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“We really should say that reality is an infinite universe of empty, but we need words to wrap our cognitive brains around it.”

― Qapel Doug Duncan

Are you ready to deepen your meditation practice? Perhaps you’ve heard of ’emptiness’ or shunyata, but would like more experiential contact with it. In this retreat, we will study how we construct reality from false views and learn how to penetrate through this illusion into greater clarity, freedom and joy.

Join Qapel Doug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat Sensei for a week long insight meditation retreat on the deepening of the stages of emptiness. 

Registration Deadline: 

IN-PERSON – February 23rd, 2024

ONLINE – March 1st, 2024


focus area



One Week



Skill Level

In-Person & Online


The Five Stages of Emptiness

How deeply do you understand emptiness?  This retreat focuses on the progressive stages of meditation on emptiness. We will study, reflect and meditate on the spacious potentiality behind all phenomena. The aim here being to gain experiential, first hand physiological contact with the intellectural descriptions of emptiness from Buddhist philosophy or quantum physics.

This retreat is led by Qapel (Achariya Doug Duncan) and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei at Clear Sky Meditation Center in Eastern BC. We invite retreatants who wish to embark on a week of earnest study, meditation and reflection.

While we believe any undertaking can be a vehicle for awakening, there’s no substitute for the power of one’s own profound experience of truth, gained through meditation. This is why meditation is one of the four foundational practices of our teaching.

An online option is also available for those not in Western Canada, to make participation possible from anywhere in the world. However, online participants must attend in a retreat like setting in their own locations – in silence and free from distractions including work or family duties.

Texts for this course:

  • Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche (Author), Lama Shenpen Hookham (Translator) 
Guided meditations
Karma Yoga Calgary
Woman hking up mountain at a meditation retreat center

Meet the Teachers

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Qapel Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada.

Achariya Doug Duncan received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Doug embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state.

Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.

Arrivals and Departures

For those traveling short distances, please arrive by 3pm on March 8th. For those coming from international or longer distance travel, please plan to arrive 1-2 days early to allow time to rest and acclimatize before the start of retreat. 

Departures will begin on March 17th, however we also recommend adding some extra nights to your stay for a more easeful transition from retreat to daily life.

If you have questions about the retreat, please phone (250) 429-3929, or contact [email protected]

Western Retreat Center

About Clear Sky

Located in the BC rocky mountains, we offer over 300-acres to deepen your practice and reconnect with nature. 

Founded by Qapel Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei, we are home to students from around the globe who are dedicated to co-creating a supportive and innovative space for awakening in our modern world.

In adherence with our quadruple bottom line, we source our food as local and organic as possible.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW on how to get here, what to bring and what to expect. 

Clear Sky Meditation Centre sanctuary
a plate of food including avocado
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What’s Expected of Me?

  1. An open mind and heart, and a spirit of adventure are excellent things to bring!
  2. It’s human to have some apprehensions about doing something new, meeting new people, or going to a new place. Particularly when all three happen together. We try to make this as supportive as possible.
  3. When exploring our growth edges, it’s natural to feel uncertain and awkward. And it’s very fruitful to transform that emotional tension into creative energy by drawing on your own inner resources – such as inquiry, going with the flow, and self-reflection, just a few of the many kinds of constructive engagement.
  4. To maximize your retreat experience, we ask that you refrain from reading, using the internet, phone or listening to music during the course.
  5. Students are expected to be silent during the silent parts of the retreat, and participate in all classes, group meditations, activities, and discussions.
  6. We ask that you refrain from microdosing or consuming mind-altering substances in the days before this retreat, during, and in the days immediately following it.
sun rising over meditation center in BC



This retreat is offered on the basis of dāna (generosity).

Dāna is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity”, and is the traditional way in which Buddhist teachings are offered.  With dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. You may have come across this in the form of “pay from the heart”. It’s our joy to offer this course, and we trust you’ll match our time, energy, and passion by giving an amount of money that feels good and healthy to both you and us.

You will be sent a link to offer “dana” to the teachers after registration. 

For more information on dāna click here.

Pricing: As a charitable organization, we strive to provide locally sourced organic meals and comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. Fees vary depending on your accommodation choice and early bird pricing.

