat focused on formless meditation/just sitting, exploring it from different angles.

The recordings are now all available here.

Many thanks to Padmakumara, Akasajoti and the folks at freebuddhistaudio for making this possible.


Some Dates for Your Diary

I’ve now updated my teaching schedule with all the retreats of more than a weekend that I have planned for 2018.

As usual, most of what I do is for Order members. I feel sad that I’m not offering more for other people, but at the moment the Order is where I feel I can have the most beneficial effect. However, at least there is a week in June that I’m doing on the Heart Sutra, the classic Buddhist wisdom text, that is open to anyone with a reasonable amount of experience of meditation. Ambaranta and Nagadipa will be my team again for this retreat, and I hope that we shall see several of you who have been on these retreats before. That week will be followed immediately by an Order retreat on The Shepherd’s Search for Mind, a classic story from the life of Milarepa.

I’m pleased to be returning to Vajraloka in North Wales, after a few years’ absence, and excited to be exploring The Ocean of True Meaning. Written by the Ninth Karmapa, it’s my favourite meditation manual, a wonderful collection of advice for teachers and students, with some fantastic quotes from great meditators of the past. I plan to go in depth into the sections on calming the mind and insight — I suspect that it may take me a few years to do, but at least I can make a good start on exploring the text in February.

Once again, I’ll be doing three weeks at Adhisthana, which allows for large numbers. In particular, the retreats I’ve led on different aspects of the mandala of spiritual practice have been very popular. So in May I’ll do another one, exploring the insight aspect of practice. I’m also delighted to have the chance to team up with Saddhanandi in September, for a retreat exploring how dukkha can become a doorway to freedom. In November, I’ll be doing another sadhana retreat, this time on Vajrasattva, and am very pleased to be co-leading it with Punyamala.

In July, I’ll head for Sweden to lead another Nordic Order Retreat, the third one I’ll have attended in recent years. I’m very much looking forward to seeing my friends in that part of the world again. Vijayamala will be coming with me for this. The theme is yet to be decided; let’s see nearer the time what feels appropriate.



Spiritual Death retreat recordings.

At the end of September, I led a retreat about insight practice, for 90 Order members, at Adhisthana. Most of the sessions were recorded, and they have now been made available on Free Buddhist Audio. (You don’t have to be an Order member to listen to them.) So if you’d like to eavesdrop on my teaching on that retreat you can follow the link here.

Very best wishes,



Retreats in 2017

My plans for 2017 are now shaping up. I’ve been commissioned by Windhorse Publications to write a book about some aspects of meditation. Writing requires quite a bit of focus, so I’m reducing the number of retreats that I shall be leading next year. I’m only doing seven, but they include quite a variety of topics.

Sadly, as usual there are hardly any for non-Order members: just a week at Rivendell in June called Love Without Limits, and then a slightly longer retreat at Metta Vihara in Holland over Xmas/New Year. (I’m still mulling over a theme for that one; it isn’t always easy to choose over a year in advance.)

That leaves five retreats for Order members. Since Sangharakshita recently encouraged the Order to return to a focus on the sadhanas (visualization and mantra recitation practice of a buddha or bodhisattva figure) that he received from his teachers, I’m doing three retreats in that area:

  1. An Avalokiteshvara sadhana retreat with Parami and Saddhaloka at Adhisthana at the end of March;
  2. A Green Tara retreat with Khemasiri in October, also at Adhisthana;
  3. I’m pleased that I shall also be returning to Padmaloka to lead a general sadhana retreat for dharmacharis in October.

Probably the biggest gathering of the Order clans will be for a Just Sitting retreat that I shall be leading at Adhisthana in July/August. That will go back into the territory of, and hopefully go deeper than, a retreat in that area that I did there in 2014.

Lastly, I’m doing an Order retreat at Rivendell in June based on a very challenging and inspiring Mind Training text called Flattening All Concepts. It’s one of the texts that I studied on my long retreat in France, and I’ve never tried to share it before, so that should be interesting.

You will find dates and details of all these retreats here on my teaching programme page.

Places on the Rivendell Order Retreat in June.

