The Freeing of Human Consciousness
Deconstructing Class Conditioning While Building a More Inclusive and Compassionate Society
18-25 August 2018
Venue: The High Heathercombe Centre
In this retreat, we intend to explore the social and generational conditionings that result in the distorting and diminishing narratives that impair our ability to engage with the planetary emergency that now shapes our collective experience.
While the contemporary self is the outcome of many streams of conditioning, our primary focus is on the influence of the British class system in shaping our sense of self and other. Our consideration includes the impact of empire, colonialism, immigration, British involvement in global wars from before to the present, and a post-modern Britain struggling with multiple issues, particularly identity.
In a safe and carefully held retreat space, we will explore our experience of the internal narratives and energetic and emotional shapes we embody, while inquiring into the sense of self that arises from these conditionings.
Also: What are the implications of social conditioning when we look at intentionality, power systems that shape collective consciousness, and the ability to forge a more sustainable and just world? Where does the personal collude with the systemic when perpetuating subjugation and delusion?
From the lens of unconditioned awareness as the conduit of radical intuitive intelligence, we will hold the possibility of freedom from painful conditioning, without disassociating from its impact, so we can compassionately respond and authentically engage our fast moving world.
This retreat, framed by the practice of Insight meditation and Buddhist teachings, will include guided interactive inquiry, Dharma reflections applied to the retreat themes, and devotional practices. While this retreat will be primarily of interest to those shaped by British conditioning, all, regardless of background, class, and race that feel resonant with this theme are very welcome.
We anticipate running this retreat will cost us around £160 per person. Thanks to the generosity of those who have attended previous retreats and left donations, you can come along knowing your place will already have been paid for. Amazing! At the end of the retreat we will invite donations – this is an opportunity to practise generosity yourself and to enable others to receive the same gift in the future. We truly appreciate, on behalf of these future retreatants, whatever you feel able to give. (So you know, because all the work putting on these retreats is done by volunteers we have almost no overheads at all – the whole thing is run on generosity and love. That means all your money will go straight into the kitty for future retreats, paying for nothing but absolute essentials.)
We will also invite a separate donation for the teachers. 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 teachers is greatly appreciated.
Note: on this retreat Suvaco and Thanissara have asked that the dana be shared amongst all those helping to run the week, and not just between the two of them. Therefore this dana will be split equally between the coordinators and the teachers.
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.
* There will be times on this retreat for structured interactive inquiry, dialogue, and sharing, as well as for talks and meditation instructions from the teachers. Outside of these times the retreat will be held within contemplative silence, but the coordinators are always present and can be communicated with via notes if any problems arise.