Nature of Mind Events.

This is a quick note to make you aware that I’m doing a series of events for Order members as part of the Nature of Mind programme that Adhisthana is running this year.

There is an introductory online evening on 1st April, an online day event on the 3rd, and a week’s retreat, residential and online, at Rivendell from the 17th – 24th of June.  You can find more information on the Adhisthana website here. (Scroll down towards the bottom of the page and you’ll find them.)

I hope to see you on one (or all!) of them.

Very best wishes,



Six Element Practice Retreat – Revised Dates.

I’ve just revised the dates for the Order retreat that I’m leading at Adhisthana next April. It’s on the Six Element Practice, as the first in a short series of retreats on Unfolding Paths to Insight. I’m really looking forward to doing it, as I think the practice can be unpacked and approached in many different ways, both as a series of reflections and using a direct experience approach. I want to see how far we can take it. I also hope that both fans of the practice and those who have never done it or have been turned off by it will all sign up, in person or online, to help us find ways into the heart of the practice that can work for everyone.

The new dates are the 14th – 22nd April. So it goes over the Easter Bank holiday, starting on the Thursday evening before Good Friday (which in the UK is a bank holiday) and finishes on the following Friday morning.

You’ll find details of how to book on my Programme page.

All good wishes,


More Retreats in 2022

I’ve now finalised some more retreats for 2022, and if you look at my teaching programme you’ll find details of four more retreats.

In April, I’ll be back at Adhisthana, to lead the first of a planned series of retreats for Order members on some of the insight practices that Sangharakshita recommended. It’s not enough to learn a particular method of insight meditation, to have full confidence in it we need a clear sense that practising it sincerely will take us deeper and deeper into the heart of things. In each retreat, we’ll be looking at how a basic method can do this. The first retreat in the series, in April, will explore the Six Element Practice from this point of view.  This retreat is currently advertised as residential, but I’m hoping that Adhisthana can add an online element to it, so that Order members who can’t make it to Herefordshire UK can still participate ‘live’.

Currently, the only retreat I’m doing for non-Order members next year is at Rivendell, in East Sussex, UK. It’s called Monkey Mind. Pre-pandemic, I led many retreats at Rivendell, and I’m really happy to be getting back there next June. I’m even happier that Ambaranta will be part of my team, as we’ve done many retreats together. (Sadly, Nagadipa can’t join us, but Vijayamala has agreed to step in and organise.)

My usual pattern has been to do two retreats back-to-back at Rivendell, and next year will be the same. Once we’ve gone beyond monkey mind the second week, for Order members, will explore the nature of mind. That will be a hybrid retreat, residential and online.

Then in October I’ll be back at Adhisthana to give talks and participate in other ways in their first Sadhana Convention for Order members. I’m really excited about it, and hope we can have a large gathering to explore the riches of sadhana together.

As I said, details of all these retreats can be followed up from my retreat programme. There are likely to be further additions to the programme, probably online retreats, although a large chunk of my time for leading retreats next year is taken up with leading a 2-month retreat in South Wales in January to February.

I hope our paths can cross on a retreat sometime next year!

With all good wishes,


Cancelling Rivendell Online Retreat.

Sadly, I’ve just had to cancel what I was going to do for Rivendell online this month as I’ve had some health problems. I’m sorry not to be able to run anything for Rivendell this year, and not to see all of you who were booked to attend.

I should be through these health difficulties in a month or two, and am looking forward to the three retreats I’m doing in the second half of the year.

With all good wishes,


Ocean of True Meaning Retreat Cancelled.

Sadly, I’ve just had to cancel the online Ocean of True Meaning retreat that was due to begin this Friday. I’ve had some health problems over the last few weeks, and am not currently in good enough shape to do it.

I’m hoping  these health issues won’t take long to resolve, and that the rest of my programme for the year  can go ahead as planned. It includes another retreat on the Ocean of True Meaning at Vajraloka from the 19th – 28th November.

