Here’s some details of the draft programme for the 2012 International Retreat, all revolving around the theme of ‘Imagining the Buddha’. There’ll be plenty else going on of course: meditation, shrines, food, story-telling, the Kids Area, and more. Amongst all that, the main Dharma input will be -
Talks Ratnaguna: The Voice of the Buddha - often we might imagine what the Buddha looked like, or we reflect on what he taught. But in his talk Ratnaguna will try to imagine the voice of the Buddha - how he spoke and communicated, how his voice sounded. What would it have been like to listen to the Buddha?
Kamalashila: The Mandala of the historical Buddha - In this talk Kamalashila will look at the teachings and practices of Shakyamuni and envision them as a “mandala” - a symbolic circle that we can travel round in the course of our day, or in the course of our spiritual lives.
Dhammadinna: The Richly Endowed Buddha of the Southern Realm - following on from Kamalashila laying out a mandala, Dhammadinna will explore the southern realm - looking at the generous, abundant, golden, noble qualities of the Buddha, with a talk full of stories and imagery.
Expect to find these posted as soon as possible after they’re given. We’ve dug into the FreeBuddhistAudio archives and posted three talks online aleady - just to get you started! _______________________
Dhammadinna: Encountering the Buddha We’ll be studying 3 Pali Suttas - Dhaniya the Herdsman, Farmer Bharadvaja, and The Snake. They are all from the Sutta Nipata: Dhaniya = Snp 1.2, Farmer Bharadvaja = Snp 1.4 and the Snake = Snp 1.1. They are all short suttas; I will present them and then we can discuss.
Ratnaguna: Reflecting on the Buddha We’ll do both reflection and contemplation as the days go by. We’ll try different methods of reflecting - ‘reflecting out loud’ in pairs, plus writing and walking. We’ll also do more meditative reflection (contemplation), trying different ways of reflecting on the Buddha (Buddhanussati) - on his qualities, his form, and even perhaps his voice. Ratnaguna’s the author of ‘The Art of Reflection’, published by Windhorse.
Vishvapani: Looking at the Buddha We’ll be reading some of the Discourses (Suttas) that record accounts of the Buddha’s life: his journey to Enlightenment; the Enlightenment itself; and his teaching. We’ll look at what history tells us about the Buddha and explore our own connections with him. Vishvapani’s the author of Gautama Buddha: the life and teachings of the Awakened One.
Saddhanandi and Singhamati: The True Individual Each day we’ll engage with material from the morning’s talk, using it to explore the qualities of the Buddha; the nature of Insight as freedom from ego-grasping; and the Path of Individuality. We will use a mixture of short presentations, discussion and reflection exercises.
Ratnadharini: Aligning ourselves with the Buddha I’ll be picking up the theme of each talk, and using other material, to explore: the presence of the Buddha; the flavour of his teaching; and ways in which we can align ourselves to his presence and teaching.
Sona and Vidyamala: Entering the Mandala of Radiance Sangharakshita has spoken of the twin pulls of attachment to the worldly (the conditioned) and freedom (the unconditioned) that are continually exerting their influences upon us. Using the framework of the Five Stages of the Triratna System of Practice (Integration, Positive Emotion, Spiritual Receptivity, Spiritual Death, and Spiritual Rebirth), Sona and Vidyamala will explore ways we can free ourselves of the restrictive gravitational pull of attachment to the mundane and worldly, and let go into a ‘Mandala’ of clear radiance. The workshop will include a talk by Sona exploring how our attachment to views limits our ability to fulfil our potential. The workshop will also introduce ways to become more sensitive to the gravitational pull of freedom within our meditation practice and daily life.
Vajradaka: Envisioning our Path to Enlightenment An experiential workshop-style group stimulating our potential for enlightenment, including a practical approach to creative development, developing our imaginative and intuitive connection to personal and universal metaphors and symbols, and looking at doorways to ever deeper and more meaningful paths to the Buddha Mind. Check Vajradaka’s ‘Creative Engagement’ website for more about his approach.
Evening Stories: Lokabandhu - Kisagotami Kavyasiddhi - Jataka tale about Sushil the Millionaire Miser Ratnaguna - to be decided
Expect to find ‘DIY videos’ of these, acted out by the Kids Area crew! _________________________
Satyalila: creative writing Satyalila and Danasamudra will lead ‘Wolf-at-the-Door‘-style creative writing workshops - a fun and accessible way to engage with the theme of the retreat. Absolutely no experience of anything required! These workshops are a great way to cultivate the imagination - or coax it out to play. Writing has been a key part of Satyalila’s practice for over 15 years and Danasamudra has decades of experience of teaching creative writing and is a published author.”
Mahasukha: Soulful Mantra Singing Uplifting and fun group harmony African singing and mantra chanting for all with djembe drumming and the unique and inspiring Mahasukha touch. We’ll learn mantras including a beautiful and evocative Shakyamuni mantra which we’ll chant in the evening pujas. A joyful, meditative and devotional experience. Beautiful harmonies, beautifully simple, simply magic!
Mahasukha is based in Brighton UK and leads uplifting Soulful Singing workshops (inc every year at Buddhafield Festival) and Beauty of Mantra ‘workshops/rituals’. He’s recorded two albums including Longing which is an album of mantras - enjoy it now! He also co-leads the Call of Beauty retreats at Dhanakosa.
Akasati: Rituals Group Get hands-on and contribute practically to the pujas and rituals on the event. A great way to contribute by building shrines, playing an instrument, or simply - most importantly - being willing to help out where needed (don’t worry if you don’t feel you have a specific skill to offer). We’ll also have opportunities for discussion on the theme and checking-in together.
Expect to find photos of these and other Buddha shrines from around Triratna, all gateways to help us in our Imagining of the Buddha…