In order to bring you this retreat at home, there is an additional admin fee* of $350 CAD. The admin fee is to cover the costs of running these online courses – for equipment and software to provide you the teachings online.

If you are taking this retreat online, we require that you devote your full attention to the retreat for the entire week.

Requirements include:

  • Block out the retreat duration and be focused on the retreat for this entire period, using this time and participating in the retreat as if you were at Clear Sky in person.  This includes a rigorous, full, daily meditation schedule.
  • Participate in all of the daily classes and group practices via online streaming.
  • Set up a quiet space or location where you can focus on the Meditation Retreat, and not need to engage in conversation or work with others.
  • Put away your phone, digital devices and other distractions.
  • If there are enough people in the same time zone as you, you could also make a cohort to meet to do a group practice throughout the retreat.
  • Note: full details/ requirements will be sent to you after registering

About the administrative fee*

In a traditional model of in-person teachings, a retreat center or urban meditation center invites teachers to visit. In these cases the centers have infrastructure and organization costs to cover, which might be covered by an admin fee. For the teaching itself, dāna to the teachers is offered in a bowl. This honors both the sustainability of the teachers and of the supporting center.

We’ve tried to recreate this approach online.
The teachers’ time and the teaching themselves are offered on the basis of dāna, separate to the admin fee. With our dāna offering we are making a direct gift of generosity to the teachers to support their teachings and livelihood. Learn more about the practice of dāna here.

The admin fee goes to support the infrastructure and organization necessary to support them to teach. As anyone with an online business will know, it can be surprising the costs of setting up a good infrastructure to support effective teaching and connection online.

Below are a few of the work and benefits that your admin fee payment is supporting:

  • high speed internet (to allow interviews and classes on-line)
  • online class systems (Zoom)
  • registration / admin systems (Eventbrite, Basecamp)
  • communication systems to keep everyone informed, share connection details, teachings and other resources (Mailchimp)
  • online storage (for example, Dropbox, to allow us to let students watch recordings and to store and share selected teachings in other forms such as podcasts and videos after the Teachings)
  • quality sound, video and editing equipment (both for live teachings and to provide good enough quality for later sharing as podcasts and video). We are regularly updating our equipment to improve your user experience.
  • online calendar booking system to allow students to book interviews
  • website hosting and maintenance for sharing upcoming courses, teachings, blogs and other resources.

May all our efforts be sustainable, abundant and for the benefit of all beings!

Specific times may change – this is a rough guide (MST)

6:30 – 7:30 AM: Walk &/or Personal Practice
7:30 – 8:15 AM: Breakfast: Prepare, eat, clean up
8:15 – 8:45 AM: Walk &/or Personal Practice
9:00 – 10:00 AM: Class with Teachers
10:00 – 10:30 AM: Walk
10:30 – 11:30 AM: Group Practice led by Sangha
11:30 – 12:30 PM: Personal Practice
12:30 – 1:30 PM: Lunch: Prepare, eat, clean up
1:30 – 3:00 PM: Personal Practice
3:00 – 4:00 PM: Group Practice led by Sangha
4:00 – 5:30 PM: Personal Practice
5:30 – 7:00 PM: Dinner: prepare, eat, clean up
7:00 – 7:30 PM: Walk &/or Personal Practice
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Group Practice and Q & A with Teachers
8:30 – Beyond: Personal Practice & bed

We recognize and respect plant medicine as an important part of some people’s spiritual paths. 

Please note, the meditation practice on this retreat is very powerful. Consuming mind-altering substances will detract from your experience and could cause negative side-effects. 

We ask that you refrain from microdosing or consuming mind-altering substances in the days before this retreat, during, and in the days immediately following it.

We aim to make our retreats as accessible as possible. 

As a centre run entirely by Karma Yoga (selfless service), retreat fees only cover food, accommodation and the equipment required to offer them online. We do not have paid staff. 

The teachings themselves are offered on the basis of Dāna (pay-from-the-heart). 

For some, this is still a barrier of entry.

If you are seeking financial assistance to attend a retreat, please complete a Scholarship Application form.

Orange flowers in field at meditation retreat center