Action from Depth:
an engaged Buddhist training for ecological action
21 – 28 September 2015
Venue: Eden Rise
Personal and social transformation are bound intimately together. If spiritual practice fails to face the enormous ecological, social and economic crises of our times, it runs the risk of falling into narcissistic escapism. At the same time, attempts to engage with these challenges without the resources of deep awareness, self-knowledge, and emotional intelligence run the risk of superficiality and burn-out.
This event – part retreat, part training – will explore how Dharma based perspectives and practices can inform and resource life-affirming action for ecological justice. Seeking to integrate the inner dimensions of personal transformation with practical skills in organising, community building, and designing effective strategies for social transformation, it brings together activist education with Dharma based practice, to empower personal and social change.
We can’t know if our efforts herald a future of living in solidarity with each other and the non-human world, or whether they will simply create resilience and capacity in individuals and communities to weather a complex and uncertain future. Either way, there is enormous creative potential for us to nurture in the years ahead. This training aims to help us build the personal and inter-personal resources to realise that potential. We hope it will help to build connections between practitioners which can find expression in collaborative and compassionate engagement with our times.
This training aims to:
- enable individuals to learn and deepen their practice of meditation and other Dharma based methods for developing inner resources of clarity, insight, courage, patience, and emotional resilience.
- develop an integrated understanding of how these inner based practices inform and support outer engagement and activity.
- create a supportive temporary community, in which individuals can reflect on their experience, go deeper in understanding their own motivations and concerns, and share experience and learning.
- offer key skills and tools for organizing and engagement, such as: understanding social change, developing and evaluating strategies and tactics, developing collaborative projects and work effectively with others, effective decision making, campaign planning and, importantly, how to avoid burnout, and stay inspired and engaged for the long haul!
Who is it for?
This event is aimed at people with at least some experience of basic Buddhist meditation, and with either a history of social engagement or a strong and clear commitment to carry the learning from the retreat/training into social/ecological action. There is an application process and we will be allocating places in two rounds. The first round will be completed by the end of April 2015 (deadline April 24th 2015) and the second round by the end of June 2015 (deadline June 19th 2015).
The retreat is offered freely as the organisers intend to fundraise in advance to cover all costs (there will be some additional costs involved in putting this particular retreat on, and we currently estimate the basic cost per retreatant will be £175). Donations will be invited at the end of the retreat and these will be used to fund retreats in the future. This gives retreatants the opportunity to practice generosity by making it possible for future retreats to also be offered freely.
Teachers do not receive a fee for leading retreats, whilst giving enormously of their time and energy. Dharma teachings are considered priceless and therefore teachers offer their understanding freely. The livelihood of most Insight Meditation teachers depends wholly, or to a large extent, on voluntary contributions from retreatants who value their guidance and wish to support the ongoing teachings of the Dharma. Your generosity to the teacher is greatly appreciated, and at the end of each retreat there will be an opportunity to offer them a donation.
Coming on retreat can be an invaluable boost for your practice whether you’re only just beginning with meditation or have been practising for decades. Everything is set up specifically to help you feel supported and to foster the calmness of mind necessary for meditative insight.
One of the conditions that we find particularly helpful to offer retreatants is an opportunity for shared silence. We agree as a group not to converse with each other for the duration of the retreat*, we turn off our phones and gadgets, we disconnect from social media, and we put down our books.
Why do we do this? Because silence provides the opportunity to develop a new relationship with ourselves and the world, rather than simply being a gap to be filled. Free from the usual distractions that stimulate the mind, we begin to experience an altogether different and sublime dimension to life, one that was hiding there all along. And as silence starts to reveal its irresistible and profound beauty we allow the possibility of our innate wisdom to show itself.
* During the week there will be talks, meditation instructions and opportunities to meet either in small groups or individually with the teacher. Outside of these times the retreat will remain in silence but the coordinators are always present and can be communicated with via notes if any problems arise.