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The Fruits of a Contemplative Life
Dates: Mar 13, 2020 - Mar 15, 2020
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)

Instructor(s): Mu Soeng

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The Discourse on the Fruits of the Contemplative Life (Samannaphala Sutta) is one of the foundational and earliest discourses in the teachings of the Buddha. It is retained in the Long Discourses of the Buddha (Digha Nikaya), and is a comprehensive portrait of the Buddhist path of training–illustrating each stage of the training with vivid similes. In this discourse the Buddha also contrasts his path of training with the teachings of rival philosophical teachers of the time. It is our window into the revolutionary turn brought about by the Buddha in the religious contesting of his time by focusing on the conditioning and operations of the human mind. We will study this important discourse of the Buddha as a way to understand one key question in Buddhist thought and practice: what does it mean to actually live a contemplative life–specifically in the life of a lay Buddhist practitioner in contemporary Western culture? The format for the weekend will include formal presentations, group discussions, and silent contemplative practice.

Learning Intentions:

To become familiar with the stages of Buddhist training illustrated in the similes of the Discourse on the Contemplative Life; recognize how in the Discourse on the Contemplative Life the Buddha compares his contemplative path with that of rival philosophical teachers of his time; and to come to a deeper understanding of how to live a contemplative life in today's world by closely examining the Buddha's path of training.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

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

Experience Level:

Some meditation and retreat experience suggested.

  • Mu Soeng is Scholar Emeritus at BCBS. He trained in the (Korean) Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. He is the author of Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen (Tradition and Teachers); The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World; Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen; The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra, and co-author of Older and Wiser: Classical Buddhist Teachings on Aging, Sickness, and Death.


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