Being Human

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Being Human: A Hungry Ghost Retreat

22 – 26 May 2017

Venue: The High Heathercombe Centre

This is not a silent retreat but there will be periods of quietude including one complete day of silence. More information can be found on the Hungry Ghost Retreats website.

This is an intensive 5-day residential retreat exploring ‘Buddhist’ principles and practices that cultivate a more personally contented experience of everyday living. Being Human is an encouragement to lift the veil and break the spell of universal cravings, aversions and confusions that so often manifest as addictions and compulsions, as well as harmful thinking and behaviours.

Healing the Heart-Mind

This retreat includes a progressive investigation of self-views – through the traditional practices of Loving-kindness and Forgiveness – supporting the letting-go of hatred and ill-will for ourselves and for others. We will learn to incline our minds towards kindness… there is no finer mindfulness!

It is important to note that you do not have to be ‘a Buddhist’ to practise any of the principles discussed, and meditation practices explored.

Some potential learning outcomes of this retreat:

  • Learning to stay with the uncomfortable – Right Now It’s Like This !?
  • An introduction to and/or deepening of one’s own mindfulness meditation practice as a basic attitude in everyday life.
  • A basic understanding of the Buddhist principles and practices of mindfulness-based harm reduction, relapse prevention and waking-up from ‘addictions’ and compulsions.
  • An understanding and appreciation of the difference between ‘abstinence’ and ‘abandonment’ of addictions, compulsions and harmful behaviour (i.e. the Training Precepts compared to the commitment of a Sajja [Vow]).
  • The opportunity to take part in and/or lead Buddhist-oriented ‘Sit-and-Share‘ peer led support meetings.
  • The optional opportunity to make a Sajja [intention/aspiration/commitment/vow] as an outward manifestation of the heart’s desire to move away from suffering towards the end of suffering.

Retreat Commitment

My commitment to each retreat is to prepare and share my formulation of these teachings for everyone’s benefit. However, we create a retreat together when we show up for ourselves and for each other. Retreatants are therefore expected to adhere to the Retreat Commitment.

Just as our recovery requires our complete wholehearted commitment and our full effort, so does attendance on any Hungry Ghost Retreat. It is a requirement of acceptance on retreat that you attend for the whole retreat and take part in all sessions. If you are not an ‘early morning person’ then this retreat is not for you.

Retreat Commitment

Harmlessness: I will act in accordance with the Five Precepts for the duration of the retreat:

  1. I will not harm myself or anyone else.
  2. I will not take anything that has not been freely given.
  3. I will be maintain respectful and proper sexual boundaries.
  4. I will speak truthfully and kindly.
  5. I will not take drugs or alcohol.

Attendance: I will be present at all sessions.

Time keeping: I will be on time for all retreat activities.

Silent Periods: I will observe and respect all silent times.

Smoking: I will not smoke during the retreat. If I must then I will not smoke on site. I will smoke alone and in silence. I will be mindful of the harm that I am doing to myself. Smoking will not be a social event.

Telephone: I will power-off my mobile telephone or hand it in to the Retreat Manager for safe keeping.

Internet: I will power-off all electronic devices including tablets, laptops and mobile phones or hand them in to the Retreat Manager for safe keeping.

Hot Drinks: I will only make hot drinks during mealtimes and designated ‘tea meditation’ times. I will not take hot drinks outside of the Dining Room.

Dormitory Respect: I will not enter the rooms or dormitory of the opposite gender without the express permission of the Retreat Manager or Teacher.

Karmic Consequences: I know and accept that I am the owner of my thoughts, words and actions. I know and accept the consequences of not keeping the retreat rules. I know and accept that I may be asked to leave the retreat if my words or actions are inappropriate. The Retreat Manager’s decision will be final.


The retreat is offered freely as the organisers intend to fundraise in advance to cover all costs (we anticipate these will be about £110 per person). 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.

We will also invite a separate donation for the teacher(s). 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.


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