Thinking Out Loud: Conversations on Early Buddhism

A weekly online study sessions via Zoom, suitable for new and experienced Dharma practitioners

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  • 5th April 2020 - 24th May 2020 
  • 8 Sessions - Sundays 4pm BST UK
  • 8 Q&A's - Following Thursdays 7pm BST UK
  • Once you register for this event, you will not be able re-register for further sessions.  If in doubt register and let us know if you are unable to attend. 
  • This programme is offered on a Dāna basis (pay what you can afford, payment link here, in your confirmation letter)

Martine Batchelor, Chris Cullen, Stephen Batchelor, John Peacock, Akincano Weber, Christoph Köck, Yuka Nakamura, Christina Feldman and Jay Rudgard. 


  • Please find detailed information on each session below
  • If you are unable to attend the live sessions, recordings we'll be made available via a separate event here



A weekly session offering an opportunity for dialogue and reflection with the Bodhi College faculty.

To support your practice and study during this time, each session is led by two of our teachers, focused on a particular topic with a follow-up discussion later in the week.   

We, at Bodhi College are offering our sangha a weekly opportunity to connect, and continue the process of study and practice together with our teachers. As many of our retreats this Spring are not able to go ahead in person, we realise how important it is to continue to resource ourselves at a time where it’s never been more needed.

With this in mind, we have picked themes for the sessions that will continue to support you and your practice in coming to terms with the new reality of our daily lives.

Please join us for these weekly sessions, offered on a dāna basis (pay what you can afford)

A Weekly Two-hour Zoom Broadcast on Sundays at 4 pm BST / 17:00 CET (2 hrs)

Two teachers of Bodhi College will present reflections on a chosen theme related to Early Buddhism. They will give their responses to each other’s presentations, and participants will be invited to engage with the topic in break-out groups. There will also be a period of silent reflection, and an opportunity for questions and comments from the audience.

The session will conclude with suggestions for deepening one’s practice and contemplative inquiry in the days ahead.

(No Zoom account is needed to participate).

Follow-up Session on the following Thursday 7 pm BST / 20:00 CET  (1 hr)

One or both of the teachers will discuss with each other and the audience their insights into the theme presented the previous Sunday. They will explore further ways of interpreting the material, while offering practical advice to help us embody its content in daily life.

Additional information:

  • If you are unable to attend, you will have the opportunity to sign up for the recordings after the event. Links to register here
  • The link to donate Dāna will be in your 'Further Instructions' Letter with your Course Instructions email.
  • An email  reminder with all essential information will be sent to each participants around noon on the day of each session. 


Event Details

Session 1: 

5th April at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 9th April at 7pm BST
The Brahma Viharas: Cultivating the four qualities in uncertain times

With Martine Batchelor and Chris Cullen

Join our teachers for a rich dialogue on how orientating towards, or remembering these qualities of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity can contribute to ours and others’ wellbeing in fearful times.
Explore the ways that these four orientations can enable and protect each other, providing practical support for resilience, resourcefulness and compassionate responding midst times of crisis and difficulty.
We’ll also look at ways we can cultivate them and offer opportunities to discuss your experiences alongside peers and teachers, as well as a period of silent reflection.

Session 2:

12th April at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 16th April at 7pm BST
Gotama and Socrates on Ethics: An enquiry into the nature of the ethical life as understood in discourses from the Pali Canon and the Socratic dialogues written by Plato.

With Stephen Batchelor and John Peacock

The speakers will share their understanding of the convergences and differences between Gotama, the Buddha, and his Greek contemporary Socrates. Both of these seminal teachers, it will be proposed, advocate a philosophy that is essentially concerned with leading an ethical way of life rather than establishing a dogmatic system of belief. Both likewise emphasize the importance for each person to become autonomous in his or her own life by means of critical enquiry and embodied practice.

Session 3:

19th April at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 23rd April at 7pm BST
Radical Awareness Directing attention to the roots (yonsio manasikāra)

With Akincano Weber and Christoph Köck

An invitation to join Christoph and Akincano in unravelling one of key teachings of Early Buddhism: how to develop the faculty of directing attention to the roots. As seminal aspect of both appropriate understanding and the growth of wisdom, the skill of yonsio manasikāra plays a crucial role in developing ethics, calm, insight and empathetic resonance. The teachers will draw on both scriptural and oral traditions and share their personal understanding of the twin-virtues in “nurturing skill in tracing conditions” and “finding skillful means”.  

Session 4:

26th April at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 30th April at 7pm BST

The urgency of the heart (saṁvega) : Deepening the existential response: an enquiry into the qualities of motivation, non-distraction and heartful perseverance.

