Cultivating the Boundless Heart – the Brahma Viharas as a way of looking

Love tells me I am everything, wisdom tells me I am nothing. Between these two my life moves. Sri Nisargadatta

Dates: Wednesdays 25 September, 2, 9, 16, 30 October, 6, 13, 20 November

Time: 7 – 9.15pm
And a day of practice on Saturday 16 November, 10am – 5pm

Where: Friends Meeting House, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LW (the venue is accessible)

How might we understand and develop love and wisdom through our meditation practice and in our daily lives? What would it be like to see ourselves as both ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’? Do these ways of looking contradict each other, or might they point to a profound truth that we have the potential to realise?

This eight-week course, led by Brigid Avison and Kathryn Tulip, is an opportunity to explore ways in which we can cultivate two precious human capacities: the capacity for kindness, joy, compassion and equanimity (the brahma viharas); and the capacity to go beyond our habitual ways of looking and interacting with ourselves and `the world’. It will draw on meditative practices from the Buddhist tradition, and on our own insights into the challenges and possibilities of living our lives compassionately and wisely.

The Buddha taught that `With our thoughts we make the world’ – the world we inhabit is not something separate from us that we are just `travelling through’. Wisdom and kindness make sense at many levels, from the personal to the global. Whatever we can do to nurture these capacities is a gift both to ourselves and to every part of the web of life.

The sessions will combine meditation, teachings, reflection and discussion. It will be a `participatory’ exploration, drawing on the life experience of each of us. We will not be teaching basic meditation, so the course is for people who have some experience of sitting meditation, and are willing to make space in their lives to develop their practice and understanding between the sessions.

The fee for the course will be £65 (to cover costs). The teachings are offered for free and we will invite offerings of dana. We don’t want to turn people away, so if the cost of the course is prohibitive please get in touch.

If you would like to participate in the course and you can make all of the dates then please complete the short questionnaire at

If you have any questions about the course then please contact

This course is supported by Oxford Insight Meditation.

Brigid Avison – My experience of the joys, challenges and potential of Insight Meditation, including metta practice, began in the early 1990s. In 2008 I trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and taught courses in Oxford and Charlbury for several years. I have been a long-term member of the Oxford Insight Meditation co-ordinating team, and have attended many retreats at Gaia House. In recent years my practice and understanding have been greatly enriched and broadened by the teachings of Rob Burbea. In 2018 I graduated from the Community Dharma Leaders programme run by Gaia House, under the mentorship of Chris Cullen.

Kathryn Tulip I have been meditating in the Insight tradition for more than 10 years. I am a trainer and group facilitator and regularly teach meditation and dharma related courses, including the Engaged Buddhist Training, at the Ecodharma Centre in Catalunia. I am a member of the Oxford Insight Meditation co-ordination group and lead sessions for Oxford Insight Meditation’s weekly drop-in group and the Sunday Sangha. I am inspired by the teachings of Rob Burbea and Catherine McGee and have been to many retreats at Gaia House. I am currently a trainee in the Gaia House Community Dharma Leader’s programme.

This item was posted on 05/07/2019.

Lightness, Compassion… Action!

Mark Ovland’s retreat day Saturday 6th July 2019

This day retreat is for meditators, activists, and anyone drawn to a synthesis of inner and outer practice. We’ll explore together what the Buddhist teachings and precepts mean for us in the context of climate and ecological breakdown, and consider the morality of peacefully breaking the law in order to affect change. As well as meditation, there will be small group discussion, and reflections on the theme of Dharma-infused activism, as well as exercises from Extinction Rebellion’s nonviolent direct action training. Everyone is welcome!

This item was posted on 25/06/2019.

Venerable Canda offers Sutta discussion evenings

Venerable Canda is now offering regular Sutta discussion evenings which are taking place at an Oxford venue. These will centre on the practical application of the teachings in our lives.

Anyone interested will just need to contact to confirm and to get the address beforehand. 

This item was posted on 26/03/2019.

Dharma and Civil Disobedience: Extinction Rebellion, A Response to Climate Change

Dharma and Civil Disobedience

This November Gaia House teachers Yanai Postelnik, Catherine McGee, Rob Burbea, and Kirsten Kratz, along with many Dharma practitioners from the wider Gaia House community, participated in a series of planned actions of non-violent civil disobedience in London, part of an attempt to galvanize the UK government to urgently implement a truly appropriate response to the emergencies of climate change and mass species extinction. Despite dozens of participants being arrested (including Yanai and a number of senior Dharma practitioners), the days were pervaded by a beautiful and peaceful spirit. While their decision to be involved and to risk arrest, and to continue to do so, does not represent an official Gaia House stance – they choose as individuals to act in this way – each feels called by their own sense of the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings for our times, by their own conscience and sense of ethical duty.

