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You Are Your Body: Realizing the Oneness of Human Nature and Buddha Nature
Dates: Oct 30, 2020 - Nov 02, 2020
Days: Fri - Mon (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Barry Magid, Max Erdstein

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In both Eastern and Western traditions, spirituality has been defined in opposition to the body, its limitations, and its physical needs and desires. The spirit or soul was immaterial, timeless and pure; the body was material, the seat of sexuality and emotional attachment, subject to decay and death. Consequently, spiritual practices involved the denial, or renunciation of the body through celibacy, asceticism, mortification of the flesh, and the cutting of all personal ties under the rubric of home-leaving. This course will present a contemporary view of Dharma practice that attempts to undo the long-presumed dichotomy of body and spirit. Indeed, the Buddha’s fundamental realization of impermanence and interdependency is nowhere more immediately and viscerally evident than in the ever-changing needs, aging, sickness and death of our bodies.

This is a model of Zen for householders, not home-leavers. We will look at the implications of a meditation practice that does not aim to take us to a “higher” state of consciousness or promise transcendence of this bodily existence, but rather sees the Dharma as fully realizable and expressible in this body, this moment–the only life there is.

Learning Intentions:

To collapse the painful dualities of body vs. spirit, actual vs. ideal, human vs. Buddha; reclaim the possibility of perfectly realizing the Buddha’s deepest teachings in the midst of the fullness of our everyday lives; and embrace Dharma practice as a whole person, whose body, desires, emotions, thoughts, intentions and awareness are all inseparable from our Buddha nature, all continually manifesting their inherent interdependence, impermanence and perfection, just as they are, right here and right now.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

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

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • 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.


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