In this newsletter, you will find details of the Bodhi College programme for 2017 along with articles and news from the core and visiting teacher faculty. First, though, as Bodhi College approaches the end of its first yearly cycle, it seems like a good time to briefly reflect on the last twelve months.
Up and running
It has certainly been a significant period for the Bodhi College project; a year when a mixing pot of ideas, generosity, support, hard work and, at times, raw faith and endurance, have come together to properly establish the College as an organisation. As the courses filled up this year, it became apparent that much of the original inspiration for the College has come directly from the meditation cushions, and indeed the daily lives, of practitioners throughout Europe and beyond. This has been reflected in the excellent uptake of courses so far, in a year when our network and mailing list has still been relatively small.
Some of these courses have been new and in many ways groundbreaking, while others addressed niche needs amongst practice groups. Whatever the course, we feel great appreciation for everyone who has taken a step into the unknown and attended a course this year. Without your enthusiasm, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Your practice and interest has continued to sow seeds in the minds of our four founding teachers – Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, John Peacock and Akincano Weber – whose creativity and commitment to the Dharma as a living teaching continues to evolve not just the College programme, but also our vision.
Following our inaugural Board and Teacher Faculty ‘away day’ gathering in June, the College clarified its commitment to reach and engage with practitioners in further ways over the coming years. This included a commitment to develop online programmes, a Dharma teacher training programme, a diversity strategy, as well as offering introductory short courses. And as a result, the College is also now in the position to recruit an Operations Director (further details below).
It has felt like a significant year where firm foundations have been laid and clear objectives set for the future. We look forward to continuing the journey with you into 2017, and hope you enjoy this newsletter and reading about the 2017 courses, which will available to book from 11th October.
The Committed Practitioners and Secular Dharma programmes have been going well and will conclude in the autumn of 2017. Although no places are available in this current cycle, bookings for the next two-year cycle (2018–19) in both programmes will open in Autumn 2017.
During 2018–19 we plan to run the Committed Practitioners’ Programme in continental Europe rather than the UK. We are also hoping to organise a two-year Secular Dharma Programme in both Italy and Germany.
There are still places available on the Mindfulness Teachers' Development Programme in 2017. These modules will take place in February at Beatenberg in Switzerland, and in October at Sharpham House in Devon, and we welcome applications for individual modules. If you would like to find out more about these courses and application criteria, please visit our website or contact us.
As for the rest of our 2017 teaching programme, we are pleased to offer a number of new courses:
January 23–29 • Leiden und Freiheit von Reaktivität mit Stephen Batchelor und Renate Seifarth (Waldhaus-am-Lachersee)
March 31–April 5 • Solitudine e Comunità con Stephen Batchelor e Letizia Baglioni (Tossignano, Italy)
June 17–24 • Satipaṭṭhāna Study Retreat with John Peacock, Christina Feldman and Akincano Weber (Sharpham House, Devon). This retreat also forms part of the current Committed Practitioners Programme.
June 23–30 • Introduction to Pali with Andrew Olendzki (West Sussex). This seven-day intensive course gives beginning students a solid introduction to the Pali language and the primary literature of early Buddhism.
July 1–2 • Classical Buddhist Psychology with Andrew Olendzki (Central London). This weekend course will explore the sophisticated model of the mind, body, and human behaviour contained within Early Buddhist literature, and that is of growing interest to modern psychologists, neuroscience researchers, and caregivers of all sorts.
September 4–October 15 • The Four Noble Truths (Online course)
A six-week online distance learning programme with the Bodhi College core faculty – Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, John Peacock and Akincano Weber, run in collaboration with Tricycle: the Buddhist Review.
October 28–29 • Philosophy as a Way of Life – The Buddha, Sceptics, Epicureans and Stoics (Central London)
Stephen Batchelor and John Peacock will present a weekend seminar in which they will explore the parallels between the Dharma and the teachings of the Skeptics, the Epicureans and the Stoics. This course is also open to those new to Buddhist teachings.
December 9–10 • Untangling the Tangle (Central London)
This weekend study retreat with John Peacock and Christina Feldman will focus on the Honeyball Sutta (Madhupindika Sutta). In this text, the Buddha presents a significant teaching on the way in which our world of experience is constructed moment to moment as a direct way of understanding the way to the end of distress and fabrication.
All courses will be open for bookings on 11th October 2017. Click on the course title in the programme above which will take you directly to our website, and there you will find further details on the courses and teachers as well as course dates and venues. To book, simply follow the instructions.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Bodhi College is looking to recruit a part-time Operations Director to lead the organisation in delivering its yearly programme of courses and events. The job is to be home based in the UK and further details can be found on the website, alongside news of trustee opportunities.
As a new organisation, we remain dependent on the generosity of donors to enable us to operate and grow, whilst keeping courses accessible to all. Dana can therefore be offered to both the Development Fund and the Bursary Fund, and as a result of support to date, we are pleased to be able to offer some bursary places in 2017. Applications for bursaries can be made from October 11th, and information on how to apply will be available on the website.
Why Early Buddhism?
This is part of an ongoing attempt at articulating what is it about the early teachings that makes them unique and relevant, and why it is worthwhile taking the time to undo (or at least relax) some of the meanings and methods we may have inherited from Buddhist schools and teachers, and turn to these sources.
In the process, five key features of the early Dhamma stand out which, the author believes, are lost or obscured in later formulations. They are precisely the features which, once well-grasped, enable us to derive meaningful insights from the Suttas despite the socio-cultural gap, and to formulate and apply them in fresh, unique ways today.
–> Click here
to read the complete article
Bodhi College Board
As an educational charity, Bodhi College is governed by a board of trustees. We are most grateful to our trustees Richard Fernyhough (chair), Gerit Stoecklmair (secretary), Gary Born, Brigitte Huber-Jordi and Sean Williams for supporting us in this way. While the college is in its initial development phase, one core faculty member will also serve as a trustee on a yearly rotating basis. Stephen Batchelor will hold this position until April 2017.
Bodhi College is most grateful to all who have contributed to the smooth running of the organisation in our first year of operations. In addition to our coordinator, Gavin Milne, and bookings administrator, Aline Petit, we have received invaluable support from Cathy Flannery (accounting), Alan Lewis (IT), and Ramsey Margolis (communications and publicity).
Singing the Dharma
Ambapali left us twenty stanzas of poetry in the Therigatha, the collection of verses by the earliest women followers of the Buddha. Presumably composed when she was very old, well after the passing away of the Buddha, her verses speak of the former beauty of her body, noting how each feature has withered with age.
Each verse concludes with the same line, stating that she is only saying what is true, nothing more. We do not get the impression she is lamenting the loss of her beauty, or complaining about the current state of her great age; her wisdom has carried her beyond such things. Rather, she is just speaking the truth of impermanence and of the inevitable changes of the human body.
So how do we gain access to the heart of this woman? How do we reach across the many degrees of separation that stand between the time of her composing these verses in ancient India and the moment of our reading or hearing them today? These are questions of translation.
–> Click here to read the complete article
Secular Mindfulness: Potential and Pitfalls
The field of mindfulness-based programmes and therapies is the most widespread current example of how a Buddhist practice has been adapted for secular settings.
Several disciplines come together in the broad endeavour of ‘secular mindfulness’, including Buddhism, psychology, therapy, and science. One of my colleagues compared it to a ‘square dance’, a metaphor that does not privilege one or other position, but emphasises the dynamic nature of the dialogue and the importance of knowing where we are positioned at any particular time.
–> Click here
to read the complete article
For further information about our vision and activities visit https://bodhi-college.org.
If you have any questions, please write to our Bookings administrator at:
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