I’ve just heard that there have been some cancellations for the retreat for Order members that I’m doing at Rivendell from the 17 – 24 June. The theme is The Four Immeasurables — so lots about the open heart and positive emotion, as well as exploring how this can lead into insight territory. It would be very good to have a full house. If you’re interested, then please contact Rivendell:

Tel: 01825 733 764  (Monday to Friday, 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm.)

Rivendell Buddhist Retreat Centre,
Chillies Lane,
High Hurstwood,
East Sussex,
TN22 4AB.

Here are details about the retreat from the Rivendell website:

Immeasurables – Order Retreat

with Vessantara

June 17 – 24 | £340/310

Immeasurable love emerged as a theme in the Order retreat Vessantara led at Rivendell in 2015. In this retreat we’ll take things further, exploring all four of the Immeasurables (less commonly known in the Pali Canon as the Brahma Viharas): love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. We’ll look at what holds us back from fully experiencing them, how to set up conditions so that they come more naturally, and how much effort we need to develop them or whether we can simply open our hearts and relax into them. We’ll also look towards the horizon of our practice, to see what’s possible for us in fully experiencing them and living a life based on them. An opportunity, with the support of Rivendell with its beautiful gardens and special atmosphere, to open our hearts as wide as the sky.

Recordings of Cambridge Talks.

I recently gave 4 talks on sangha nights at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre. They were on Aspects of Going for Refuge, and you can find short descriptions of them and the audio recordings on the Free Buddhist Audio site.  It’s been a while since I’ve given more formal talks like these, and although I missed being able to speak completely spontaneously, I enjoyed crafting them a little, including the stories and imagery about the Pacific Ocean that linked together the Dharma points.

I hope you find them helpful.


Integration retreat 2016.

In February I led the fourth of a series of retreats for Order members at Adhisthana on our System of Spiritual Practice. This theme of this one was Integration, and we focused on deepening motivation and inspiration for practice, and I used meditation on the breath as a golden thread running through the week, using different meditation methods all of which include awareness of the breathing. The retreat was well-attended, with 67 of us. In the natural order of things, you would start a series on the system of spiritual practice with integration, rather than doing it fourth. So it felt a bit like putting in solid foundations after we had already built the house! Still, it worked well, and people got a lot from it.

Most of the sessions were recorded, with the exception of my introduction to the Parinirvana Day celebration, and some of the last day. It is all up on Free Buddhist Audio, although it isn’t immediately obvious how to follow the recordings through the week. The best thing is to go here.. That will give you a listing of the recordings, and then you can just follow the numberings of the days and sessions.

I hope you find them useful!


Talks in Cambridge.

I’ve just finalised details of a series of talks in Cambridge. They’ll be from the 23 Feb – 15 Mar.  They will be part of the  Tuesday sangha night programme at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre. Each evening will start at 7.30 with a short meditation, and then my talk.

The context for these talks is that one of the strong emphases of Triratna is on the centrality of going for refuge to the Three Jewels (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). However, going for refuge is just one vital aspect of a whole number of ways in which spiritual experience unfolds as you follow the Buddhist path. These talks will explore different dimensions of  that unfolding.  The titles are:

Dimensions of Going for Refuge

23 Feb: Wayfinding – How Spiritual Experience Unfolds.

01 Mar: The Empty Boat – the Insight Dimension.

08 Mar: Ferrying Across – the Altruistic Dimension.

15 Mar: Steering to the Deep – the Awareness Dimension.

Helping Order Members in Need.

I have just done a short video appeal on behalf of the Abhayaratna Trust. The trust was established to help members of the Triratna Buddhist Order who are in need of financial help. In some cases they may be in very serious financial hardship; in others they may be ‘getting by’ but unable to participate fully in the Order because they don’t have the resources to go on retreat, or attend Order gatherings.

In the video I say a little about the work and current position of the Trust, as well as remembering back 40 years to one of the talks I heard that was crucial in forming my view of the Order and the spirit that underlies it.

The appeal is directed primarily to other members of the Order, as we have the primary responsibility to care for one another. Naturally though, he Trust will be more than happy to receive a donation from anyone who is moved to help.

You can watch the video on Youtube  here, and if you’d like to make a donation then you can do that using this link.


