The aim of this retreat is to integrate the practice of meditation with the ideas and doctrines that support and illuminate such practice. As the week unfolds, Stephen’s morning seminars will offer a broad perspective on Buddhist teaching by means of critical interpretation of classical texts. Buddhist ideas will also be contrasted and compared with other religious, philosophical, literary and scientific insights.
A study of the Buddha's understanding of God (Brahma) as found in texts of the Pali Canon. The Buddha was an ironic ATHEIST, who did not take a fanatic position against God. This is followed by a reflection on the idea of BUDDHANATURE, starting with its origins in the Pali Canon and seeing how it evolves in later Buddhist thought in ways that both complement and contradict the early tradition.
A consideration of the Buddhist understanding of self as a process, based on passages from the Pali Canon. A critique of "perfection" as the aim of the teachings, based on the understanding of "freedom" as found in the Padhana Sutta. Followed by a reflection on the Buddha's SOCIAL VISION. This leads to comments on the nature of Buddhism itself as a religious institution, and concludes with a call for a CULTURE OF AWAKENING in a secular world.
What is compassion and how do we open to our compassionate heart? And as we let GO OF our self interest AND demands ON LIFE TO BE THE WAY WE WANT IT TO BE and turn toward our own pain and other's pain, compassion can awaken in our hearts.