The Way of Compassion – A series of weekend programmes

These retreats will explore how we can work with our hearts and minds to go beyond our ordinary self-centred obsessions and anxieties, opening up to other people and the world. They will be based on the Buddhist teachings of the Mahayana – the ‘Great Vehicle’ – but are fresh and relevant to our lives today. You are welcome to join any of these weekends as a one-off programme or to deepen your experience by following the whole series.

Please click on each title for more information, and to register.

 

Transforming Difficult Circumstances into Wakefulness 25-27 October 2019
Teacher: Jane Hope

An Introduction to the Lojong Teachings

We will be looking at the negative habitual patterns that make our lives painful. We will examine how these patterns run our lives and cause problems for ourselves and other people. When we become aware of what we are doing, these habitual patterns lose their power and problems become an opportunity to wake up.

We will be studying and practising what are known as the Lojong teachings which are a wonderfully effective way of seeing through our own blind spots. Lojong has been taught and practised extensively by all the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism for centuries and it is these teachings that have given genuine Tibetan spirituality its warmth, compassion and good humour.

 

Awakening Love and Compassion 7-8 December 2019
Teacher: Shastri Tessa Watt

This weekend we will explore how we can open up fully to our own experience and to our interconnection with others.  We will work with the practice of the ‘Four Limitless Ones’ and in particular with the first two: loving-kindness and compassion. These simple and powerful techniques have been used for centuries in Buddhist traditions but are now widely practiced in mainstream settings like workplaces and schools –  and even shown by researchers to have multiple health benefits!

As we deepen this practice over the weekend, it is like massaging our heart, making it softer, more pliable. We will explore how we can tap into our own source of happiness and find compassion for our pain – and that of others. We will stay curious about what helps us to open up and what closes us. What do love and compassion feel like in the body? Do we have limits – can we wish well for ourselves, for strangers, for difficult people? Can we touch into what Buddhists call ‘awake heart’ – a tenderness and aliveness that radiates naturally if we let it?

This weekend is suitable for newcomers to these practices, and also for people who are familiar with them and would like to deepen their experience. There is no need to have a particular interest in Buddhism: if you are a practitioner of secular mindfulness, this ‘heartfulness’ is a natural next step in your journey. It would be helpful to have some experience of basic sitting meditation or mindfulness practice.

 

Awakening Joy and Equanimity 25-26 January 2020
Teacher: Peter Conradi

The Four Immeasurables are often taught in the following order: Love, Compassion, Joy and then Equanimity. However one tradition privileges the contemplation of Equanimity since this can help stabilize the mind; equanimity  can therefore  offer a doorway to the other contemplations. And in fact each helps the others. Love and compassion undercut indifference; joy and equanimity cut attachment. All four work together as aspects of our journey.

We will start by recapitulating the teachings given earlier on  by Shastri Tessa Watt on the first two limitless ones – Love and Compassion. So it is not necessary to have attended the first weekend in order to join this second one.

These practices  are called Immeasurable  because there is no limitation to their depth or scope. “The aim of loving-kindness… is to experience peace and to cause others to become peaceful. The aim of compassion… is to separate the cause of pain from the pain itself. The aim of joy is to help people experience pleasure without causing themselves pain… The aim of equanimity is to free people from passion and aggression.” It is good to start by generating these for our own benefit, and by acknowledging and appreciating our own suffering, before moving outwards towards others. These simple and powerful techniques have been used for centuries in Buddhist traditions and are now widely practiced in mainstream settings like workplaces and schools. They are skilful means to arousing egolessness, compassion and to awakening the heart.

This weekend is suitable for newcomers to these practices, and also for people who are familiar with them and would like to deepen their experience. There is no need to have a particular interest in Buddhism: if you are a practitioner of secular mindfulness, this ‘heartfulness’ is a natural next step in your journey. It would be helpful to have some experience of basic sitting meditation or mindfulness practice.

 

Relative Bodhicitta 7-8 March 2020
Teacher: Shastri Merlin Cox

Details to follow…

 

 

 

Absolute Bodhicitta: Emptiness and Compassion 25-26 April 2020
Teacher: Jim O’Neill

The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions  and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” Ven. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

To glimpse ‘Shunyata’ or ‘Absolute Bodhicitta’, is to simultaneously experience freedom, confidence and a sense of relaxed completeness. When discussing Absolute or Ultimate Bodhicitta Trungpa Rinpoche draws our attention to the Paramita of Generosity, to openness and to the practice of fully giving of oneself both to others and to each situation that arises. By drawing this connection, Rinpoche grounds that which is often viewed as unattainable and mystical and locates it in our moment to moment, daily practice as we relate and work with both ourselves and others. 

 

Meditation And Action In The World 13-14 June 2020
Teacher: tbc