Stephen Batchelor

Two of our Samsara – or How to Stop Going Around in Circles course teachers, Yuka Nakamura and Stephen Batchelor, share some of the thoughts behind the course, which starts on 3 March 2022.

You can read more about the course and register here.


Why did you decide to focus on the subject of Samsara? What does it mean to you personally?

Yuka; “The term samsara speaks to me and expresses the existential situation in which I find myself – a situation that we all share: The experience of suffering leading to more suffering, of worldly endeavours being ultimately pointless, the sense of never-ending tasks and challenges in life. To think about samsara gives me a vast, overall perspective in which to hold my experiences – it is like zooming out from the details of meditation practice and understanding the bigger picture, so that we don’t take it all so personally.”

“Also, the term samsara is the context and background for understanding what liberation or awakening means. How we understand liberation depends on our view on samsara, but there are very different views.”

Stephen: “I love the sound of the word “samsara,” even though I do not love what that word denotes. I recall a Buddhist centre in Nepal, who named the male and female toilets “Sam” and “Sara” respectively. On a personal level, “samsara” is shorthand for all the repetitive craziness that goes round and round in my head and round and round in the world.”

What was the thinking behind running this as a weekly session rather than a weekend course or retreat?

Stephen: “We wanted this course to extend over a month so that the participants could mull over the meaning of samsara not only during the sessions but between them as well, to get, as it were, a full immersion in this rich Indian idea.”

Yuka: “This format allows participants to learn and think and exchange different views about samsara and to apply these teachings in their daily life. To see samsara in action so to speak.”

What is your hope that participants get out of taking part in the sessions?

Yuka: “I hope that the contemplation of course will enrich and deepen understanding for participants of what practice and liberation means to them.”

Stephen: “Since the notion of samsara covers so much and the four teachers will explore it from different perspectives, I hope that each participant will learn something about samsara that speaks to their specific experience in ways they might not have suspected when they signed up for the course.”

You can register for Samsara – or How to Stop Going Around in Circles here.