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Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Life Story of the Buddha
Dates: Nov 07, 2019 - Nov 10, 2019
Days: Thu - Sun (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Monson

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The life story of the Buddha stands out in religious literary history as a powerful example of how one human being transformed his relationship to dukkha and discovered a way to live sourced with boundless compassion, love, and wisdom. This course will guide participants through the life story of the Buddha as a paradigm for exploring how to be in relationship with those reactive emotional forces, both internal and external, that keep us from accessing and responding from our own innate place of refuge – a way of being unconditioned by reactivity.

In addition to exploring our own interpretive encounters with the Buddha’s story, we will draw on insights into the perspectives and sensibilities of the awakened person as described in Steven Batchelor’s Beyond Buddhism. We will focus on how the metaphorical descriptions of the Buddha’s experience of encountering “Mara” under the Bodhi tree on the night of his enlightenment provide a practical template for re-configuring our usually reactive experience of and relationship to, the difficult situations, emotions, and energies that we encounter in our daily lives.

This course combines close textual study with contemplative and meditation practice for a unique encounter with the Buddha as human being, archetype, inspiration, and embodiment of wisdom and compassion.

Learning Intentions:

To learn how close interpretive readings of textual sources can deeply inform personal practice and ethical life; see how the Buddha’s example teaches us how to work with patterns of emotional reactivity without suppressing or bypassing them, in order to find liberation in the midst of daily life; and learn “shadow” practices – contemplative and meditative techniques that can enable us to be present with and metabolize our difficult states, just as they are.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • Elizabeth Monson, PhD, is the Spiritual Co-Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship and adjunct Professor at Harvard Divinity School. She currently serves as the managing teacher of Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, a Buddhist meditation retreat center in Springfield, NH. She holds a Doctorate in Religious Studies with a focus in Tibetan Buddhism and Ethics from Harvard University. She has been studying, practicing, and teaching Buddhism for over twenty-five years and is currently working on a book for the Shambhala Publications series Lives of the Masters.