Day Retreat: Studies in Peace and Wisdom

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Led by Chris Dornan, Saturday 16th February, 10am-5pm, Bodhi Garden.

The civilized self-image of the West is based in the 18th century Enlightenment and the 17th century Scientific Revolution. We are more liberal, egalitarian, independent and knowledgeable than any of our forbears or any of our contemporaries outside of the first world. Yet we are also one of the most martial people in history, seemingly perpetually at war, and our collective spending on ‘defence’ today dwarfs that of the rest of the world.

Peace movements in the West have sought to reconcile this dichotomy by fingering a profiteering elite, so demonising the warmongers in our midst. A common feature of many peace movements is a shared anger at the ‘other’.

Yet for religious/wisdom traditions in general, and Buddhism in particular (the philosophies of our ‘unenlightened’ forbears and contemporaries) tells us that war is derived from anger; that love is the antidote to anger; and that we should first remove the beam from our own eye. We need to conduct a more searching analysis of our own philosophy if we are to have any hope of becoming more peaceful.

This day retreat will use Buddhist meditation techniques to establish stability and focus of mind before examining our own Enlightenment philosophy. Such insights may help to establish the peace in our lives, that will act as the essential catalyst for making our own societies more peaceful.

Retreat Schedule

10:00 Introduction – Peace Politics – wars, social breakdown & philosophy

14:00 Guided meditation

10:25 Peace now! – meditation as an aid for peace and clarity

14:00 Neoconservatives, liberal interventionism, the media & our virtue

10:40 Guided meditation based on the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

14:20 Discussion

11:00 Tea break

14:40 Tea break


15:00 Guided meditation

11:20 The 18th c. Enlightenment – shock of the Newtonian synthesis – Hume, Rousseau & Kant – the Romantics & the modern narrative

15:20 Jane Austen: Enlightenment critic and shaper of modernity – changes in meaning of ‘candour’ – the virtue of the other

11:50 Discussion

15:40 Discussion

12:30 Lunch

10:00 Guided meditation


10:00 Conclusion



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