Shattering the Great Doubt

Shattering the Great Doubt

7-night Residential Retreat

7:00pm Saturday 3rd December to
10:30am Saturday 10th December 2016

Leader: Simon Child

Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

The ancient Chinese Zen practices of investigating Huatou and Gongan (Koan) are best practised in a supportive environment such as this intensive silent retreat. As one becomes deeply absorbed in the practice, mental constructions drop away and one is confronted by a realisation that one does not know the nature of existence and one's fundamental assumptions of life are groundless. Staying with and cultivating this 'doubt', it can become all-consuming 'Great doubt' which may 'shatter', giving a direct insight into reality which may be what is known as an Enlightenment experience.

To progress in these methods requires a sustained focus and so this retreat is recommended particularly for those with previous experience of intensive retreat, and prior attendance at a Western Zen Retreat is advisable, but serious beginners are also accepted.

email: secretary(at)westernchanfellowship.org


Leader: Simon Child

Chan Master Simon Child, Jing-hong Chuan-fa, Guiding Teacher of the Western Chan Fellowship, is the third Dharma Heir of the late Chan Master Sheng Yen. Simon trained for over thirty years with both Dr John Crook and Master Sheng Yen, and was the Secretary of the Western Chan Fellowship from its founding until his appointment as Guiding Teacher in 2011.

Simon is married with two adult sons. His main career was as a GP, and he now works part-time for the National Health Service as a Clinical Informatics Advisor.

Maenllwyd, Wales

Maenllwyd is an old farm-building, several hundred years old in parts, in a remote valley in mid-Wales, UK. Modernisation extends to mains water only. There is no electricity, and no telephone, and no reception for mobile phones. Heat and light come from candles, gas and paraffin lamps, fires, and gas or paraffin stoves. No one passes by except occasional local sheep-farmers with their flocks. It provides an ideal environment for intensive meditation practice, which is the main emphasis of our retreats. The centre is not open to casual visitors, only for pre-booked residential retreats. We give full travel details on booking.

The meditation hall (Chan hall) is kept clean and dry and warm. It is a converted barn which enjoys the benefit of a modern wood-burning stove that both keeps the hall warm and fuels the hot showers. It also boasts modern, eco-friendly, composting toilets.

Sleeping accommodation is basic, the nearest equivalent being a sleeping barn as used by the YHA. Several people of the same sex sleep in close proximity, each with their own low bed and mattress. Typically this will be in the eaves of one of the main buildings with the roof beams visible above, and such areas can be draughty and dusty. Heating in these areas is minimal and this requires you to have adequate warm sleeping-bags and blankets along with warm night-clothing. Autumn, winter and spring can be surprisingly cold in these Welsh hills.

The yard is a traditional farmyard, and can be muddy in wet weather. Wellingtons or boots are advised for this area and for walks on the hillside.

Vegetarian food is cooked for us by an imaginative Zen cook, using fresh and largely organic supplies, and bread and cakes are made on the premises. Special diets can be catered for if the cook is advised in advance.

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