All good wishes,



Seven Point Mind Training part 2

I am very much looking forward to the second of the 2 retreats I am leading for Order members  at Adhisthana on 7 point mind training, which starts next Thursday, the 18th March. (Although it’s the second of two, you don’t need to have attended the first one. )

In this retreat will be looking more deeply into the wisdom aspect, as well as themes like how to practice at the time of death, how you know your practice is on the right track, and lots more practical pieces of advice on bringing bodhichitta into daily life.

If you would like to join us you can book with Adhisthana by clicking here: seven-point-mind-training-part-2

I hope to see you there!

All good wishes


A Thousand Years of Wisdom

(Geshe Chekawa, compiler of the Seven-Point Mind Training)

I spent the days up to New Year co-leading the online Love Without Limits retreat with Advayasiddhi.  It was great that over 180 of you could join us.  I also really enjoyed our meditation after the retreat to see in the New Year at midnight UK time. It was very good having some Australians, who were already 11 hours into their New Year, coming to join us for a second celebration!

Now I’m doing a few weeks of personal retreat at home. I’ve mainly been meditating, but today I dug out some books and folders of notes on the Seven-Point Mind Training. I’ll be reading a little each day to feed that inspiration into my retreat. It will prepare me for the two online retreats for Order members that I’m leading soon on this material. (Dates are 30 Jan – 04 Feb and 18 – 23 Mar).

The Mind training is a treasure trove of skilful methods for working with your thoughts and emotions, especially in difficult times, which have been used for a thousand years. So it feels very appropriate to be doing retreats on it now.  I’ve practised aspects of it since the 1970s, and at times it has felt like a lifesaver, or a ‘mindsaver’. I also spent the first six months of my three-year retreat working intensively with it, and came to appreciate its subtlety, practicality and power even more.

So I hope to see many friends in the Order (and some of you I haven’t met yet!) on one or both of these retreats.  The retreats will be run from Adhisthana, and if you want to know more or would like to book you’ll find details in their programme.

With all good wishes for your health and Dharma practice,


Kathleen Raine: “Amo Ergo Sum” 

Kathleen Raine:

Amo Ergo Sum 

Because I love

The sun pours out its rays of living gold

Pours out its gold and silver on the sea.

Because I love

The earth upon her astral spindle winds

Her ecstasy-producing dance.

Because I love

Clouds travel on the winds through wide skies,

Skies wide and beautiful, blue and deep.

Because I love

Wind blows white sails,

The wind blows over flowers, the sweet wind blows.

Because I love

The ferns grow green, and green the grass, and green

The transparent sunlit trees.

Because I love

Larks rise up from the grass

And all the leaves are full of singing birds.

Because I love

The summer air quivers with a thousand wings,

Myriads of jewelled eyes burn in the light.

Because I love

The iridescnt shells upon the sand

Takes forms as fine and intricate as thought.

Because I love

There is an invisible way across the sky,

Birds travel by that way, the sun and moon

And all the stars travel that path by night.

Because I love

There is a river flowing all night long.

June Online Retreats for Rivendell

For years now, I’ve spent two very happy weeks each June at Rivendell Retreat Centre in Sussex, with its beautiful garden. Next year, I shall be doing my two weeks for them as usual, but with Covid  and the uncertainty about how things will be next year, even with vaccines being rolled out, I’ve agreed to do them online.

As usual, one of the two retreats will be for experienced meditators, which is one of the very rare opportunities for me to share a retreat with those of you who aren’t Order members.  It will run from the 12th – 17th June, and is called Centre of the Sunlit Sky. For more details, see here.

The other online retreat, for Order members,  will be a new departure for me, taking extracts from a Mahayana sutra as the basis for a meditation retreat.  We’ll be looking at one of the great classics of the Mahayana tradition, the Vimalakirti Nirdesa, on which Sangharakshita gave an important series of lectures in the 1970s, and taking some of its images and insights as deeply as possible into meditation. Dates are 19th – 24th June, and you’ll find full details here.

I’m hoping that I shall be able to go to Rivendell and do the retreat from there. I’m sorry that we won’t have a full house of people there, but it’s great that the catchment area for the retreats is now the whole world…

All good wishes,


Last Call for the Ocean; Still Time for Limitless Love.