We are all asked to wake up to the severity of the situation and to see through the dangerous delusion that ‘business as usual’ is still an option. Responding to this wake-up call is the task of our times. But it can be truly heart-breaking, for so much has already been lost, so much is at stake. Rooting ourselves deeply in the heart’s capacity of care, compassion, and joy can be a powerful antidote to despair, grief, and overwhelm. So too can joining forces with others; we can’t do this on our own. And no matter what the outcome, can we view this as an invitation to step up, trust and bring forth the very best in ourselves?”  ~ Kirsten Kratz

“The abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the U.S Civil Rights Movement – there are issues which in their time can be portrayed as if they are debatable or just political or economic questions. A little while later it is clear to all that they are moral issues, on which human beings have a moral duty to act and take a stand. Carrying fundamental moral obligations, they make a claim on us more primary than any other. Climate change and mass species extinction are such issues. And since, for me, the Dharma is above all else about values – including and especially moral values – this is simply part of the commitment of my Dharma practice.”   ~ Rob Burbea

“My heart is breaking and my conscience is calling to me, saying, ‘Stand up and take a risk. What else makes sense now?’ We are risking tipping into catastrophic climate breakdown if current policy trends continue, with terrible effects already being experienced by many, mostly worse off and less privileged than myself. And so I act this way because I can, and because the usual lobbying pathways are not working. And I act this way because a force in my body demands that I must do my part. As a member of society I feel I have a responsibility to put pressure on my government to fulfil their side of the social contract and act swiftly in the light of the IPCC report.”  ~ Catherine McGee

“We face an undeclared emergency and I feel compelled by my conscience to stand up for our sacred, fragile planetary ecology, on behalf of our children and all living things who have no voice. I am called to risk my comfort, my privilege, and even my liberty, in responding to the ecological and spiritual devastation that confronts us, if we do not act together and act now, with courageous hearts.”   ~ Yanai Postelnik

To read more about the background of this action you can visit this page on the DANCE website.

This item was posted on 01/01/2019.

Sunday Sangha Social Meet-ups for 2019

Sunday Sangha Meetings for 2019 – 11am to 2pm

Sunday 13th January  -St Margaret’s Institute 30 Polstead Rd, Oxford OX2 6TN
Sunday 10th February – Florence Park Community Centre, Cornwallis Road, Oxford OX4 3NH
Sunday 10th March – Florence Park Community Centre
Sunday 14th April – Florence Park Community Centre
Sunday 19th May – St Margaret’s Institute
Sunday 16th June – St Margaret’s Institute
Sunday 14th July – St Margaret’s Institute
Sunday 8th September – Florence Park Community Centre
Sunday 6th October – Florence Park Community Centre
Sunday 3rd November – Florence Park Community Centre
Sunday 8th December – Florence Park Community Centre

It would be helpful if you could arrive between 11am and 11.15am. If you arrive before that, you can wait in the lobby or outside.

Entrance fee: £5 (£3 concessions)

Sangha is the Pali word for community. These meetings will be an opportunity to practise together, to discuss the teachings of the Buddha, to share food and to get to know each other. Please bring vegetarian food to share. Family members, including children, are welcome to join us, either for the whole session or for the lunch only. The sessions will be suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators.

The meetings will consist of a practice session usually comprising meditation, a recorded talk and a discussion. Lunch will start at 1pm.

The practice session will begin at 11.15. If you arrive after the meditation has started, we ask you to sit on one of the chairs at the back of the room, to avoid disturbing the meditation. You can come forward when it’s finished.

At 12.50, partners and children can come into the hall and join us for lunch.

Most of these meetings will be peer-led and will make use of recorded talks given by experienced Dharma teachers.


In 2019 we will be using the following venues: Florence Park Community Centre and St Margaret’s Institute.

Updated December 2018


This item was posted on 20/12/2018.

Four Week Course: Buddhist Teachings on Self and Not-Self

Buddhist teachings on Self and Not-Self

4 Week Course with Jaya Rudgard

Wednesday evenings 20th March, 27th March, 3rd April, 10th April 2019

7-9pm, Long Room, Friends Meeting House, St Giles

A 4 week study course on early Buddhist teachings around self and not-self (“anatta”) and their practical application in our lives. Participants should have an existing insight meditation or mindfulness practice and are asked to commit to all four classes. There is a £15 registration fee to cover room hire. The class is offered on a dana basis.

Now Fully Booked. Email Jaya to be put on the waiting list.

To apply please email

This item was posted on 20/12/2018.

Venerable Canda is looking for practical support

Venerable Canda, who will be leading a day for us in May 2019, has recently moved to Oxford and set up a Bhikkhuni residence here.

She is in need of all sorts of practical support and would welcome any help from people in the local community. If you think you would like to help in some way see below for more information.

For more information about the Anukampa Bikkhuni project please see

Or contact

This item was posted on 22/11/2018.