Exploring insight & emptiness practice based on Rob Burbea’s presentation of the Buddhist path.
Course Length: 9 weeks • Time: Sundays at 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm UK time
Dates: March 14th – May 9th, 2021
Location: Online (Zoom)
In this course we will be offering ways of working that unburden the heart and mind. These practice approaches are rooted in the buddhist teachings, and were presented in a clear, comprehensive, and innovative way in the insight teachings of Rob Burbea.
These ways of working lead to liberation in three ways. The first way is an immediate freedom that can be opened in our present experience through practice. The second way is encouraging the development of the kind sensitivity and discernment that open the doors to more subtle and profound ways of working. Lastly, and most importantly, the methods and framing of the dharma we will explore can place us firmly on a path that leads to an ever-deepening understanding of the emptiness of all things, and the way that human consciousness and experience are formed.
The practices that will be offered are fundamental for those who wish to deepen the path of insight. The specific practices and orientation to the Buddhadharma that we will use will rely on the way Rob Burbea taught insight and emptiness practice. In the spirit of Rob’s teachings, participants will be encouraged to practice with sensitivity, responsiveness, discernment and intelligence. While the primary intention of this course will be to explore practices and general approaches with the intention to deepen one’s path of insight, they are also incredibly valuable for exploring the lessening of fabrication in ways that support Soulmaking practices and Samadhi practices as presented by Rob.
The path of insight into emptiness has the potential to change and open our most fundamental intuitions about what this world is, what life is, and what a human being is. It may give birth to a sense of wonder and beauty that pervades our perception of our experience. This path of insight is almost always gradual, although not necessarily linear. Each step on it leads to more liberation. In this course, we will offer some of the fundamental steps that may support such a path, and increase our confidence that such radical transformation is possible.
In learning this, we are also developing understanding into our hearts and minds. How do they behave and impact the way that our moment-to-moment experience unfolds? So, we are also developing skills in navigating and playing in the field of our perception – our sense of self and world – that comprises our lived experience.
Course Approach & Topics
We will be offering a few central methods of practice, and developing each one for a few weeks. We will explore them through talks, guided meditations and Q&As. Although they are not completely linear, the skills in these practices will build on each other. We will offer ideas and approaches that support the long term development of a coherent and flexible view of the Dharma. We will convey the specific practices within that larger context, in order to serve the practitioner over the life of their practice.
Some of the topics/practices this course will cover are:
- Developing skill in Samadhi: collecting and calming the heart and body in a happy state, that supports wisdom and sensitivity.
- Cultivating the ability to sense and relate to the experience in ways that are liberating in and of themselves, while also leading to deeper insight into emptiness.
- Discernment into different aspects of immediate experience that supports the development of clear insight into emptiness.
- Working with the “way of looking” of sensitivity to change (Anicca) in a way that allows freedom, and lead to deeper insights.
- Developing intimacy with and understanding of the felt sense clinging and its dynamics. Learning and practicing liberating ways of working with it.
- In depth instruction with specific insight practices from Seeing that Frees offered in such a way as to make the overarching ideas of the book useful and clear.
- General principles that support the balancing of one’s insight practice in a way that allows for both depth and sustainability of practice.
- Practicing sensitivity to the field of vast awareness as a place of rest, refuge and insight.
- Looking at the meditative experience in ways that can lead to an ever-deepening understanding of the emptiness of all things, and the dynamics of the human consciousness.
Weekly Class Meetings: Each session will last 2.5 hours and be held on the Zoom platform. There will be guided meditation and instructions each week, with time for questions and reports (the course size will be limited to support participation). We will offer teachings about the practices themselves, as well as teachings that explore the larger context of insight & emptiness practice.
Optional Guided Practice Sessions: One of the teachers will hold a weekly optional guided meditation session based on the practice offered that week in class. The sessions will happen on Wednesdays at 5pm-6pm UK time, and they will be recorded and provided as additional support for your exploration of these practices.
Cost: We are happy to offer this course on Dana (donation) basis. As we consider the development of the Dharma in the West, we wish to explore the possibility to maintain this traditional way of mutual support between the community and the teachers. This means that everyone who meets the practice requirements of this course can attend, regardless of their financial situation. However, it also requires taking responsibility as we are able to. Both teachers are relying on Dana for their living, so we will ask you to seriously consider this matter. We suggest one takes into account these aspects: what you wish to give and feels right for you, taking responsibility for making the Dharma available / the dana system, and your available resources.
Prerequisites: It is expected that those who take the course will have a working familiarity with mindfulness and insight meditation, and a regular meditation practice. This course will not offer basic meditation instruction. Therefore, we ask that you:
- Have been practicing meditation for one year or longer.
- Have attended at least 1 weeklong retreat or 2 weekend retreats.
- Practice with a group, community, or have recently taken other dharma courses.
If you do not meet those requirements exactly, but feel yourself to have equivalent experience, you will be able to clarify that on the application.
This course will offer practices that encourage the opening of new and potentially radical perspectives of our sense of self and sense of the world. While the teachers will do their best to offer a supportive container for such exploration together, we will be unable to provide individual support. Therefore we ask that you feel confident that your practice and life circumstances are relatively stable. If you have any questions about this please feel free to ask using the “contact” page. Only the teachers of this course will read submissions through the contact form.
This course will be taught by Yahel Avigur and Susy Keely, who were trained to teach by Rob Burbea. The course is offered at Rob’s request, with the intention to support those interested in deepening their exploration of the wide range of practices his teachings encompass.
Yahel Avigur has been a devoted practitioner of insight meditation since 2003, combining practices from several Buddhist traditions. Since 2013 he’s practiced with the guidance of Rob Burbea, and in 2020 completed his teacher-training under his guidance. For the last four years Yahel has been teaching Dharma in Israel. He is also dedicated to educational work and social activism, and practices Hakomi, a meditative-dialogical approach to psychological healing.
Susy Keely has practiced Buddhist meditation since 2001, and began practicing insight meditation five years later. In 2015 she began studying and training with Rob Burbea, and completed her teacher-training with him in 2020. She teaches meditation in Los Angeles, California, and is an artist and a parent. She is passionate about exploring the intersection between creative energies and contemplative practice, and supporting practitioners wishing to pursue deep practice in the midst of daily life.