The Practice of Human Flourishing : Residential Study Retreat on Early Buddhism and Greek Philosophy
Retreat with John Peacock and Stephen Batchelor

Location: ITC, Naarden (the Netherlands)

This retreat will focus on the striking parallels between the teachings of Gotama, as found in the early Buddhist discourses, and those of Socrates, the Sceptics, Epicureans and Stoics as recorded in the texts of Greek philosophy. Not only did these two traditions emerge in the same historical period (Gotama and Socrates were contemporaries), they took for granted that dharma/philosophy originated in astonishment at being alive, involved a therapeutic practice with teachers who were compared to doctors, and aimed at enabling human flourishing through the cultivation of an ethical way of life.

By returning to the sources of Buddhism and Greek philosophy we discover a common thought-world animated by similar questions about what it means to be human. In emphasizing the centrality of training (ascesisin Greek, sekhain Pali), both traditions encourage critical reflection, the refinement of attention, and commitment to an “examined life” in order to respond to these questions.

During this retreat we will draw widely from early Buddhist and Greek sources to find inspiration for the practice of becoming fully human in the 21st century. In addition to mindfulness and collectedness, we will introduce contemplative reflections on themes such as death. Time will be divided between talks, enquiry (in large and small groups), and silent meditation.