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SOLD OUT – Heart Sutra Retreat

with Susan Piver

September 8 - September 12

Please sign up for the Heart Sutra Waitlist



 

WHEN: September 8 ​– 12, 2021

WHERE: My house in Austin, Texas

Limited to 11 fully vaccinated participants

WHAT: A 4-day meditation retreat intensive that’s specifically designed to:

  • Create an environment for studying this profound text that is central to Mahayana Buddhism
  • Discuss how to chant the Heart Sutra and make it part of your daily practice
  • Review the chant line by line (each word is a teaching)
  • Practice meditation together intensively
  • Discuss the spiritual journey
  • Enjoy the loving power of Sangha!

 

Why this retreat?

The first time I ever meditated was in the Spring of 1993. I had no idea what I was doing, what to expect, or even much about the person who had volunteered to teach me, Sam, someone I had met once at a party. I just knew that it was the right thing to do. That said, I was still plenty nervous. 1993, y’all! Meditation was still considered strange. In any case, he kindly welcomed me into his home and asked me a few questions about my interest in meditation. I have no idea what I said in response. Then we sat on cushions on the floor opposite his very beautiful shrine and he handed me a piece of paper printed on both sides. “We’ll chant this together before we begin. It’s called the Heart Sutra. Just follow along with me and skip over the words you can’t pronounce.” We began:

Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Råjagriha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great gathering of the sangha of monks and a great gathering of the sangha of bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the dharma called “profound illumination” and at the same time, noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, while practicing the profound prajnaparamita, saw in this way…”

WHAT?

Why were we saying these words? What did they mean? I had no idea, but I stumbled along as suggested. Then he gave me meditation instruction and we sat together for 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes. It went by in a flash and was absolutely interminable.

What had I gotten myself into?

It is just now, nearly 30 years later, that I am beginning to intuit answers to these questions. In the interim, I have chanted the Heart Sutra almost every day, often with no more understanding than the very first time I ever recited it…while, at the same time, the meaning continues to ripen and deepen in ways that cannot be deciphered, only felt. It points to the truth of emptiness in a way that is unrelenting, challenging, heartening, confounding, and inspiring.

The Heart Sutra (or prajnaparamita sutra) is a seminal text within the entire Buddhist tradition, most particularly the Mahayana schools where it is the core practice. It is also a foundational practice within the Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhist traditions I have trained in.

A few years after I learned to meditate,

my meditation teacher (the same guy–still my meditation teacher!) invited me to a small weekend retreat with a few friends in upstate New York for the sole purpose of studying the Heart Sutra. For a few days, we practiced meditation, recited the Heart Sutra, memorized it, discussed it, recited it again, ate dinner…and then began again. It was a glorious experience.

Until now, it never occurred to me to offer a similar opportunity to the Open Heart Project. I have no idea why. But recently, I realized that my whole dharma life has been pointing to this possibility. The Heart Sutra initiated my life as a student. Before I ever meditated, it set the tone for the practice, perfectly, I might add. Our work together is called The Open Heart Project. The essence of heart-opening is the recognition of emptiness-luminosity. The sutra is about just this.

There is no better support for deepening your heart-opening than this remarkable sutra.

I am truly excited to invite you to practice and study this text with me at an in-depth (and joyful) in-person retreat in Austin, Texas, September 8-12. You will find the whole schedule below.

How will the retreat work?

This retreat will take place in my home and is therefore quite limited in terms of participation. I can comfortably fit 11 people (including one full scholarship).

PLEASE NOTE! This does not include sleeping accommodations or travel.

This program is by application to make sure that our gathering works for all. You may apply here and please submit with a $500 deposit here. The scholarship has been awarded.

  • To keep everything above board and safe, to attend this program, you must be fully vaccinated by August 18, 2021 (or July 28, 2021 if you receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine). We will ask for your vaccine card. It feels so strange to type that, but this is the only way we can securely offer the program. We will still take precautions like ensuring proper ventilation and frequent cleaning. Masks will not be required, but if you prefer to wear one, that is completely fine.

 

 

Where will I stay?

You are responsible for getting yourself to Austin and finding accommodations. I will send a list of nearby Airbnbs, in case that is a good choice for you.

The house is an easy 15-20 minute drive (depending on traffic) from the Austin airport.

Will I need a car?

It depends where you stay. I live in the heart of South Austin right on a bus line. It is also easy to call Uber or Lyft. The house is 2 miles from downtown Austin, so plan accordingly if you’d like to stay there.

What about food?

