The Poetry of Self – The Poetry of Not-Self

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The Poetry of Self – The Poetry of Not-Self

14 – 21 September 2018

Venue: The High Heathercombe Centre

I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
But I give myself to it.
R. M. Rilke

The Buddhist teachings on not-self invite us to explore how self is constructed. Looking closer we discover that ‘self’ is not per se the problem. The Dharma unveils unexamined ways we perceive and construct self and then believe in these fabrications with their accompanying limiting narratives and somatically held patterns.

On this retreat we will enquire into how we create self, other and world; seeing their creation as a spectrum from the dense to ever more refined and subtle levels.

We aim to cultivate a liberating pliability that can celebrate the unique expressions of self as well as its emptiness.

There will be periods of sitting and walking meditation, guided instructions, reflections and teacher support in small groups.

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 for you to practise generosity yourself and ensure others in the future can receive the same gift. We truly appreciate, on behalf of these future retreatants, all that you are 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.


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 in small groups 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.

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