A News Update

A short look back at the year so far, and some of the highlights, plus a couple of lowlights…

What has had the most impact on me has been the Dharma tour of New Zealand and Australia that I did with Vijayamala from February to May. It had been 15 years since I’d been in that part of the world, and it was a real joy to catch up with old friends, share a lot of Dharma, and to see how things had developed both in Triratna and more widely in society. Vijayamala and I worked hard, but none of it felt like hard work. Out of our 12 weeks in NZ/OZ, we spent 8 or 9 leading retreats. And the rest of our time was mainly taken up with giving talks, meeting groups, and seeing people individually. Everywhere we went, people were very appreciative, hospitable and generous, and we had  an excellent time. I’d had serious misgivings about accepting the invitation, because I’m very concerned about climate change and find long-haul flying very hard to justify. However, it certainly seemed as if a lot of people gained new perspectives and inspiration for their Dharma practice, so that was worth flying across the globe for. Many thanks to the Australian and  New Zealand Triratna centres for inviting us!

Coming back wasn’t much fun, as I hadn’t managed to keep up with things while I was away, so there were an awful lot of messages squatting in my inbox, and a lot to catch up with. it was a relief to go to Rivendell in June to be back on retreat for another two weeks. The first week was for ‘experienced meditators’ and focused on the Root Verses of the Six Bardos  from the Bardo Thodol (or Tibetan Book of the Dead as it’s come to be known). The weather was good; the Rivendell garden was at its lush and fragrant best. It was wonderful. The retreat gelled very quickly, helped by the fact that over half of those present had been on the equivalent retreat the year before. It was great to have that continuity of contact with people, and they formed a core of connections that made it easy for newcomers to engage with the retreat. I enjoyed studying the Root Verses, which are all about keeping a continuity of awareness through all kinds of mental states. The second week was for Order members, and was focused on some meditation instructions given by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. On the second evening we watched Brilliant Moon, a film about his life. That seemed to set everyone up for the week. He was such an extraordinary example of unconditional love! It felt as if we all sat and basked in it for the rest of the week. As usual, Ambaranta’s shrines for the 2 weeks  were a living presence, growing and transforming in dialogue with the Dharma that we were exploring.

In July I went to Greece to attend a course led by Lama Tilmann Lhundrup, who guided me in my long retreat in France. The course coincided with the height of the Greek financial crisis. The banks were all closed, and many Greeks left the course for a day to return to their villages to vote in a referendum to reject the austerity measures being imposed. (A few days later, the Greek prime minister signed up to them regardless.) Angela Merkel and her government were extremely unpopular. It was a difficult time, you might have thought, to run a course consisting mainly of Greeks, but led by a German, and attended by some of his German and Swiss students. In the event, it was great. Lama Tilmann created a very relaxed and easy sense of solidarity between everyone on the retreat. It was friendly and harmonious; people who couldn’t afford to pay for the retreat found themselves quietly being paid for. The whole event was such a contrast to what was happening around us in Greece, with tempers running high, and strong antagonisms. It shows how Dharma practice can bring people together and transcend national and political boundaries and tensions.

I came back from greece expecting to have some quiet time to myself, to write and meditate. But then a few days later, Vijayamala’s father died. He was a celebrated academic, a social anthroplogist and historian. (His obituary in The Times took up a whole page, and nearly as much in Le Monde.) Vijayamala ended up organising a very large funeral, and I needed to rally round. More recently, I’ve had another bout of catching up with correspondence and seeing people. Sitting at a computer doing emails doesn’t seem to agree with me, and my health took a dip for a while. I’ve recently had a scan, which didn’t show up anything, and my health is picking up again, so I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about.

I’ve just been at Adhisthana, leading another retreat in the series that I’ve been doing there on the Mandala of Spiritual Practice. it went very well, despite me being under the weather with a bit of a virus, and it was a real pleasure to be practising with so many Order members. I’m really loving doing these retreats. I hope to see many of you at Adhisthana next year for the last 2 retreats in the series in February and September. (Details here.)