A little note to remind those of you who are Order members that the 5-day online retreat on The Ocean of True Meaning, starts on Monday. It’s a classic meditation manual from the Tibetan Mahamudra tradition, and we’ll be using extracts from the shamatha and vipashyana sections as the basis for our explorations together. If you want to know more, or you want to book then the details are here.

After that, the next public event I’ll be doing will be an online retreat for experienced meditators in the days leading up to New Year.  I’m really happy to be able to offer something that isn’t just for Order members, and also that Advayasiddhi will be joining me. The theme is Love Without Limits, which feels very appropriate at  this time. Many of us are faced with physical constraints because of Covid, so it’s vital that we discover how our hearts can expand and become increasingly free, whatever the conditions. To find out more about the retreat, go here.

Both retreats are being run on a dana  (donation) basis. I hope to see many of you online!

All good wishes,


Three Online Retreats

After thoroughly enjoying leading the online retreat on the Bodhicitta Practice last month, I’ve signed up to do 3 more online retreats. There’s one I’ve already advertised here,  for Order members under the auspices of Adhisthana, starting next Saturday. For full details see here.

Then early in December I’ll be exploring sections from The Ocean of True Meaning, one of my favourite Buddhist texts, again for Order members. You can find out more about that here.

And in the period leading up to New Year I’ll be doing the main teaching on a retreat with Advayasiddhi for experienced meditators called Love Without Limits.  (Details here.)

As the UK and other places go back into lockdown, the connecting thread of all 3 retreats is going deeper into our hearts, finding the openness, freedom and connection with others that is always there, even when we’re physically isolated from one another.

I’m really looking forward to these three events, and hope to see many of you there.

With all good wishes,



November Retreat – Arrangements for Aus/NZ

Next month I shall be leading another online retreat for Order members, following on from the very successful one on the Bodhicitta Practice we held last month, which had 135 participants. Dates are the 7th – 12th of November, and we’ll be going deeper into meditation practices on the bodhisattva path. (For full details see here.)

Like last time, we’re making special arrangements for people in Australia and New Zealand.  I’ve shifted one of the teaching sessions to make it easier for you to participate live. And Dharmananda will again be ‘convening’ and helping arrange things so you can meet in groups at times that work for you. Last time, he and Maitripala did it between them, but this time she isn’t available (hope the house move goes well!), so  Dharmananda will have another sidekick.

It was great seeing so many of you on the last retreat,  I hope you’ll make it this time.

All good wishes,



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,


‘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,


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.


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,



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.


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.




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 2013

I had a very full time over the last few weeks. Over Xmas/New Year, I led a 2-week retreat for men at Padmaloka retreat centre in Norfolk, on the theme of the Mandala of the Five Buddhas. That went very well. It was very good to lead a retreat at Padmaloka again, where I lived for six years in the 1980s, when I was secretary to Sangharakshita. The Padmaloka team create a very good atmosphere, and the shrine room with its large image of Shakyamuni is a great space for practice. I had Ratnaprabha and Jinapalita supporting me. Ratnaprabha and I gave 11 talks altogether, which will appear in due course on FreeBuddhistAudio. On New Year’s Eve, as part of our ritual Jinapalita unleashed the pyromaniac within, and we had the most fantastic bonfire. There were a great bunch of people on the retreat, including a lot of Order members.

After that I went to Taraloka Retreat Centre  in Wales to attend the Triratna European Chairs’ Assembly meeting. I don’t have that kind of organisational responsibility these days, but I’d been invited to do a day on insight practice and to lead their shrineroom activities. I enjoyed the chance to explore Taraloka, the canal walks and the haunting area of bog nearby; and the Chairs made me very welcome. On the way back from that event, I crossed paths in Birmingham with Vijayamala, and we led a day at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre on prapancha – mental proliferation – which is a major issue in meditation, particularly for newer people. When you look deeply into what causes it, you come right to the roots of self-clinging, which is what makes our lives a misery.

Now I’m home in Cambridge for a little while, in semi-retreat: spending more time meditating, but also gradually munching my way through the backlog of work and correspondence that has built up while I’ve been away.

Wishing you all a very healthy, creative and fulfilling year of Dharma practice!


[For earlier news, see the News Archive.]