Life, death, calamity or trouble – let them all be, and you enter the realm of Awakening without leaving the realm of delusions.” – Yuanwu

Yuanwu’s teaching of koan practice marked a turning point in the evolution of koan practice; he tried hard to shift people’s attention from the literary meaning of koans to their instructive aspects and practical function. By so doing, he revitalized koan practice, which had slipped into being a pastime of the literary elite. The way he summed up his approach to koan practice was “Hear the words outside the voice; do not seek for anything within the meaning.”. Once a student asked Yuanwu, ’What is the essence of all the scriptures?’, he replied, ‘Thus I have heard.’ That is the phrase that all of the scriptures of the Buddhist canon begin with and in so saying, he is advising us to stay right where we are, at the beginning and to listen carefully, to ourselves, to each other and to the sound of a dragon howling in a withered tree.

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The Urban Retreat format is a user friendly, easily approachable way of participating in a meditation retreat. Starting at 9:30 we will have three 25 minute periods of meditation with a break in between each. Then we will explore the ‘random meditation’ of having tea and conversation together before comparing field notes about our experience with the koan. Then we will have a two hour break for lunch, bring your own or explore one of the fine restaurants in Rockridge and in the afternoon we will meditate, hang out with another koan and have a conversation about our experience, ending at 5:00 pm.

The retreat will be limited to 16 people to preserve an intimate atmosphere for sharing deeply what arises in meditation. 

Fee: $65 members & $85 non-members  

Registrar: Vickie Miller –

Note: Free weekend parking at the Rockridge BART Station 3 blocks North of RMC Center