We will again have the great opportunity to host the venerable Robina Courtin, the previous visit to the Institute in 2015, and to follow her teachings in the context of a retreat based on Lojong (Mental Training).
Strength and practicality are the characteristics that distinguish the way of teaching of ven. Robina and any advice given by her awakens from the laziness and inactivity of Dharma practice like a sudden clapping. Following this retreat can help us greatly to find ways to apply the words of our Masters in action.
From 21 to 26 January we will be able to listen to her, meditate on her advice and even discuss directly in the question sessions.
We will also have the opportunity to get to know her, not only as a teacher but also as a testimonial of the Liberation Prison Project, a social activity dedicated to the recovery of the person in prisons, through the introduction of Buddhism and meditation, founded by her in the United States in 1996 and then spread over time to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Mexico and Mongolia.
Liberation Prison Project has been active in Italy for more than ten years in some penitentiary institutions with individual or group awareness courses for prisoners and prison staff, and enjoys the patronage of the Italian Buddhist Union.
On Friday 24 January at 18.00 the retreat will in fact include a conference open to the public outside the retreat where the Project will be presented in its Italian and worldwide reality.
In the first part of the conference the activities of Liberation Prison Project Italy will be presented, the venerable Robina will intervene to follow, in sharing the experience “Dharma in action”.
Those who wish to know the work and founding values of the Liberation Prison Project directly from the voice of its founder, are invited to participate in the public conference.
At 9.00 pm the retreat will continue together with the volunteers of the Liberation Prison Project and also to those who attended the conference and want to join in the meditations and listening to Robina’s advice.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings the early morning sessions will be led by the venerable Dario Doshin Girolami abbot of the Zen Center L’Arco and by the venerable Franz Seiun Zampiero, Buddhayana monk, both volunteers of the Liberation Prison Project Italy.
Their contribution will enrich this retreat with the shared practice of other Buddhist traditions with the aim of increasing the spirit of cohesion towards the common attainment of enlightenment.
We deepen the subject of the withdrawal through the presentation of the ven. Robina
The development of compassion and bodhichitta is the point of the path to enlightenment, the end result: the removal of all separateness from others and the spontaneous capacity to benefit all sentient beings perfectly: the courageous attitude of the bodhisattva.
Why “courageous”? Because genuine compassion encompasses all living beings, including the harmers, the negative ones, not just the innocent victims. The great bodhisattvas are fierce in their determination to never give up on sentient beings: they “think in terms of eons,” as His Holiness the Dalai Lama says. One of the most powerful methods to go beyond ego and thus be able to benefit others is to happily greet our problems.
As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says,
“The thought of liking problems should arise naturally, like the thought of liking ice cream!” Why think this way?
We all experience one kind of problem or another. They seem to come without warning, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. We assume they’re bad and do everything we can to push them away, and when we can’t we suffer even more.
But given that our job is to lessen attachment, anger and the other painful emotions and grow our compassion, wisdom and the rest, it follows logically that the perfect opportunity to do this is when things go wrong.
When we’re clear about our goal – the fulfillment of our own marvellous potential and the capacity to benefit others – welcoming our problems and transforming them into happiness is without doubt the quickest path to success. It’s the most difficult practice, the most radical, but the most rewarding.