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Lions of the Wilderness: Early Buddhist Nature Poetry

Residential Program
Dates: Oct 06, 2023 - Oct 08, 2023
Days: Friday - Sunday
Number of Nights: 2 nights

Instructor(s): Andrew Olendzki

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Program Description:

The Pali Canon includes many verses (gathas) of poetry that movingly extol the beauty of nature and that use themes from the natural world in describing Buddhist ideas and practices. This weekend program will look closely at examples of these gathas, particularly those relating to nature and the use of nature metaphors to express Buddhist teachings. We investigate the use of special wording that allows for the aesthetic appreciation of nature while avoiding the kinds of pleasure and attachment that can lead to suffering; we review the importance of meter and how it influences the poetics of early Indian traditions; and we consider social issues such as who is composing nature poetry (monks) and who is not (nuns). The program is intended for those who have an interest in the historical Buddha and his first generation of followers, as well as in the Pali language and its nuances. Many of the verses will be recited out loud, both in Pali and in English.

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning. Additional silent practice periods will be scheduled throughout the program.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Andrew Olendzki, Ph.D., is a Buddhist scholar, teacher, and writer living in Amherst, Massachusetts. Trained at Lancaster University (UK), the University of Sri Lanka (Perediniya), and Harvard, he was the first executive director at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and went on to lead and teach at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies for almost twenty-five years. He has also taught at numerous New England colleges (including Amherst, Brandeis, Connecticut, Hampshire, Harvard, Lesley, Montserrat, and Smith colleges), spent two years at the Mind & Life Institute heading up their Mapping the Mind project, and has been a longtime member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Andrew has contributed chapters to many books on Buddhist psychology, writes regularly for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and is the author of Unlimiting Mind: The radically experiential psychology of Buddhism (Wisdom, 2010) and Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are (Wisdom, 2016). He is currently creating and teaching a number of online programs as the senior scholar of the Integrated Dharma Institute, and is Professor and Director of Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University.