It’s retreat season here in Brad Warner World. I am doing a whole slew of them over the next month and a half. Right now I’m in Germany about to begin the first in the series. The final in the series will be our big blow-out three-day Zen and Yoga retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center November 8-10.
Retreats are a vital part of Zen practice. While the core of Zen practice is daily sitting, it’s important to also attend retreats whenever possible. There is a depth of practice that only happens when you engage with yourself over a long period of time. One-day, three-day, five-day or seven-day retreats are all great ways to do this.
It’s almost impossible to really do a long sitting by yourself. The few people who managed to do it are almost all famous in the annals of Zen history simply for being able to do long sitting practice by themselves — Gautama Buddha, Bodhidharma to name two. Even Dogen never sat a long sesshin on his own.
I’m fascinated by the use of the word “retreat” for these long-form meditation things. Retreat implies that we run away from things. But that’s not actually what happens on a Zen retreat. It’s more like an attack than a retreat sometimes in that you confront yourself head-on and see what you’re really made of.
The idea of sitting and staring at a wall for a day or several days can seem like a depressing prospect if you’ve never done it before. But it’s not at all. I sometimes emphasize the boredom associated with Zen practice to try and counter some of the overly flowery and romanticized descriptions you get elsewhere. But it’s actually not boring at all. You get to see yourself as you really are and you can often solve some of your deepest, most troubling problems just by looking at them carefully. Solutions just sort of pop out at you. It’s kind of amazing.
I’m offering a number of opportunities for people who want to deepen their practice. Please take advantage of them!
• Oct. 2-6. 5-day retreat in Benediktushof. There is still time to sign up. Go to their website for details. The topic of discussion will be the Zen classic Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. I will do dokusan (personal interviews/discussion) with all members who want to.
• October 7th I’m speaking in Frankfurt on at Dogen Zendo. Info is here. Please stop by for a chat about Zen!
• October 9th I’ll be speaking at Dharma Buchladen in Berlin
• On October 11th, I’ll be speaking in Amsterdam.
• On October 12th, I’ll be speaking at Groningen University in the Netherlands.I think the details are somewhere on this page. But it’s in Dutch so I’m not sure.
• On Oct. 13 and 14th I’ll be in Bonn, Germany. The details about that are on this page. The 13th will be an all-day sitting and on the 14th I’ll do a talk in the evening.
• Thursday 17th October
In Conversation with Brad Warner and Jon Robb – The Punk meets the Monk
• 18-19 October Zen Retreat / 20th October Public Talk in Hebden Bridge, England
• 23 October 7pm, I’ll be speaking in London.
Caledonian Road Centre
486 Caledonian Road
London N7 9RP
• 24 October, 8pm, I’ll be speaking in Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Hosted the Neave Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2203213006/)
**Oxford University students only**
• 25 Oct In Conversation 7pm-9pm / 26 October Zazen Day
Merchant City Yoga Centre Glasgow, Scotland
• November 8-10 Zen and Yoga Retreat at Mount Baldy Zen Center in Southern California (1 & 1/2 hours east of Los Angeles)
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I’m self-financing all of these, so please feel free to help out a little by sending a donation! Thanks!