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In the famous Kalama Sutra, the blueprint for a humanistic approach to Buddhism, the Buddha stressed the importance of cultivating the four Brahma-Viharas—goodwill, compassion, gratitude and equanimity:

“The disciple of the Noble Ones who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom these solaces are found here and now: ‘If there is a hereafter and there is a fruit of deeds done well or ill, then after the death of this body I shall arise in the blissful heavenly world; and if there is no hereafter, then I keep my self in this world—here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and happy.’”

In this three-day Cultivating the Brahma-Viharas retreat, participants will learn how to use the Brahma-Viharas meditations for self-exploration and to improve relationships with others. Along with traditional practices described in the Visudhimagga, participants will also learn how Naikan and Rational Buddhism (RB) can enhance their spiritual lives.

The schedule will include:

Dharma talks
Guided meditation, silent meditation and walking meditation
Journaling and other written self-exploration exercises
Qigong sessions (optional)
The retreat will be led by Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan, dharma teacher for Volusia Buddhist Fellowship. Sensei Sullivan is a minister with the Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism and former Theravada Buddhist monk. He teaches tai chi and qigong for Volusia-Flagler YMCA and is the author of Wisdom ~ Compassion ~ Serenity: First Steps on the Buddhist Path. One-on-one meetings can be scheduled with the sensei during the practice periods.

Core teachings will come from the Visudhimagga or Path of Purification, by Bhadantacarya Buddhaghosa, a classic manual from the Pali Buddhist Canon. It is a comprehensive guide to Theravada Buddhist meditation, but its instructions also influence Tibetan practices like Tonglen, contemporary Vipasssana (Insight Meditation) and other meditation traditions.

Naikan, which means “looking inward,” is a Japanese practice developed by a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist in the 1940s. It is a structured method of self-reflection that helps us look at our lives from a different perspective.

Rational Buddhism uses methods developed by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. in Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy to help the practitioner understand how the Seals of the Dharma apply to daily life. Rational Buddhism is in its pioneering stage, being developed by Sensei Sullivan along with Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis and Dr. Kenneth Kenshin Tanaka.

Practice periods will include both formal and informal meditation sittings and are appropriate for both beginners and experienced meditators. Each participant will receive a workbook for Naikan and REBT journaling. The workbook also includes step-by-step instructions for the Brahma-Vihara meditations and other material to help them continue these practices after the retreat.

Download the Brahma-Viharas Retreat Schedule.

The instruction given at this retreat is a gift of the dharma. Contact the Gainesville Retreat Center for information and pricing for meals and accommodations.

The Gainesville Retreat Center is at 1551 SE 51st Street, Gainesville, Florida 32641. Phone:[masked]. email: [masked].