Lunch is included (there will be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options). Coffee, tea, water, juices, and some light snacks will be on hand throughout the day. You are responsible for other meals.

Breakfasts and dinners will be on your own. (A dinner out together is planned for Friday.) I will provide a list of great restaurants in different neighborhoods at a variety of price points.

 

What is the schedule?

The schedule is designed to give you a combination of structured time, personal space, and connection with your fellow students–and some time to enjoy Austin.

 


6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Opening session at my house: introductions, overview, discussion

 


6:30 am – 7:30 am Optional swim at Barton Springs!

9:00 am-10:30 am Opening practice session and introduction to the Heart Sutra

10:30 am-11:30 am Sutra memorization and study session

11:30 am-12:00 pm Practice session and discussion

12:00 pm-1:30 pm Lunch (at my house; included)

1:30 pm-3:00 pm Practice session and discussion

3:00 pm-4:00 pm Tea and snacks (included)

4:00 pm-5:00 pm Practice session

Dinner on your own

 


6:30 am – 7:30 am Optional swim at Barton Springs

9:00 am-10:30 am Practice session

10:30 am-11:30 am Sutra memorization and study session

11:30 am-12:00 pm Practice session and discussion

12:00 pm-1:30 pm Lunch (at my house; included)

1:30 pm-2:00 pm Practice session and discussion

2:00 pm-3:oo pm Discussion

3:00 pm-4:00 pm Tea and snacks (included)

4:00 pm-5:00 pm Practice session

7p Dinner together (included)

 


6:30 am – 7:30 am Optional swim at Barton Springs

9:00 am-10:30 am Practice session

10:30 am-11:30 am Sutra memorization and study session

11:30 am-12:00 pm Practice session and discussion

12:00 pm-1:30 pm Lunch (at my house; included)

1:30 pm-2:00 pm Practice session and discussion

2:00 pm-3:oo pm Discussion

3:00 pm-4:00 pm Tea and snacks (included)

4:00 pm-5:00 pm Practice session

Dinner on your own

 


6:30 am – 7:30 am Optional swim at Barton Springs

9:00 am-11:00 am Practice session

11:00 am-12:00 pm Closing conversation

12:00 pm-1:30 pm Lunch (at my house; included)

Farewells!

 

What should I bring?

All you need is comfortable clothes for lengthy sittings and study. I will supply meditation cushions, chairs, and whatever is needed for group meditation practice.

If you want to go swimming with me in the mornings, pack a bathing suit and towel. (There will be time after our swim to go back to where you’re staying to shower and change.)

September can be quite warm and dry in Austin, so pack accordingly. Temperatures average between 95F/35C in the daytime and 75F/24C at night.

What is included in the price?

  • 4 program days of study, meditation, and community
  • Meditation instruction and guided conversation about the Heart Sutra
  • 4 lunches (healthy, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options)
  • Dinner out together on Friday night
  • Coffee, tea, juices, water, light snacks throughout the day
  • Meaningful conversation with Susan and your fellow students

How much?

The cost is $1500. (Option to pay in three installments.) If you are not accepted into the program, you will be refunded promptly.

We offer one scholarship for the program. The scholarship has been awarded.

What is the refund policy?

A refund will be offered (minus the deposit) if you cancel by July 25, 2021.

What if I have other questions?

Email us! Happy to answer any questions.

FAQs

Where is your house? What neighborhood is it in?

The house is on Powell Circle in South Austin, just south of Oltorf and South First Streets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the neighborhood like?

Residential and quiet but very close to restaurants, shops, and fun South Congress Ave (aka “SoCo.”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you connect me with a roommate to help defray some of the expense?

Maybe. The application form has a space to indicate if you’d like a roommate. If there is more than one of you who does, I’ll introduce you and you can take it from there.

 

I love the idea of a morning swim. Will it be cold? How will I get there and is there a fee?

Barton Springs is a huge in-town, spring-fed pool and it is truly my happy place. The water is 68 degrees year-round. There is a huge parking lot. It is a short Uber/Lyft ride from either my neighborhood or downtown Austin. (Especially at 6:30 am!) There is no fee before 8:00 am.

Will I have to come to your house in my wet bathing suit?

No, there will be time to get back to wherever you’re staying to shower and change.

How will I get to your house?

Bus, carpool, Uber/Lyft, or, perhaps, walk (if you are staying close enough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where will we go to eat on Friday?

Not sure of the destination yet, but it will be healthy.

Hope to see you there! Love, Susan

 

Details

Start:
September 8
End:
September 12
Event Category: