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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Clear Thinking in Birmingham: 'Asking the Right Questions'

Jnanaketu, leader of the 'Clear Thinking' coursesComing up soon at the FWBO’s Dharmapala College in Birmingham is a new sort of retreat. Specifically it’s a “Level Two Clear Thinking Workshop” entitled ‘Asking The Right Questions’.

The course leader, Jnanaketu, says – “This short course will briefly review the main areas of clear thinking skills using material directly related to the Dharma – identifying and developing arguments, identifying ambiguity, hidden assumptions and fallacies, and formulating questions.  Using clear thinking in study groups is an area that I have been thinking and writing about over recent months. Two articles can be downloaded from the Dharmapala College website.

"Most of the time will be spent practising applications of clear thinking, which will probably include: examining ways of identifying and reflecting on views, practising the Elenkhos (investigating a topic by means of collaborative questioning), and using clear thinking skills to participate in and lead Dharma study groups effectively.

"Completely new for 2008 is 'Insight Dialogue', a very effective way of reflecting in pairs on short Dharma texts and views. I am also keen that we should cultivate metta (loving-kindness) in the course of practising these applications". 
The Dharmapala College is something of a new venture for FWBO retreats – they see their principle task as that of building a ‘Community of Enquiry’, describing it thus –

“Dharmapala College plays an active part in the emerging Buddhist culture in the West. Initiated by members of the Western Buddhist Order, it invites the participation of everyone inspired by the ideals of collaborative enquiry into reality and open-handed sharing of understanding and experience. With the ending of the two-year Dharmaduta Training Course, we have been shifting our main emphasis to developing a ‘Community of Enquiry’ as the core practice inspiring our teaching activities.

“By 'enquiry' we mean dharma-vicaya, understood as practice (bhavana) comprising both critical investigation and contemplative reflection, and culminating in an ever deeper experience of insight. Our notion of enquiry thus rests on a mutually reinforcing combination of study, meditation, and devotional practice. Most simply put, the “enquiry” aspect of our vision seeks to cultivate the four iddhipadas or bases of spiritual success: concentration of intention, of energy, of mind, and of investigation”.

You can read more about this on their website, and find details of their retreats (and many others) on our GoingOnRetreat website.  Highly recommended!

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