Mondays: 7:30pm-9:00pm MDT
October 25-November 15, 2021
Includes optional Master Classes and a Home Flash Retreat
Zen-style spiritual realization enters the land of paradoxes. Have you noticed that the ego doesn’t like paradoxes? Join us for the third online course of 2021, on Zen.
Spiritual awakening consists of the embodied realization that the ego—our sense of a personal self—is overlaid on top of our direct experience of things as they are. And as such distorts our perception of reality. In fact, with awakening we realize that the ego isn’t necessary for happiness and can often obstruct it.
It sounds so simple. And teachings about it fill thousands of volumes of texts.
But the Buddha himself tried to share with his students this very simple, direct path that goes from ego struggle to its release, awakening.
How did the Buddha describe it? He merely held up a lotus flower, in silence.
While most of the attending students waited patiently for the Buddha to begin teaching, the arahat Mahākāśyapa smiled. He was the only one who understood that the flower was the teaching. As a result of his direct perception, he’s considered the first patriarch of Zen.
Achariya Doug Duncan Sensei & Catherine Pawasarat Sensei 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.
*We also highly recommend you consider participating in the full Zen Meditation Retreat in December 2021 at Clear Sky Center.
Class One: October 25th
Class Two: November 1st
Class Three: November 8th
Class Four: November 15th
The Buddha used a simple flower as a teaching of the profound nature of things as they are: so uncomplicated, so immediate, and so very difficult to explain.
So, you might ask, why bother explaining? Why study this? When instead we could just realize it ourselves, like Mahākāśyapa?
We explain because our conventional minds are clouded by ego clinging. This often manifests as conflicting emotions and prejudicial views, both considered forms of ignorance or confusion about reality.
For centuries Zen masters having been holding up flowers and students have been caught in this confusion, asking questions like, “What’s that flower got to do with me? Or awakening?”
Thus, the famous saying about awakening: “With words it cannot be described, without words it cannot be expressed.”
You’ve probably noted that holding up a flower doesn’t use words.
We can see how Zen-style spiritual realization enters the land of paradoxes. Rinzai Zen has made these famous with their ko-an mind-bending teachings. Have you noticed that the ego doesn’t like paradoxes?
And spiritual awakening is the ultimate paradox, described this way:
“You can see it,
But it is not there!”
We invite you to join us for these four online classes on Zen: Monday nights at 19:30 MT, Oct 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, followed by a weekend-long flash retreat on Sat and Sun, Nov 20 and 21.
There are weekly Master Classes (akin to online Q&A Office Hours) during this online course to support your deepening learning and practice, on the following dates at 3pm MST:
You can elect to attend all three or individual dates.
Registration & Dana links for Master Classes will be accessible to you when you register for the course.
Elect to deepen your practice via a Flash Retreat during the last weekend of this course. The retreat provides practitioners a valuable opportunity to integrate and seal the learnings from the online course, in a format well suited for our contemporary lives.
The retreat will include instructions, online check ins, and a Master Class on Sunday, November 21st.
We encourage you to attend this weekend retreat at Clear Sky Centre, or together with your local sangha, or if those not available to you, in your home.
Registration and Dana links for the Flash Retreat will be accessible to you when you register for the course.
Sangha power – consider organizing or joining regional in-person or online sangha groups to support one another during the online courses and Flash Retreats.
Each of the four weekly classes in this online course will be video streamed live at 7:30pm MST. The recording will be available for one week after each class.
We offer this course on the basis of dāna, as well as an admin fee of $100 (USD). The admin is to cover the costs of running these online courses – for equipment and software to provide you the teachings online.
For our teachings itself – You may have come across this is the form of “pay from the heart”. Dāna is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity”. With dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. 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. We suggest a range between $120 and $500 for this four week course.