The plan is that for October and November I’m going to stay put in Cambridge, close my door and meditate. After several very full years, it feels like time to regroup, and see where the creative flow of the Dharma wants to take me next…



Plans for 2016 (2)

Back in May I wrote saying that I was thinking seriously about how to use my time over the coming years.The last 2 or 3  months have been busier than I expected, so my reflections about the future are still rumbling on, without reaching any final conclusions. This means that for next year I’ll keep my schedule similar to the last few, although not quite so full, giving myself a little more space — as the last few years have been very full indeed. As a result, I won’t be able to be on retreat with all the people that I’d like to see, but unfortunately I haven’t mastered the Tibetan yogic art of producing multiple bodies to work in several places at once…

Here you can see my programme for next year. Sadly, there is virtually nothing for non-Order members, and several of the Order events are already full. (Though do please put yourself on the waiting list — things do change, and people often drop out for one reason or another.)  For Order members, the retreats at Adhisthana in February and September are a good bet, as Adhisthana can hold a lot of people!

So, I hope I can meet many of you on retreat next year, and apologies if you’d like to do one but can’t. I’m plotting and planning to see if things can be better in 2017…


New Pujas and Verses.

It’s been many moons since I’ve given this site the attention it deserves, but at last I’ve managed to carve out the time to take care of it: fixing broken links and adding material.

In particular, I’ve added a couple of pujas that I use on retreats and that people often want copies of. So now in the Pujas section, you will find both an Amitabha puja and various verses to Padmasambhava. I’ve also included some Morning Verses (sometimes referred to as the ‘Morning Puja’ but they don’t really constitute a puja) which work well before morning meditation, and are very good for motivating you for the day. (Many thanks to Viveka, for producing the original version of these verses!)

Go well,



Plans for 2016

I’ve recently completed a very intensive period of teaching, and can now turn my mind to planning for next year. I’ve already signed up to do two more retreats for Order members at Adhisthana in 2016, to complete the series of five retreats on The Mandala of Spiritual Practice. You will find details on my Teaching page. In addition, there will be one or two public retreats that I’ll publicise once they’re confirmed.

The issue that I keep reflecting on is: what contexts can I teach in that will bring the most long-term benefit? Over the last few years, since coming back from long retreat, I’ve focused mainly on leading retreats for Order members, with a few others for experienced practitioners, plus some weekends and other events at our public centres. All that has been very good, and the responses I’ve had have been very appreciative. However, my teaching time is running out. I just turned 65, and even if I’m fortunate to stay in reasonably good health, I probably only have at most another 10 years or so of active teaching. Do I keep doing what I’m doing, or for example do I focus on a small group of experienced people and work with them intensively, to pass on a lot of what I’ve learned to them before I die?

So I’m mulling over different ways of operating, which may have an impact on what else I do in 2016. Watch this space…


Positive Emotion Retreat – Recordings Available

In late January I led a retreat for Order members at Adhisthana, Triratna’s new(ish) central place in the UK. It was part of a series of 5 retreats that I’m doing there, in which I’m exploring all the aspects of our mandala of spiritual practice. This latest one was on Positive Emotion. In it I explored positive emotion from several angles, including how to connect more deeply with loving-kindness and compassion, the practice of tonglen, and how positive emotion practices can be used to enable us to experience life without the usual tendency to experience everything in terms of a subject/object split.

There were over 90 people on the retreat, and virtually everything was recorded, including the presentations, the guided meditations and the pujas and rituals. You don’t have to be an Order member to listen to the recordings. So if you fancy spending a week on retreat with me, admittedly at one remove, and you’d like a glimpse into how things are when Order members come together to practise meditation and positive emotion, then you can find the recordings here on freebuddhistaudio.

With many thanks to Hattie Johnson for the editing work, and the guys at freebuddhistaudio for making it available. (Do consider giving them a donation, so they can continue to make all this material available.)


Unusual Meditative Experiences

I’ve just written an article for Shabda looking at how we as an Order respond to unusual meditative experiences, and to people whose main ways of experiencing are non-rational: in terms of imagination, intuition, energy or mysticism. These kinds of people don’t always receive appropriate help and guidance when they present their experiences to Order members. I’ve written the article partly in the form of a quiz. Read it here and see how you do…

Abhayaratna – Helping Order members in Difficulties.

At the recent European Order Convention at Wymondham I did a short appeal for the Abhayaratna Trust. The Trust is set up to help members of the Triratna Buddhist Order who are in need. Some Order members struggle to meet their basic living costs, while others don’t have enough to enable them to pursue their Dharma practice or to play an active part in the life of the Order.