With Akincano Weber and Yuka Nakamura

In this session Yuka and Akincano reflect on the emotional and motivational aspect of walking the Path and invite participants to deepen their own enquiry into an existential response that Buddhist Teachings call “the urgency of the heart”: saṁvega. The experience referred to by this term is universal while its layered notions are hard to capture in translation with any single term. The teachers will explore the imagery and role of saṁvega in Early Buddhist Psychology and trace its transformation into the Path factors of motivation, non-distraction, release and heartful perseverance.

Session 5:

3rd May at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 7th May at 7pm BST
The Art of Solitude

Reflections will be offered on some of the themes explored in Stephen’s new book The Art of Solitude (Yale University Press): meditation, philosophy, art and solitude itself. In times of confinement, how well do we succeed in being alone by ourselves? Are we able to be enriched by our own self-sufficiency without needing the approval of others? At the same time do we have the skills to share a confined space with others over a sustained period of time? We will explore how to cultivate a caring solitude that gives space both to ourselves as well as those with whom we share our lives.

With Martine Batchelor and Stephen Batchelor

Session 6:

10th May at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 14th May at 7pm BST

Knowledge, Insight, Embodiment

With Christina Feldman and Yuka Nakamura

The teaching on the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta are new to none of us. Intellectually we agree, experientially it is far more of a challenge to truly assimilate these teachings and live in the light of their implications. In moments when our lives are radically changed by conditions outside of our control we stand at a crossroads – we can react with fear and agitation or we can again discover the peace, calm and freedom found through our ability to embody the profundity of these teachings and have these understandings guide our speech, thought and acts.

Session 7:

17th May at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 21st May at 7pm BST

Pleasure, Liking and Craving - Buddhist and Psychological Perspectives: Exploring the metaphor of thirst; understanding the dynamics of pleasure, lack, gratification and appeasement.

With Akincano Weber and Christoph Köck

Early Buddhist Teachings uses the evocative term of  “drought” and “thirst” (taṇhā) to name an existential condition that compels beings to seek gratification and appeasement. The magnitude of the affect and the pathos of the ensuing pursuit is not done justice by the usual translation of “craving” – nor is the fact that desire also lies at the heart of the quest for excellence and liberation. Christoph and Akincano, both meditation teachers, psychotherapists and former monastics, explore the metaphor of thirst and attempt to unravel the dynamics of lack, seeking, appeasement and addiction. Realistic ways to practice with craving and its con­ditions in the light of Buddhist contemplative vision and Western psychology are suggested with a passing glance at recent research on pleasure and addiction.

Session 8:

24th May at 4pm BST with follow-up discussion 28th May at 7pm BST 

Finding Refuge in Difficult Times

With Christina Feldman and Jaya Rudgard

The heart qualities of kindness, joyfulness, compassion and equanimity teach us how to be present in the midst of all events, circumstances and moments without being overwhelmed.  These qualities offer a true refuge and are profound doorways to transforming the most obstructive qualities of fear, aversion, despair and confusion.  During this online programme we will explore how we can cultivate these relational qualities as we navigate our way through uncertainty and a life changed by conditions beyond our control or choosing.  The Buddha taught that we can find a way of being present in this world, not being hostage to its conditions but remaining fully responsive to them. When our worlds crumble the teachings remind us of how important it is to draw upon the seeds of potentiality we hold in our hearts of kindness, compassion, joyfulness and equanimity.


MARTINE BATCHELOR author of Meditation for Life, The Path of Compassion, Women in Korean Zen and Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. Her latest works are the The Spirit of the Buddha, What is this? and The Definition, Practice and Psychology of Vedana.  She is a member of the Gaia House Teacher Council.  She teaches meditation retreats worldwide and lives in France. Recently she has been involved with the Silver Sante Study, teaching meditation, mindfulness and compassion to seniors in France to see if this could prevent ageing decline.

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.


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.

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. 


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. 



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. 


YUKA NAKAMURA has practised Buddhist meditation in different traditions since 1993, has a PhD in Developmental Psychology and is a certified MBSR-teacher. Trained as a Buddhist meditation teacher by Fred von Allmen she teaches meditation at Beatenberg (Switzerland), Gaia House (UK), Insight Meditation Society (Barre, MA) and other places. Yuka offers MBSR-courses and MBI-trainings at the CFM Zentrum für Achtsamkeit (CH).


Jaya new
began meditating in the 1980s and practised for eight years as a nun in the Thai Forest tradition in England with Ven. Ajahn Sumedho as her teacher. She is a graduate of the Insight Meditation Society/Spirit Rock Teacher Training and teaches Insight Meditation and mindfulness in the UK and internationally. Jaya is a qualified yoga teacher and a certified Holden Qigong instructor.