Each year, we determine the programme for the following year. Here are the themes and dates for 2018.
Led by Lama Chonyi
Saturday 3rd February to Saturday 28th April 2018
The Buddha of Boundless Light, Amitabha, is associated with Dewachen, the world of Great Bliss. Dewachen is the expression of Amitabha's activity, the fruit of his wishes to manifest a pure world accessible to all, where nothing hinders progress to enlightenment.
Meditation on Amitabha allows us to create the causes for ourselves and others to be reborn in this pure land and there attain enlightenment. Four conditions enable rebirth in Dewachen: developing bodhicitta, being familiar with the description of the pure land, accumulating merit, and then dedicating that merit through the aspiration to be born there. If we are able to develop these conditions every day during our lifetime and so train ourselves, when we die, we will perceive directly the pure land of Dewachen without having to go through the intermediate state, or bardo.
During this retreat, the instructions for the short and the long Amitabha practice will be given, based on the commentary of Chagme Rinpoche. We will also study the long Dewachen wishing prayer, and so discover the qualities of the pure land and the benefits of being reborn there by cultivating the four conditions. Different meditations relevant to the moment of death will be explained, along with the various stages of the bardo, the state between death and the next life.
By the end of the retreat, those participating will we able to do the practice of Amitabha with a fuller understanding of all its dimensions, know the qualities of the pure land of Dewachen and the benefits of being born there, and appreciate how this practice will be of great help at the moment of death in our progress towards enlightenment.
Meditation from Head to Foot
Led by Lama Rinchen
Thursday 3rd May to Saturday 28th July 2018
The short lineage prayer beginning, "Great Dorje Chang..." has long been used in the Kagyu tradition to evoke a well-rounded meditation practice in which devotion and renunciation have decisive parts to play in the realisation of the nature of mind. With devotion as its head and renunciation for feet, the body of our meditation will have both the perspective and the mobility to take us to enlightenment.
The prayer points to the key aspects of the meditation practice formulated by Gampopa and handed down through the lineage. We will be studying the commentary of Chagme Rinpoche, which includes the practice text used during the retreat. The commentaries of 15th Karmapa, 8th Karmapa and Jamgon Kongtrul will help us deepen our appreciation of the multiple meanings behind the prayer, and the meditation instructions of Gendun Rinpoche will be our practical reference throughout the three months of retreat.
By the end of the retreat, people will have a better grasp of how and why meditation is not just a body on a cushion but needs head and feet to progress. Through the practice of authentic meditation teachings, both from acknowledged lineage holders of the past and from the mahamudra master Gendun Rinpoche in more recent times, those participating in the retreat will leave with an ability to meditate that is well-grounded in tradition.
Cutting through Ego-clinging: the practice of Chod
Led by Lama Rinchen
Monday 3rd September to Monday 19th November 2018
The daily practice of the gift of the self (Lujin) allows us, according to our capacities and their stage of development, to reduce the influence of self-centredness, cultivate true love and compassion, accumulate a vast amount of merit, use the wisdom of emptiness to cut through ignorance, and finally access mahamudra meditation, the heart of our lineage.
This ritual is the support for numerous profound meditations, for which the detailed instructions were transmitted to Lama Rinchen by Gendun Rinpoche.
During this retreat, Lama Rinchen will transmit the commentary of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. We will be studying the ritual (music and tunes), but also practising the meditation connected with this practice based on the Prayer to Machikma. This is why most of the sessions will be done individually in one's own room. This is not a group retreat, even if the practice will be done together once a day.
This retreat is not for beginners.
It is intended for people used to formal practice, who are at ease with recitations in Tibetan (phonetics) and visualisations. It is preferable to have some experience of meditation. We will not be considering the practice at all from a "psychological" point of view, but purely in accordance with the traditional Buddhist transmission where our only aim is to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
Looking ahead to 2019
There will be two 3-month retreats in 2019, from the beginning of February until the end of April, and from the beginning of May until the end of July. There will be no 3-month retreat in the autumn of 2019 because of the beginning of the three-year retreat on 20th November 2019. The 3-month retreats will resume in February 2020.
The themes of these retreats will be announced in due course.