You can watch the video of what I said on Youtube here.

I think Abhayaratna is a really valuable cause, helping people who in many cases have given their lives to help establish Buddhism in the West. If you’d like to know more then you could visit the Trust’s website.


Spiritual Receptivity Retreat Recordings

It’s taken a few months, but at last the recordings are available from the  retreat on Spiritual Receptivity that I led for Order members at Adhisthana in February. It was a really good retreat with over 50 people. A lot of my retreats are either for Order members or fully-booked. So here’s your chance to eavesdrop on virtually all the sessions I led on the retreat, over 12 hours of material. 

The theme is spiritual receptivity, which is at the heart of the Order’s mandala of spiritual practice. There were lots of aspects I could have focused on, such as spiritual friendship, but as it was a meditation retreat I concentrated on Just Sitting, which is the meditation (if you can call Just Sitting a meditation practice) that is particularly used to allow our receptivity to unfold.

You’ll find the recordings on FreeBuddhistAudio here.

Greetings from Sweden, where I’m about to lead a retreat for 30 Order members from the Nordic countries.




New-Look Website

Over recent weeks Satyadarshin has completely revamped this site – both what you see and some of the behind-the-scenes stuff as well. He has given the site a whole new look, and sorted out various problems and issues. The result is something that is much cleaner and easier to use. One important improvement is that the contact page is working once more, so you can get  in touch with me via this site again.

I’m really grateful to him for all this work. If you need some web design (or graphic design work for that matter) then do take a look at Satyadarshin’s site.

Life is very full…

Last week I calculated that I was entering a period in which i would only have ten weeks of programmed events in the next twelve. Basically it is one good thing after another, with the occasional two or three days to draw a breath, do some washing, repack and reorganise and then dive into the next event. So if I don’t reply to your email, etc. then please bear with me.

This period started with a week at our place in Cambridge on Emotional Intelligence in Practice, which I enjoyed. Vijayamala and I don’t do much for mitras, so it was particularly good to have Jon and Sarah from the Peterborough group come and join us for a week. The morning that retreat finished we were off to Adhisthana to attend a weekend discussing new development sin the area of insight practice in Triratna, ably facilitated by Achara and Viveka. I found it a very friendly, tiring, creative and frustrating meeting. I loved being with a lot of very old friends in the Order, and struggled with not sleeping much and being in meetings that were pretty much non-stop all day. I appreciated the creativity of Achara’s and Viveka’s facilitation and the way everyone engaged with the theme, and I felt some frustration at how long it takes for new developments to be discussed and decided on in a large international sangha like Triratna.

On Thursday I leave for a trip to Germany with Vijayamala, to co-lead the first weekend of the Easter retreat at Vimaladhatu retreat centre, to make my annual visit to see Dagyab Rinpoche, and to go to Berlin to lead a retreat for Order members.

Sangharakshita on Just Sitting

During the recent retreat that I led at Adhisthana on Spiritual Receptivity, I discussed how little Sangharakshita has said about Just Sitting (formless meditation) over the years. In the recent compilation of his discussions of meditation, which runs to over 700 pages, there is only a tiny handful of references to it. By and large, he has preferred to leave it as a non-practice, a non-conceptual ice wall without any handholds or footholds for the intellect.

However, he has spelt out in very clear terms what true Just Sitting is about. In a discussion during the seminar on Rechungpa’s Repentance from the Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, he gives a clear description of the state of ‘existential relaxation’ that is involved.

I shared the passage with the retreatants and several people said they found it helpful, so I’ve put it up here.


January News

This month I’ve been staying put in Cambridge, with a couple of forays to London. It has been a busier time than I’d hoped, as I’d wanted to do some writing and have some space before February when I launch into more teaching and events again. Anyway, I’ve managed to complete a couple of articles, both of them follow-ups to articles I wrote last year, one about post-insight practice and the other about rebirth. You can read the new article about Post-Insight Practice and the Khemaka Sutta here, and More on Rebirth here.

My two days in London were very enjoyable. On the first Vijayamala and I had another private Qigong lesson with Master Lam. I’m very impressed with his energy, and he’s made some very helpful changes to my Qigong practice . After that we went to Wimbledon to have dinner with some very old friends of my family.

