The Early Buddhist Meditation Path program is an in-depth study of meditation as it emerges in the early Buddhist discourses, extant in Pāli and compared with their parallels in Chinese and other languages. These are the sources that bring us as close as possible to the teachings of the historical Buddha. The program takes place over eleven months, from late August 2023 to mid-July 2024. Participants will join the teachers for three online retreats and optional meetings between the retreats. This live teaching will be supplemented with guided meditations, readings, and other resources available on Canvas for two months prior to each retreat.
This program is intended for experienced practitioners of meditation who wish to deepen their understanding of the canonical Buddhist source material. Participants are expected to commit to all three retreats, which build on each other as one continuous program. In order to register, you will need to have completed a residential or online meditation course with Bhikkhu Anālayo.
Participation in this program requires a commitment that is similar to in-person retreat practice. In case you do not meet the Path program prerequisites, or if it will be difficult to make adequate space in your life for an intensive online retreat, we recommend that you consider taking Bhikkhu Anālayo’s 9-week Satipaṭṭhāna Meditation or Mindfulness of Breathing course, which each meet just once per week and are easier to integrate into your work and family life.
Each retreat will be preceded by two months of guided audio meditations alongside the transcripts of the same, readings available in pdf format for personal use, and other supportive resources, with new ones released each week. The retreats will combine live question and answer sessions with Bhikkhu Anālayo, recorded teachings, guided meditation instructions, and 24 hour access to a virtual meditation hall. The retreats will also include small group discussions via Zoom and an online written forum, both supported by Dawn Scott, Rhonda Magee, and Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā.
The three retreats cover the topics found below.
|Prerequisite||Completed a residential or online meditation course with Bhikkhu Anālayo|
|Registration time frame||June 1 - August 18, 2023|
|Guided meditations and video lectures||1st release: August 18, 2023 - New material weekly|
|Online retreat course dates||October 20 - 29, 2023
April 5 - 14, 2024
July 5 - 14, 2024
|Meetings between retreats with teachers|
10:30 - 11:30 AM EST
|December 10, 2023
Jan 8, 2024
May 12, 2024
June 9, 2024
|Retreat daily schedule||Download the schedule here|
|BIPOC affinity group||Led by Rhonda V. Magee during the main portion of each retreat|
Program costs include all components
The Four Establishments of Mindfulness (Oct 20 – 29, 2023)
The first retreat focuses on what is of practical relevance to actual meditation practice, informed by academic resources in understanding the four establishments of mindfulness. The meditative approach presented will combine all four establishments of mindfulness into a single continuous formal meditation practice that also relates to daily life practice. The approach to the four establishments of mindfulness is based on emphasizing an embodied form of practice, in the sense of rooting mindfulness in the whole body, which easily carries over into continuity of mindfulness during any activity.
Mindfulness of Breathing (April 5 – 14, 2024)
This retreat will undertake an in-depth study of the sixteen steps of mindfulness of breathing, as a way of combining tranquility and insight in a form of practice that aims at the cultivation of the awakening factors. Central to this approach to meditatively working with the breath is a substantial shift in perspective from the common tendency to focus on the breath toward instead foregrounding a broadly receptive type of mindfulness that comprises the breath and other phenomena, listed in the instructions in the discourse. This retreat builds on the practice of the awakening factors developed in the first retreat on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.
The Brahmavihāras and Emptiness (July 5 – 14, 2024)
This retreat centers on the study of brahmavihāra meditation as support for and leading to the gradual entry into emptiness as described in the Shorter Discourse on Emptiness (Cūlasuññatasutta), relating both of these modes of practice to progress to awakening. Regarding the cultivation of the immeasurables or divine abodes, the proposed practice will minimize reliance on conceptual reflections and instead encourage abiding in these states in an embodied manner. The emptiness practices in turn have much in common with the type of meditative approaches known from the Chan/Zen and Mahāmudrā (Dzogchen) practices lineages, offering a gradual building up to a form of meditative dwelling that is free from all mental construction. This retreat builds on the meditative skills developed in the first two retreats, on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness and Mindfulness of Breathing.
Together, the three retreats build on mindfulness as the central quality that engenders the awakening factors and covers the cultivation of tranquility and insight, thereby presenting an integrated and flexible approach to progress on the path to awakening.
Program Costs includes all components
Financial assistance may be requested on the registration page.
This Path program is not an introduction to meditation. To participate, you need to have already taken a residential or online meditation course with Bhikkhu Anālayo (including, for example, the two-month courses offered through BCBS that focus on Bhikkhu Anālayo's approach to meditation). Shorter weekend retreats or practicing independently with Bhikkhu Anālayo’s teachings do not satisfy the prerequisite. If you are unsure if you meet the prerequisite please reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please list the dates and locations of the residential/online meditation course you have taken with Bhikkhu Anālayo on the registration page.
The teaching team will review applications. If there are any concerns about a participant’s suitability for the program, we will follow-up individually.
Bhikkhu Anālayo is a scholar-monk and the author of numerous books on meditation and early Buddhism, such as Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization, Perspectives on Satipatthāna, and Satipatthāna Meditation: A Practice Guide. He is a resident faculty member at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, having retired from being a professor at the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg. His main area of academic research is early Buddhism, with a special interest in the topics of meditation and women in Buddhism. At the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies he participates in online programs and undertakes research into meditation-related themes. For a full list of Bhikkhu Anālayo’s publications, please click here.
Dawn Scott is a graduate of the Insight Meditation Society’s 2017 – 2021 teacher training program, a co-principal teacher of Marin Sangha, and a core teacher of Spirit Rock’s Liberation, Emptiness, and Awareness Practices (LEAP) Program and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and Insight Meditation Society's joint program, Exploring the Heart of Freedom. Dawn has a deep love of long retreat practice and the Buddha's liberative teachings.
Rhonda V. Magee, M.A., J.D., is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and has spent more than twenty years integrating anti-racist education, social justice, and contemplative practices. She is an internationally-recognized innovator, storyteller, and thought and practice leader on integrating mindfulness into society. She is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute and the author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness (TarcherPerigee: 2019).
Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā is a scholar-monastic and practitioner, born in Italy in 1980. She is the director of the Āgama Research Group; her main research interests are the early Buddhist discourses and Vinaya texts, as well as the development of the theories, practices, and ideologies of Buddhist meditative traditions (for her publications, see here). Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā has been practicing meditation since 1996 and has been studying and collaborating with Bhikkhu Anālayo since 2007.