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Emptiness, Interdependence and the Myth of Seeing Reality Directly

Residential Program
Dates: Oct 21, 2022 - Oct 24, 2022
Days: Friday - Monday
Number of Nights: 3 nights

Instructor(s): Barry Magid, Max Erdstein

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Program Description:

What are the stories and metaphors we use, knowingly or unknowingly, to understand Buddhist practice?

One of the most common metaphors has to do with seeing reality directly. In this view, relying on eyeglasses that, in one way or another, color or distort everything we see, we enter meditation practice to remove these filters and for the first time see things as they are.

In this metaphor, the lenses are faulty by virtue of being conceptual: we distort reality by pigeon-holing it into arbitrary categories, especially dualistic categories of self and other. In addition, we add further overlays of judgment, of likes and dislikes, good and bad. All of this prevents us from actually seeing reality directly, nakedly, free of our self-centered conceptual overlays. 

But what if there is no such thing as pure, conceptually unadulterated sense data? What if concepts shape all perception from the very start?  We will explore challenges to the metaphor of what Nietzsche called “immaculate perception” from both the Mahayana view of emptiness and the Western philosophical perspective of Wilfred Sellars, who called it “the Myth of the Given.” 

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Barry Magid he has been teaching Zen for over 20 years, having received Dharma Transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck. A practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, he has been at the forefront of integrating Zen and psychodynamic theory, and has explored the pitfalls of emotional bypass and dissociation that all too often warp Buddhist practice. He is the author of “Nothing is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans.”

  • Max Erdstein teaches at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. He is trained as a teacher by Gil Fronsdal. Max has practiced Vipassana and Zen in America, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. He received lay ordination from Sojun Mel Weitsman at the Berkeley Zen Center. Max completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Dharma teacher training program and trained in Buddhist chaplaincy with the Sati Center. With Gil he taught the first weeklong retreat at IRC in November 2012. Max holds an AB degree from Stanford and worked at Google for five years. He is a husband and father of two girls.