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Walking the Buddha’s path to freedom: five-day study and practice retreat 2024

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Event description

Cause and Effect: Exploring self-constructing as process 

Rather than being understood as a fixed identity (self view) our experience can be properly seen as a process. We draw on the Buddha’s teachings to investigate how grasping at self view leads to suffering (dukkha) and how letting go leads to freedom (vimutti).

This five-day dharma study and practice retreat offers a rare opportunity to explore and practice the Buddha’s teachings together.

The retreat will be grounded in noble silence, to support your deepening understanding and integration.

The schedule includes:

  • shared enquiry into core texts and teachings;
  • guided and silent sitting and walking meditation;
  • relational practice, contemplating together in pairs and small groups;
  • optional individual meetings with the teachers

This retreat is best suited to people with an established insight meditation or mindfulness practice.


Willa Thaniya Reid trained in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, which harmonises with her affinity for the natural world and for reflective practice grounded in the Buddha’s suttas. She was a monastic for 18 years, eight years as senior nun of Cittaviveka. She teaches internationally and is based in New Zealand, where she co-founded with Elizabeth a center for Dhamma enquiry in Kihikihi. She has a Masters of Counselling, and clinical pastoral training. 

Dr Elizabeth Day trained as a buddhist monastic within the lineage of the Thai Forest Sangha.  She is committed to presenting the clarity of the core Buddhist teachings, and bringing these alive for minds shaped by contemporary democratic paradigms. Elizabeth co-founded a centre for Dhamma practice in Kihikihi, New Zealand with Willa, and teaches retreats in NZ and the USA. She has a PhD in phenomenology and inter-subjectivity; practices relational Gestalt psychotherapy; and is a senior academic in universities in New Zealand and Australia.

Jill Shepherd began practicing insight meditation in Thailand in 1999, and since that time has lived and worked at several meditation centres and monasteries in the US, Australia, England, and Thailand. She recently spent seven years on staff at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of the IMS / Spirit Rock teacher training program in the US, under the guidance of Joseph Goldstein and Gil Fronsdal.

Retreat practicalities

Ethical Conduct: A core aspect of the Buddha’s teaching is the importance of living by ethical guidelines known as the Five Training Precepts. While on retreat, all participants are expected to undertake these extended guidelines:

1. To refrain from harming any living beings – not to kill or intentionally hurt any person or creature.

2. To refrain from taking what is not freely given – not to steal or 'borrow' without the consent of the giver, and to accept what is offered.

3. To abstain from sexual activity during the retreat.

4. To practice Noble Silence and to refrain from harming by one's speech – not to lie, gossip or use harsh or hurtful language, and not to use mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices during the retreat.

5. To abstain from using alcohol, recreational drugs and other intoxicants that cloud the mind and harm the body. (This does not apply to prescription medicines.)

Accommodation: Rooms are all single rooms

Food: The centre will provide simple vegetarian meals for the retreat. Please indicate on the registration form if you have any food allergies or medical dietary needs. 

Mobile phones: In support of your own and others' meditation practice, please don’t use mobile phones or any other electronic devices during the retreat.

In the event of an emergency, family members or friends can call the St Francis retreat centre on 09 625 6651

Retreat fees: sliding scale $875-$725 + dāna*

Supporter rate $875 - Slightly more than actual-cost ticket: covers cost of food and accommodation, a contribution to the teacher's travel costs, and a contribution to scholarships for low-income attendees

Actual cost $800 - Actual-cost ticket covers cost of food and accommodation, and a small contribution to the teacher's travel costs

Subsidised $725 - Below cost ticket: covers a contribution towards cost of food and accommodation only

The retreat fee covers only the cost of food and accommodation, plus a small contribution to the teachers' travel costs. The teaching is freely offered, and there will be an opportunity to give dāna* to the teachers at the end of the retreat.

To reserve a place on the retreat, you will need to pay a deposit of $100 through Humanitix. The balance of the retreat payment is due one week after registering with Humanitix. Account details for balance payments will be included on your Humanitix confirmation email.

Cancellation policy:
The retreat fee is refundable - minus a $50 administration fee - up to one month before the retreat begins.
If you cancel after that time, the retreat cost will be forfeited and used to help subsidise low-income tickets.
Please note the venue cancellation policy: 
"Non-arrival of booked participants, who are unable to attend or fail to attend for whatever reason will still be required to pay the full amount of the booking."

*Dāna: In most Buddhist traditions the teachers are not paid to teach. Instead, the teachings are given on a dāna basis – dāna being the Pali word for generosity or giving freely – so there will be an opportunity to offer a donation for the teaching at the end of the event.

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Refund policy

Refunds are available up to 30 days prior to the event