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Hidden in Plain Sight: Buddha’s Teachings on Liberation
Dates: Aug 19, 2022 - Aug 24, 2022
Days: Fri - Wed (5 Nights)

Instructor(s): Gil Fronsdal

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In the Buddha's teachings, what is liberation? What are the insights that lead to awakening? And what are the teachings that point to freedom? What does practice look like after liberation? Modern answers to these essential questions are strongly influenced by later Theravada and modern interpretations, which have long obscured some of the Buddha's central teachings. These teachings become manifest once we learn to see them in the Pali suttas. 

Based on the teachings in the Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Saṃyutta Nikāya), this course will present a radically new understanding of such core teachings as the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Arising, and the stages of liberation. In this text, we will see that the Four Noble Truths differ in meaning, insight, and experience from being an understanding of the cause of suffering and that dependent arising has a different function on the path of liberation than emphasizing conditionality as usually taught in Buddhism. This text also reveals that a two-stage model of liberation—i.e., that of "trainee" and "non-trainee"—is far more prominent in the Buddha’s teachings than the four-stage model held up in classic Theravada teachings. And practice before the first stage of awakening is different than after attaining liberation, when practice becomes solidly based on qualities of awakening itself. Exploring all four of these topics together will help us understand accounts of the Buddha's own enlightenment. We will also examine how this new understanding leads to a new appreciation of mindfulness practice taught in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta.

Noble Silence: 

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

Experience Level: Prerequisite Required

At least four years of Buddhist practice, at least four week-long residential insight retreats, and familiarity with the suttas. 

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

This course will be offered on a lottery basis in order to ensure that spaces are available for a diverse student body. Registering for a lottery does not ensure a space in the program. The lottery will close on April 15th, and spaces will be offered by April 22nd. Payment will be due three days from notification of acceptance. Click for more information about our lottery courses.

Demographic questions are required for this course because we are committed to ensuring that spaces in the program are available for a diverse student body.

As we work to become a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming; please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.

  • Gil Fronsdal has practiced extensively in Soto Zen and Theravada Buddhism training in the US, Japan, Thailand, and Burma.  He is a teacher at the Insight Meditation Center, the Insight Retreat Center, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, all in California.  Gil also holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies. His books include translations of the Dhammapada and the Book of Eights (Atthakavagga). For the last fifteen years he has also been involved in training Buddhist chaplains and spiritual care providers.