IMS’s Forest Refuge program supports experienced meditators in sustained, longer-term retreat practice. A personal retreat, under the guidance of the following teachers, helps strengthen practice faith, confidence and self-reliance.
^ Awareness and Wisdom Retreat. The teachings during this month will explore the four foundations of mindfulness with open awareness and receptive attention, with an emphasis on recognizing the attitude of mind and cultivating the perspective of wise view. The teachings are influenced by both teachers’ practice with Sayadaw U Tejaniya. We request that you agree to work with the instructions that we offer during the retreat.
Practice discussion meetings will primarily be in small groups, meeting twice a week. The teachers will offer some sign-up interviews, so there will be a chance for a private meeting if there is something you don’t feel comfortable bringing up in the group.
Priority will be given to anyone applying for the full month of June or longer; a minimum stay of two weeks is required. Arrivals or departures will only be possible on June 1, 15 or 30.
°Practical Causality Retreat: Seeing Causes and Conditions Intimately. Insight into causes and conditions is an important aspect of Buddhist practice, permeating most of the teachings, such as Dependent Arising, Karma and the Four Noble Truths. By investigating conditionality in our moment-to-moment experience, we become intimately familiar with our own personal conditioning. We can find ease within these causes and conditions through recognizing the impersonality of their nature – personal insight serving as a doorway to liberating universal insights.
On this retreat, we will first practice stabilizing and nurturing our hearts and minds through metta (lovingkindness) and other mind-calming (samatha) practices. Our practice of vipassana (insight) will specifically explore the many aspects of causal relations within the simplicity of our lived experience. Dharma talks, instructions and practice meetings will support this gradual development.
Participants are expected to observe the eight precepts, if they are able to do so. Priority will be given to anyone applying for the full month of July or longer.
++ A lottery was conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications for the lottery were due by July 26, 2017. Priority was given to anyone applying for Ajahn’s entire teaching period or longer. Participants are expected to follow his schedule and instructions, which include observance of the eight precepts.
+ Arrivals and departures are not possible January 23–29, 2019.
* Samatha/Concentration Retreat. The focus of the teachings throughout this month will be on samatha (concentration) practice. Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) and/or metta (lovingkindness) instructions will be offered. The daily schedule will include sitting and walking meditation periods, with individual variations set in consultation with the teachers.
A minimum stay for the full month of February is required.
After leading retreats at IMS for almost 30 years, Marcia Rose will be retiring in 2019. This will be her final IMS teaching session.
^ Priority will be given to anyone applying for the full month of May or longer. Participants are expected to follow Ajahn’s schedule and instructions, and to observe the eight precepts if they are able to do so. A lottery will be conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications are due by June 5, 2018.
° The Still Heart of Awareness. This retreat will strengthen our understanding and experience of the nature of awareness in meditation practice. We will explore this in three stages. During the initial part of the month, we will build meditative stability through a focus on anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing). In the next phase, we will undertake intensive practice of metta (lovingkindness), allowing the beautiful and responsive qualities of heart to unfold. Then, with concentration and lovingkindness as our foundation, the last stage of the retreat will focus on specific meditative techniques that allow us to rest in the pure nature of awareness. The teachers will offer regular meditation instructions, talks about the teachings and individual meetings. A minimum stay for the full month of June is required. Participants are expected to follow the sequence of instructions as they are given. A lottery will be conducted for this course; applications are due by July 25, 2018.
++ This month of practice will emphasize the teachings and practices of early Buddhism, especially those of the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah. In addition, there will be a focus on the teachings of Master Hsuan Hua from the later Chinese Tradition. Throughout the month there will be an interweaving of both of these streams of practice, co-informing each other and presenting an integrated whole.
The first half of the retreat will focus on cultivating embodied samadhi – calming and unifying the mind/heart/body energies. This leads into the wisdom practices – vipassana – and an exploration of the relationship between calm and insight as foundations for realization of the deathless Dharma.
The second half of the month will emphasize emptiness and compassion, emerging from and supported by the first part of the retreat. There will be an exploration of the Bodhisattva Way through the cultivation of the Kuan Yin dharmas. The Bodhisattva heart balances “letting go” practices with “picking up” a skillful and compassionate relationship to the world. The archetype of compassionate wisdom in later Buddhism is Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, the One Who Listens to the Sounds of the World at Ease.
Every morning there will be a bowing, sitting and chanting session.
The practice of chanting, mantras and ceremony is an area of Buddhist practice which is often challenging for Westerners, and therefore sometimes dismissed or overlooked. While we encourage each retreatant to find a relationship with the teachings and practices in a way that honors their own process, we request that these practices are engaged with as fully as possible as part of the overall commitment entering this monthlong retreat.
A minimum stay for the full month of October is required. A lottery will be conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications are due by September 3, 2018.
Here at IMS, our teachers are continuing the ancient Buddhist monastic tradition of freely offering the teachings while living in the midst of contemporary society. What this means is that they rely on the generosity of retreat participants for a sustainable income.
There is an opportunity at the end of your personal retreat to make an offering to teachers – this is known as teacher dana. At the Forest Refuge, where retreatants often stay for long periods, IMS supplements teacher dana as needed to provide an adequate offering.
Your contributions help teachers to lead a life devoted to teaching both at IMS and in other parts of the world, including communities without the means to donate. Your gifts also allow teachers to take time for their own practice, ensuring that their teachings are continuously enriched.