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Brahmavihāra and Emptiness
Dates: Mar 06, 2020 - Mar 12, 2020
Days: Fri - Thu (6 Nights)

Instructor(s): Bhikkhu Analayo, Ann Dillon

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This course will undertake a study of brahmavihāra meditation and the gradual entry into emptiness as described in the Shorter Discourse on Emptiness (Cūḷasuññata Sutta), relating both of these modes of practice to progress to awakening. A central focus during the study sessions will be the qualities pertinent to awakening (bodhipakkhiya dhammas), those qualities and practices that according to early Buddhism are central for liberation. This course is meant for experienced practitioners of meditation who wish to deepen their understanding and practice. The emphasis throughout the course will be on what is of practical relevance to actual meditation practice. The course will combine study and discussion sessions in the mornings with guided meditation instructions given during the silent practice periods of the rest of the day.

Learning Intentions:

To examine central aspects of the brahmavihāras and their potential contribution to progress to awakening; deepen understanding of the qualities pertinent to awakening (bodhipakkhiyā dhammā), their relationships and their importance in progressing on the path; explore the Buddha's teachings on emptiness, develop proper understanding of the doctrine of not-self, and consider relevant application in our own practice, both formal meditation and daily life; and understand the relationship between meditative cultivation of insight and development of the eightfold path, and how this can be applied in our own practice.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

The format of this course includes dedicated periods of both noble silence and mindful speech. Participants are encouraged to actively participate in morning study and discussion groups, supported by mindful speech. Noble silence is to be upheld at all other times.


Participants need to be familiar with Bhikkhu Analayo’s approach to the Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana)–particularly the hindrances and the awakening factors–by having sat a previous retreat with him on this topic or taken his online Satipatthana course. Please list on your lottery application. In case participants have been unable to attend one of his previous retreats, it would in principle be possible to acquire the required foundations by relying on his recently published Satipatthana Meditation Practice Guide (2018), if this is used in conjunction with the audio files that offer his guided instructions, found here https://www.windhorsepublications.com/satipatthana-meditation-audio. Please provide details on how much time you have been able to invest in this form of preparation in case you wish to apply without having sat a previous course.

Link to Lottery course details

The lotttery for this course will close on October 15, 2019.
  • Bhikkhu Anālayo is a German scholar-monk and the author of Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization, Perspectives on Satipatthāna, and Excursions into the Thought-World of the Pāli Discourses. He is a Core Faculty Member at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, a professor at the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg, and a researcher at the Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taiwan.

  • Ann Dillonsat her first formal insight retreat in 2004, and her first concentration retreat in 2008. Over time her interests gravitated to the early Buddhist teachings, especially in the way meditative practice highlights conditionality and supports concurrent cultivation of insight and tranquility leading to development and culmination of the awakening factors.