This is a pubic talk given by Alistair ahead of his weekend course on 'I see you Mara' at the Cardiff Samye Dzong.
Central to all our spiritual practice is the needful awareness of what John Welwood calls "spiritual bypassing" or Chogyam Trungpa called "spiritual materialism". There is a constant danger that the thing we do to free ourselves from the damaging patterns of the past gets co-opted by those very patterns.
Most acutely we can notice this when we subtly or not so subtly use meditation in order to make us feel protected from the knocks of life. It's natural to want to be more comfortable, to want to minimise the stress of life and to get some 'me-time' but when meditation is hithched to this project of "ego-snugness" then the safety can soon become suffocation.
Looking at ways in which we can keep our practice connected to the realities of life and prevent ourselves from become isolated, uncompassionate cocoon-dwellers, this talk is open to all.
All proceeds of the collection go to the Samye Wales Centre.
At the moment of his enlightenment the Buddha defeated the force of ignorance and suffering, known as Mara, by uttering the words: "I see you, Mara".
Taking that as the starting point, Alistair will use this weekend to unmask the 'psychological Mara' that confounds our natural happiness and warm-heartedness with layer upon layer of deadening beliefs about our selves and the world.
Meditation and therapy give us tools to cut through those heavy stories about ourselves - in particular, the Buddha's insight into 'dependent origination', which explains how they arise so compulsively. Once we see 'Mara' in action then we can cut through the distortions and start living in a freer, more spontaneous and more light-hearted way.
This is a course suitable for beginners and practitioners wanting to refresh their practice. Some of the practises will be done lying down.
Starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm each day.
This is a public talk at the Scarborough Samye Dzong given by Alistair ahead of his weekend retreat 'Tender is the Heart'.
Speaking partly with his therapist hat on, Alistair will be exploring the fascinating subject of dissociation and how this also impacts our ability to love, relate and connect to the World around us.
The notion 'greying-out' life experience that clashes with our image of our self, or that upsets our sense of safety in the world, is a concept first proposed by the French psychologist, Pierre Janet. Oddly, although it makes perfect sense, it was 'airbrushed' out of history by the much more influential theories of Sigmund Freud. But in the last few decades it has become widely accepted and is a really useful way of understanding some of the repetitive and harmful patterns of 'not-seeing' that bedevil many of us.
Alistair ties this in with the Buddhist concept of 'ignorance' which is actually tremendously intelligent. But unexamined, dissociative patterns can stop us loving ourselves, loving our children and our partners, and they can lead to social and global blindspots which have become chronic and destructive.
All proceeds from the collection go to the Scarborough centre. No need to book but please let the centre know if you would like to come, to guarantee space: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alistair is back in Scarborough to teach a weekend course exploring the Buddhist practices around 'awakening the heart'. Traditionally these "bodhicitta" practices can be a little head-based and Alistair approaches them in a more somatic way, using the body as the gateway to interpersonal relationships. Taking a good look at how we really feel in our bodies when we think about ourselves and those around us and working with the strong gamut of emotions that arise in an embodied way. We'll be re-visiting classic practices like the "metta-bhavana" and "tonglen" in a new way.
The course is open to all levels, beginners and those wishing to approach these teachings from a fresh angle.
We begin at 10am and finish at 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday.