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Of Hermits and Lovers: The Alchemy of Desire

Whatever we want from our path, and whatever is our conception of awakening, we will need to investigate desire and our relationship with it. And if we seek a path that will expand and deepen our sense of the sacred, we cannot regard desire only and always as something to be eradicated.

On this retreat we will begin to explore the range of teachings, perspectives, and practices that can allow us to wisely discern between the various manifestations of desire in our lives, to transform greed, and to open to the beauty of eros and our fire without losing balance and equanimity.

Before applying for this retreat, please make sure you have the requisite retreat experience and that you are familiar with and have a good working knowledge and experience of practices of samatha, metta, emptiness, emotional/energy body, and the imaginal.

Regarding Emptiness teachings, the understandings that will underpin the material on this retreat concern the concepts of ‘ways of looking’ and ‘fabrication’. If you are not already thoroughly familiar with these understandings, then you can read about them in Rob’s book ‘Seeing That Frees’ or listen to two of his talks on Dharmaseed: Approaching the Dharma [Part 1- Unbinding the World] and Approaching the Dharma [Part 2 – Liberating Ways of Looking].

Teachings on working in practice with the emotional/energy body and the imaginal can be found at:

Rather than repeating this material, we need to assume that you are familiar with these concepts and practices, since we will be relying on that as a necessary ground that enables the presentation of the new teachings for this retreat. In order to be accepted for this retreat you will need a firm basis in these teachings.

As some of you know, one of the teachers for this retreat, Rob Burbea, has been handling a serious cancer and chemotherapy over recent months. All being well, Rob and Catherine will offer retreat teaching and guidance but will not be able to offer as much psychological support, or as much in-depth one-on-one guidance, as one might typically be supported by on a silent retreat. As such, we are asking that you only attend this retreat if you are able to be psychologically self-supporting in a silent retreat context.


CATHERINE McGEE has been teaching Insight Meditation at Gaia House and internationally since 1997. Her teaching emphasises embodiment and working with whatever hinders us from living our deepest knowing in the world. She is an advisor to One Earth Sangha and a long term student of the Diamond Approach.

Listen to one of Catherine McGee's Talks given at Gaia House on 09.08.2010: Intimacy and Non Attachment (Duration 51:37)

ROB BURBEA has been practising and studying the Dharma since 1985. He has been teaching since 2004 and is a Guiding Teacher of Freely Given Retreats. He is a co-founder of SanghaSeva, an organisation dedicated to exploring the Dharma through service work internationally, and also a co-initiator of DANCE (Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement). He is the author of Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.

Listen to one of Rob Burbea's Talks at Gaia House on 31.12.2011: This Matter of Emptiness (Duration 50:33)

Retreat Code = 17139

C = special criteria, please read the retreat description carefully
E = experienced

Sunday 26 March 2017 – Sunday 2 April 2017 (7 nights)

Standard Rate:  £385 - Please pay this rate if you can
Supported Rate:  £327 - Available if the Standard Rate is too high for you
Sponsor Rate:     £462 - A benefactor rate, which helps others to come here on the Supported Rate
          For additional help with retreat costs, other options are available
Retreat is Full
This retreat is now full.  You can still apply for a place on the waiting list by submitting an application form