Lama Liz 2021 Elizabeth Monson

Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Buddha’s Life Story

Lama Elizabeth Monson

August 19–22, 2021

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) and discovered a way to live with boundless compassion, love, and wisdom. Participants will examine the life story of the Buddha as a paradigm for exploring one’s own emotional resilience. Rather than reacting to situations emotionally, we can learn to access our own innate place of refuge. In other words, we will explore a way of being that is unconditioned by reactivity.

In addition to exploring our own interpretation of the Buddha’s story, we will draw on insights into the perspectives and sensibilities of the awakened person as described in four different versions of the Buddha’s life. We will focus on how the metaphorical descriptions of the Buddha’s experience of encountering the four visions and renouncing his palace life, and the descriptions of his encounter with “Mara” under the Bodhi tree on the night of his enlightenment, provide a practical template for re-configuring our usually reactive experience of the 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.

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.

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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.