Exploring insight & emptiness practice based on Rob Burbea’s presentation of the Buddhist path.
Course Length: 9 weeks
Dates: January 15 – March 12, 2023
Location: Online (Zoom)
Main Meeting Time: Sundays at 5:30 pm – 7:15 pm UK time
Optional 45 min. Guided Meditation: Wednesday 5:30pm UK time
Q&A Sections: Either Sunday at 7:20 – 7:50 pm UK time OR Wed. 6:15pm – 6:45 UK time (you will have the chance to specify at time of application which Q&A session days are possible for you)
Register here: Registration is now closed for this course (the course is full with a long waitlist)
The dharma teacher Rob Burbea pointed to the ever-deepening path of practice that reveals the emptiness of all things. This path consists of small steps and different angles, each liberating in themselves, each with a different flavour of unburdening and freedom. In this course, we will explore and practice seeing the emptiness of dualities through a range of meditative approaches. This course will include insight practices that shine a light on the mind’s tendency to split and compare as well as ways of practicing that soften and release clinging. Other practices will encourage the development of beautiful perceptions of oneness, which opens the possibility to wisely discern how these states dependently arise.
We will also apply our bright minds to some of the analytical practices offered in “Seeing that Frees”, which can bring refreshing, swift and surprising insights.
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 permeates our perception of experience. This path is almost always gradual, although not necessarily linear. Each step on it leads to more liberation.
In this course we will focus our explorations on the tendency to compare, make distinction, separate, and polarize experience in ways that limit how we are able to perceive, sense, and relate. Our explorations will be based on the fundamental ways of practicing we introduced in previous courses (practising with Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta as liberating ways of looking, Vastness of Awareness practices, and Samadhi). Building on these foundations, we will explore experience from a new vantage point – ways of practicing that open the possibility to realize that dualistic conception and perception are empty.
We will rely on Rob Burbea’s presentation of the Buddhadharma as offered in his emptiness teachings. In the spirit of Rob’s teachings, participants will be encouraged to practice with sensitivity, responsiveness, discernment and intelligence.
Practising in this way, we develop an understanding of our hearts that stays and grows in us beyond the deliberate meditative exploration – into our everyday experiences and encounters. As we learn to hold dualities more lightly, we can enjoy the freedom and healing that brings. Through exploring and understanding unitive and mystical states hidden by dualities, we can come to greater wisdom about the relationship between dualities and onenesses.
Course Approach & Topics
We will be offering a three strands of practice, all tied directly to this exploration of dualities:
1. Samadhi: Each week we will offer an opening practice that encourages the deepening of samadhi through encouraging unitive ways to perceive experience. These will include energy body practices, five elements practices, and variations on vastness of awareness practices. These practices will tend encourage harmony and settledness in the being, while also pointing to the relationship between clinging and dualistic perceptions.
2. Understanding Dualities: We will also offer a thread of exploration around the dependent arising of dualities as presented in “Seeing that Frees”. The practices offered will provide skillful ways of looking and contemplations to support this inquiry.
3. Analytical Meditations: Exploring traditional analytical meditations that offer support and an angle for seeing emptiness – “neither one more many”, “the unfindability of walking”, “diamond slivers” and more. We will discuss ways and tactics of applying them and develop sensitivity to the fruits they can offer.
As well, each week we will offer a short dharma talk elaborating on meditative skills, psychological aspects of this work, or mystical sensitivities.
Sunday Main Class Meetings: The main session will last 1 hour and 45 minutes, 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. Required
Q&A Sections of no more than 23 participants. They will last 30 minutes. You will be with the same Q&A section throughout the course. Q&A sections meet weekly at either 7:15 – 8 pm UK time on Sundays (after main meeting) OR Wednesdays at 6:00 – 6:45 pm UK time (after optional weekly guided meditation). When you register for the course you will be asked to indicate which Q&A section times are possible for you. Your group will meet with both Susy and Yahel (alternating between teachers). These Q&A sessions are an integral part of this course and all participants are expected to attend
Weekly 45 min guided meditation: offered on Wednesday at 5:30pm UK time. The Wednesday guided meditation is optional, and recording will be made available soon after the weekly session for participants. Optional.
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.
Expectation of Attendance: We ask that if you are unable to attend the sessions in person that you do not register for the course. We do limit the number of spaces for this course, and historically have more applicants than we can admit. As well, the Q&A sections for the course are not recorded, and we have designed the course in a way that relies on participants attending these sections.
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. For this course, we ask that you:
- Have been practicing meditation for one year or longer.
- Have attended at least 1 weeklong retreat or 2 weekend retreats.
- Have an affinity for Rob Burbea’s teachings
- Some experience with practicing insight / emptiness practices
- Access to Samadhi / whole body sensitivity.
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 is a devoted meditator and Dharma teacher. In 2013, After practicing in Theravada and Insight Meditation traditions, he met the Dharma teacher Rob Burbea and became his student. He was encouraged by Rob to teach the path of Emptiness to its depth; his unique approach to the Jhana practice; and to train in teaching Soulmaking Dharma. Yahel is also trained in Hakomi approach of assisted self study.
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.