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Silent Illumination, Embodied Experiencing: A Method for Natural Awakening
Dates: Apr 17, 2021 - May 22, 2021
Online Course

Instructor(s): Guo Gu

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In the Chinese Chan (Zen) tradition, silent illumination refers to the natural awakening, the realization that we are already free. It is stillness and clarity, samādhi and prajñā, the union of wisdom and compassion. As a method of cultivation, it has resonance with dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism, vipassanā in Theravada Buddhism, and shikantaza of Japanese Soto Zen. Yet, silent illumination is also unique. This six-week course will explore: silent illumination through foundational practices of embodied experiencing of progressive relaxation; somatic integration of breath/experiencing/present moment; direct contemplation of seeing and hearing; and the realization of silent illumination in daily life. The course will meet online together once a week for instructions and discussion of the week’s topics, with readings assigned each week. As the practice of the embodied experiencing of silent illumination progresses, there will be opportunity to receive clarification on practice in online office hours with Guo Gu held twice each week. 

The course will follow sections of Guo Gu’s Silent Illumination (Shambhala Publications, 2021; available here at the BCBS bookshop). While not required to purchase for the course, it is strongly recommended.

Week 1 – Learning to relax the body through progressive relaxation;

Week 2 – What is the role of body/mind in Awakening? Learn embodied experiencing;

Week 3 – Somatic Alienation and Integration of Silent Illumination as direct perception;

Week 4 – Silent Illumination as stages of practice of śamathā and vipassana;

Week 5 – Drawing on twelfth-century Chan Buddhist writings on Silent Illumination by Chan Master Hongzhi;

Week 6 – Integrating Silent Illumination into Daily Activities.

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.


Online Course: This course will be hosted on the Zoom video conferencing platform and closed captions are available. Our intention is to build sangha and provide meaningful virtual interactions with each other and teachers in our online courses. When registering for an online course, please plan to attend as many sessions as possible. The schedule of Zoom meetings for this course (shown in US Eastern Time) is as follows:


Meeting Schedule: Saturdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, between April 17 and May 22

Meeting Dates: April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22


Please check the time of the group meetings in your timezone here, and sessions will be recorded and uploaded within 72 hours. 


Registration fees for online courses are nonrefundable after the course start date. Cancellations prior to the start date of the course will incur a $25 admin fee. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Guo Gu (Jimmy Yu) is a Chan (Zen) teacher and a scholar. He is the founder of the Tallahassee Chan Center and leads retreats in different parts of the world. He is the author of Essence of Chan and Passing through the Gateless Barrier. As a Buddhist scholar, he teaches at the Florida State University and have published many articles on Buddhism and Asian religions.


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