Early Buddhism for Today

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Bodhi College Day of Celebration and Discovery . 

New thinking on mindfulness and a path of awakening in this life.

With the Bodhi teachers: Stephen Batchelor, Chris Cullen, Christina Feldman, Christoph Köck, John Peacock, Akincano Weber


Our Programme

9:00     Optional Morning Sit

9:30     Morning Coffee and Tea – an informal meet and greet

A selection of coffee and teas, plus fresh fruit and pastries. Meet former retreat mates and attendees from across the globe, including the Bodhi College teachers.

10:15    Welcoming Remarks

10:30    Liberating the practice of Studying – and liberating the student as well.  

Panel discussion - Bodhi teachers

Chaired by Madeleine Bunting

What Does Study Mean? 

The word study is often evocative of heads buried in books, shackled to the desk, assimilating conceptual knowledge. Join the faculty of Bodhi College as we redefine our understanding of ‘study’ as experiential knowing - an indispensable facet of the awakening process and the forerunner to transforming insight. 

In this dialogue we will discover the place of deep learning in reframing how life is experienced, the ending of distress, and our flourishing as human beings. 

11:30     Rebirth: A dialogue with Stephen Batchelor and Akincano Weber 

Chaired by Madeleine Bunting

Is the concept of rebirth vestigial or essential?

Is the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth just a vestige of Indian cosmology? Or is it a potent metaphor for understanding the human condition? In an attempt to unravel the confusions around the idea of rebirth, Akincano and Stephen will argue for and against what different traditions actually say about this topic rather than begin and end with their caricatures. 

A lively exchange that hopes to dispel some common misunderstandings and suggest what the concept of rebirth could mean for contemporary practitioners in a secular age.

12:30     Lunch

Guess what? Lunch will not be in silence… and no oatmeal! Instead, choose from among a variety of hearty and fresh vegetarian salad offerings, teas and juices, plus delicious desert selections.

1:30     Concurrent small group break-out sessions:

1) Universal Empathy

Christina Feldman and Chris Cullen

From its roots in India, in its evolution into Asia and then to the west, Buddhist practice lost the original qualities of universal kindness and compassion, joyfulness, and equanimity, which are often treated only as optional extras. But in the early Buddhist texts they are presented as the complete path of awakening.  

In the development of mindfulness in secular settings today, there is a recognition of the significance of these qualities; yet uncertainty about how to incorporate them fully in the teaching of mindfulness. 

In this session we will reflect on the growing recognition of the centrality of these qualities: how they can be cultivated and incorporated, not as separate pathways, but as the foundation upon which all pathways of awakening are developed.

2) Buddhism and the secular mindfulness world – learning from each other? 

Akincano Weber and Christoph Köck

One of the keys to secular mindfulness’s mainstream success has been that it’s often not taught or practiced as an element of Buddhism.  

Buddhist practitioners wonder: Does it go deep enough? Is it still right mindfulness when extracted from its Buddhist roots? Where are the ethics, the Brahmaviharas, the calm and the insight? 

Secular teachers wonder: Are mindfulness teachers smuggling stealth Buddhism into our health-care and educational systems? Is Buddhist religious ideology creeping back into our psychological departments, our schools and clinics? The legitimacy of mindfulness lies with science – why should it seek endorsement in pre-modern religions and traditions?

Two mindfulness teachers and Buddhist practitioners, both psycho­therapists, ex-monastics and deeply involved in secular mindfulness trainings, reflect on what secular mindfulness could learn from its Buddhist roots – and what Buddhists might learn from the secular mindfulness world.

3) Early Buddhism and Greek Philosophy

Stephen Batchelor and John Peacock

A discussion of some of the striking parallels between early Buddhism and the ancient Hellenistic philosophies of Skepticism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. 

Greek Skeptics such as Pyrrho prescribed the letting go of opinions in order to achieve ataraxia – untroubledness of mind. 

The Epicureans sought ataraxia through spiritual friendship and a simple life.

While the Stoics advocated the training of attention and the cultivation of emotional resiliency similar to the Buddhist concept of equanimity.

Are these similarities and others like them just accidental, or do they reveal a common ground of thought and practice at the roots of both Greek philosophy and Buddhist traditions? 

3:00     Social hour and refreshments

Book signing by Christina Feldman. “Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology”

Your opportunity to receive a personally signed copy (at 20% off) of the new book Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, co-authored by Christina and Willem Kuyken. Discover new thinking on mindfulness, a new exploration of our awareness and expression of integrity, and its profound effect on ourselves and others. The perfect take-away from today’s event.

Sitar playing by Bodhi teacher John Peacock 

4:00     Farewell Address

Event Details


STEPHEN BATCHELOR is a translator, teacher, artist and writer known for his secular approach to the Dharma. A co-founder of Bodhi College, his books include Buddhism Without BeliefsLiving with the Devil, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and After Buddhism. His most recent publication, The Art of Solitude, was published by Yale University Press in 2020. He lives in southwest France with his wife Martine.


Chris CullenCHRIS CULLEN has practised and studied the Buddha's teachings since 1994 and has been teaching Insight Meditation retreats since 2010. He is also on the teaching team of the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre, teaching Buddhist Psychology on the Masters course in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and running the mindfulness programme in the UK Parliament. He has a psychotherapy practice in Oxford.


CHRISTINA FELDMAN is a co-founder of Gaia House and a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Society, Barre, Massachussetts. The author of a number of books, she has been teaching insight meditation retreats internationally since 1976. She is one of the teaching faculty of the CPP programme, dedicated to the study and application of the early teachings of the Buddha and is engaged in teaching the Buddhist psychological foundations of mindfulness to those training to teach mindfulness-based applications in England, Belgium and the Netherlands. Her most recent book Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, written with Willem Kuyken, was published in the summer of 2019. 


CHRISTOPH KÖCK was born in Vienna, Austria, and spent 17 years of his life as a Buddhist monk in the Theravadin tradition. He lived mainly in monasteries connected with Ajahn Chah in Thailand and the West. Currently he lives in Vienna, working as a psychotherapist in a private practice. He teaches Buddhism and meditation internationally, and is trained to teach MBSR and MBCT. 


is both an academic and a Buddhist practitioner of nearly fifty years. Trained initially in the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition in India, he subsequently spent time in Sri Lanka studying Theravada. After doing a doctorate in philosophy, he taught Buddhist and Western philosophy and then Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol. He went on to be Associate Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, co-direct the Master of Studies programme in MBCT(Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) at Oxford University, and teach Buddhist psychology on the same course.  John is now retired from academia and continues to teach meditation, as he has done for more than thirty-five years.


AkincanoAKINCANO M. WEBER is a Swiss Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist (MA). A former monk, he has lived and practised for 20 years in European and Thai Forest monasteries. Particular interests are early Buddhist texts, stillness and contemplative psychology. He is the guiding teacher of Atammaya Cologne, Germany, part of the CPP programme and of several Mindfulness teacher training courses, and teaches meditation and Buddhist Psychology in secular and traditional contexts in Europe and overseas.