Lama Liz 2021 Elizabeth Monson

Emotional Resilience: Learning from Buddha’s Life Story

Lama Elizabeth Monson

March 31–April 3, 2022

Tuition $300 + 3 nights

The life story of the Buddha stands out in religious literary history as a powerful example of how one human being transformed his relationship to dukkha (discontentment or suffering). The Buddha discovered a way to live with boundless compassion, love, and wisdom. In this program, participants will examine the life story of the Buddha as a paradigm for exploring one’s own emotional resilience. We can learn to access our own innate place of refuge, rather than react to situations emotionally. In other words, we will explore a way of being that is unconditioned by reactivity.

buddha with lotus symbolizes emotional resilienceIn addition to exploring our own emotional resilience, we will draw on insights into the perspectives and sensibilities of the awakened person. We will focus on how the metaphorical descriptions of the Buddha’s experience provide a practical template for re-configuring our usually reactive experience. The Buddha’s four visions, renouncing his palace life, and his encounter with “Mara” under the Bodhi tree on the night of his enlightenment,  offer parallels for modern day experiences of difficult situations, emotions, and energies that we encounter in our daily lives.

This retreat combines close textual study with contemplative and meditation practice for a unique encounter with the Buddha as human being, archetype, inspiration, and embodiment of wisdom and compassion. Ultimately, we may learn that the Buddha’s life story is our own story.

Please read and understand SMC’s current COVID-19 policy at this link.

In the video below, Lama Liz discusses her book Tales of a Mad Yogi:  The Life and Wild Wisdom of Drukpa Kunley.

Learning Intentions

To learn how close interpretive readings of textual sources can deeply inform personal practice and ethical life; see how the Buddha’s example teaches us how to work with patterns of emotional reactivity without suppressing or bypassing them, in order to find liberation in the midst of daily life; and learn “shadow” practices — contemplative and meditative techniques that can enable us to be present with and metabolize our difficult states, just as they are.

Experience Level

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

Lama Elizabeth Monson

Elizabeth Monson, PhD, is the Spiritual Co-Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Managing Teacher at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. Liz was authorized as a dharma teacher and lineage holder in the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and has been studying, practicing and teaching Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages for over thirty years.

Some of Liz’s teaching interests include accessing and practicing with the powerful awakened energies and open awareness expressed through the natural world; providing tools for how to become free in everyday life; transmitting lineage teachings; and responding to contemporary social and spiritual issues as a path for liberation.

Liz has lectured at the Harvard Divinity School and is the co-translator of More Than a Madman: The Divine Words of Drukpa Kunley (2014), a translation of the autobiography of the mad yogi, Drukpa Kunley. She is the author of Tales of a Mad Yogi: The Life and Wild Wisdom of Drukpa Kunley (Snowlion, 2021) and is currently writing a book on Tantra for Shambhala Publications.

Program Details

Registration takes place from 2– 5 pm on your program start date. All participants and volunteer staff must check in at our Guest Registration house. Please arrive before 5 pm to check-in and settle into your accommodations. Your program begins with dinner, followed by an orientation. The Guest Registration house closes at 5 pm after which no one is available to provide information or orient you to your accommodations. All programs usually end at 12:30 pm on the program's departure date, followed by lunch. Further specifics regarding your program's schedule will be available upon arrival. If applicable, you will receive an email from the program coordinator in the week prior to your program with any additional information you may need.