“For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.”
Compassion is at the heart of the Buddhist path of practice. Compassion can be understood as the capacity to turn towards suffering with an open heart, coupled with the desire to alleviate the suffering within one’s own field of experience, as well as that of others.
On this retreat we cultivate practices that enable this movement of turning towards suffering, as well as the opening and deepening of compassion. Compassion practices are intimately connected to the development of wisdom and understanding of the emptiness and fabricated nature of things within the field of Buddhist meditation philosophy.
One of the central emptiness teachings is the idea of anatta, the emptiness of self. The self is understood to be a conditioned phenomena, without inherent existence. At the same time our day to day experience of the self can feel undeniably real - our whole life is centered around the story of the self.
In the anattā practices we will cultivate an awareness of the tendency of the mind to identify with different aspects of experience: we intuitively consider the sensations of the body, thought, emotions, mindstates and consciousness to be our selves or belonging to our selves. In the anatta practices we develop a compassionate letting go of this habitual identification and see the different parts of our experience just as natural phenomena.