The second day was for a meeting with Dhammarati, Tejananda and Kamalashila, to talk about the possibility of introducing more direct experience/direct pointing methods into Triratna. These things are coming in anyway, but without yet having any agreed place in our system of practice, and that causes tensions as it disrupts the sense of a commonality of practice within Triratna. I’m hopeful that by the end of this year we shall have widespread agreement on the usefulness of these methods. It’s difficult as, with the speed at which things move on the Internet, new developments can happen very fast, while a large organisation like Triratna moves quite slowly, especially as we like to operate by consensus where possible. However, it’s worth working to get that broad agreement about matters of practice, as that safeguards our sense of unity. Whatever happens, I very much enjoyed spending a day talking about meditation with Dhammarati, Tejananda and Kamalashila.

Lastly, just as Facebook is starting to become rather outdated, with young people moving to other platforms, I’ve finally joined. I have to confess that I’ve only done so because there are some Facebook groups that I want to be part of. So I doubt whether I shall be very active or post much. But if you’re interested you’ll find me here.

I hear from Adhisthana that there are still places left if any of you who are Order members want to come to my retreat on Spiritual Receptivity from the 21st – 27th February. The retreat will focus on the Just Sitting practice.

December News

Update: Vijayamala and I have now finalised details of two more small retreats for Order members in August and September. One is on Just Sitting and Insight; the other on Training the Mind in Bodhicitta. If you’re interested, you’ll find details here.

I’m now in the middle of leading a series of three small retreats with Vijayamala in Cambridge. The first two went well, and the final one starts tomorrow. That will be my last programmed retreat until February. I’m pleased to be coming to the end of such a full year still feeling energetic and very much enjoying leading things.

If you’re an Order member, then do be aware that I’m leading a retreat on Spiritual Receptivity and Just Sitting at Adhisthana in February. Most of the retreats I lead book up very quickly. However, Adhisthana can take up to 120 people, so if you have ben wanting to come on one of my retreats but have found them all booked up, the Adhisthana retreat is your chance! Unfortunately, as they only opened their doors a few months ago, they are still getting their systems organised, so if you go to their Events page you won’t find a mention of anything in 2014. But the retreat is very definitely happening, from the 21 – 27 February (6 days), and you can book for it now! For booking details go here.

November News

Update: You will find my five talks for the International Urban retreat, mentioned below, here at You may need to register (it’s free).

The last couple of months have been rich and full again. After a bit of time at home, in mid-September I launched into another round of leading events: an enjoyable week’s retreat in West Wales with a group of Order members, most of whom I had ordained; a few days in Bristol, catching up with friends and doing a day at the Buddhist centre on working with thought chains in meditation; a week at Dhanakosa with a lovely group of people, exploring reflection and meditation; then two weeks in Spain with the five men who are doing a one-year Order retreat at Uttaraloka. Just at the beginning of all that, I caught a very unpleasant virus, with possibly the worst cough I’ve had in my life. Anyway, I managed to keep going, and my two weeks in the fresh air and sunshine of the Spanish mountains finally saw it off.

During that time I also managed to write a couple of articles for Shabda, the Triratna Order’s monthly communication to itself. One was about the implications for your Buddhist life if you come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as rebirth. The other was about post-insight practice. I’ve very lightly edited them for a wider audience and you will find them here.

Now I’m back in Cambridge, again trying to do something about my correspondence mountain (I’m starting to need oxygen and sherpas…). I’m taking advantage of this period at home to lead a short course for the Cambridge centre. It’s all about strengthening motivation. You can listen to parts of it on freebuddhistaudio here.

I’m also contributing to the Triratna International Urban Retreat, (Nov. 09-17)  which is called Blazing Like the Sun  and is all about loving-kindness. I’ve done five short talks as part of the online resources accompanying the week. I’ll also be answering questions online a couple of times during the week.

Lastly, if you’re an Order member, do consider coming on the retreat at Adhisthana that I’m doing in February. As events I lead all book up very fast (the two weeks I’m doing at Rivendell next September are already fully booked), this retreat at Adhisthana is a very good opportunity. There isn’t any publicity for it on the Adhisthana website yet, but it will run from the 21 – 27 Feb.