Online: Exploring Anatta – The Skill of Disidentification and the Emptiness of Self

A Gaia House online course with Juha Penttilä

Monday evenings:  18 October – 29 November 2021


This course is not suitable for people new to meditation. A thorough familiarity with mindfulness practices is required for participation, and an openness to new ways of approaching practice is helpful. In addition to meditation there will be some study material on the course and participants are expected to take on these practices for the duration of the course.



Image of TeacherJUHA PENTTILÄ has been practicing meditation since 2002. He has spent extended periods of time on retreats and in monasteries in Asia and Europe and is one of the founding members of Nirodha, the Finnish Insight Meditation practice community. Juha completed his Insight Meditation teacher training in 2020. In addition to exploring meditation, Juha’s teaching is influenced by the current climate crisis and engaged perspectives into the Dharma.


Course description

That there is a self has been taught,
And the doctrine of no-self,
By the buddhas, as well as
the Doctrine of neither self nor nonself.

– Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika XVIII.

The emptiness of self is one of the central aspects of the emptiness teachings at the heart of the dharma. The self is understood to be a dependently originated fabrication lacking inherent existence. At the same time in the midst of our daily lives the experience of self may feel unquestionably real. Our whole life is wrapped around this important and at times complex sense of self.

On this course we will be focusing on two meditative practices which will support the deepening of an experiential understanding of how the self is fabricated – and exploring how our life can be a movement between different ways of seeing and conceiving the self.

In practicing the anatta way of looking we will become more familiar with the mind’s intuitive tendency to identify with the objects of experience; we habitually conceive of the bodily sensations, thoughts, mind states, emotions and moments of consciousness as either belonging to ourselves or as parts of our selves. In this meditation practice we learn to compassionately let go of this habitual identification and to see all experience as neither self nor belonging to self.

In addition to the anatta practice we’ll explore Chandrakirti’s seven fold analytical reasoning, an intricate practice in which the concept of self is deconstructed through meditative reflection. These two meditative approaches will support the deepening of an experiential understanding of the fabricated and empty nature of the self.


The weekly teaching sessions will include guided meditations, instructions, dharma talks and opportunity for questions and comments. Throughout the course optional small group Q & A’s will be offered and there will be a daily silent peer led morning zoom sit at 7 am UK time.


Times shown:  18 October and 25 October will be in British Summer Time, later dates will be in GMT.

7.00-9.00 pm each Monday evening from 18th October until 29th November


Using Zoom

This online course will use the Zoom platform. For support with learning how to use Zoom, please click here to read the guidance we’ve put together on our website. Please read the first section, ‘Using Zoom’, before registering.


If you have any questions regarding the course, you can send an email to We will respond as quickly as possible, but we have a reduced team during this time so we apologise if you have to wait longer than usual.


None of your registration fee goes to the teacher. Gaia House teachers rely on the generosity of students for their livelihood. There will be an opportunity to make a dana offering to your teacher at the end of the event.

Click here to read more about the practice of dana.

Dana can be given to Juha via PayPal here.

Dana can also be offered to Juha via the Gaia House website by clicking here. Please click on Teacher and then specify that your donation is for ‘Juha – Exploring Anatta’ in the notes section on the checkout page.

Dana can also be offered to Gaia House’s residential service team via our website here:  This team is responding to email and telephone enquiries for both our online and residential retreats, alongside supporting our retreatants during their stay at Gaia House.


With deep appreciation for your generosity.


Well-being guidelines - please click here to read before booking

Before you book, please read these guidelines about mental well-being and silent retreats:

Meditation retreats can be very nourishing; however, as they require sustained meditation practice, they also need some stability of psychological health. If you have recently (within the past year or so) experienced significant trauma or psychiatric illness, or if you are currently experiencing acute emotional distress such as serious depression or anxiety, it may not be the best time for you to participate in a retreat. The teachers might not be able to give you the kind of individual psychological care you need at this time. A setting with more opportunities for interpersonal engagement may be more appropriate.

  • If you are currently under the care of a mental health professional, please discuss your attendance with them. You should be in a relatively stable period of mental well-being and have adequate psychological resilience.
  • If you have any questions about this, please contact Susanne using the email address,

Registrations for this course have now closed.