I’ve been working on setting up an Independent Study through Naropa for the past couple of months. I haven’t mentioned it on the blog yet, because it’s been far to uncertain. Here’s what I’ve wanted to do: Get credit for an intensive vipassana retreat while I’m in school. The only way I could do this is by writing a proposal (which includes research and a final paper), getting a teacher to be on board, and then getting the puppy approved.

It’s in the very early stages now, but it looks like I have a teacher behind me, and the retreat picked out. I’m signed up to attend a 6-week retreat (Sept 23-Nov 4), at IMS. Here’s what my teacher had to say to my initial proposal:

I know about this retreat and that it is no vacation, and I think it is very worthwhile. The main focus and essence will of course be on how it impacts you personally. But as you say, the wider implications need to be brought into a paper. I have a few ideas in terms of research and paper that we could discuss when I see you (such as material by Mahasi Sayadaw himself: I have one called “A Discourse on Dependent Origination”, but there may be more available). Six credits is unusual for independent study, so we might need to beef up the paper a bit [shit]. However, all research will need to be prior to and after the retreat, since you won’t want any of that on your mind during the retreat. In any case, just go ahead and sign up for office hours whenever you can. – Sarah

I can’t tell you how much this opportunity means to me.

UPDATE – 02/01/05: “Welcome back to IMS! This letter confirms your registration for the Three-Month Retreat – Part 1 from 9/23/2005 to 11/4/2005″ I’m officially in the course on the IMS side. Now I just need to handle the school side!

UPDATE – 02/08/05: Had a second meeting with my teacher today, and she is fully supporting my Independent Study proposal. Looks like I’ll be writing a 15 page research paper in order to get full-credit for the retreat. Should be fun…

UPDATE – 06/08/05: Everything is finalized both on the school-side and the meditation center side. I bought my plane ticket yesterday, and am getting ready to roll!

UPDATE – 08/11/05: It’s roughly 6-weeks until the 6-week retreat. I’ve collected most of the notes I need for my paper and have a rough outline. I’ll probably start writing in the next week or so… Also, just remembered that I wrote a little post on GenSit.org about this upcoming retreat, entitled, 42 Days as a Monk… It’s pretty short, but I figured I’d cross reference it here.

UPDATE – 02/04/06: It’s been a few months since the end of the retreat now. I wrote four “Retreat Reflections” aftwards and posted them here:

About Vincent Horn

Vincent Horn is a mind hacker & buddhist geek. He has been practicing Buddhist meditation intensively since his freshman year in college–including a year on intensive silent retreats–and began teaching in 2010 with the support of his own teachers, Kenneth Folk and Daniel Ingram. In addition Vincent co-founded the popular media company Buddhist Geeks in 2006. His work focuses on the fusion of nascent technology and contemplative wisdom, and has been featured on the pages of Wired, Fast Company, Tricycle, and the Los Angeles Times. Along with his wife Emily, he makes his home in Asheville, North Carolina—that is until the distinction between atoms and bits dissolves completely.


  • coolmel says:

    go dawg! go!
    “Tell me did you sail across the sun
    Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
    And that heaven is overrated?”

  • Walker says:

    Ah ha, you have to write 15 pages about “rising falling rising falling”!!!!

  • Vince says:

    Yeah! One portion of the paper will be about my experience at the retreat. “In, Out, In, Out” Not sure what I’m going to write about!!!

    The other part of the paper will probably be an overview of the influences that have most shaped the way Insight Meditation is taught by IMS and Spirit Rock teachers. Mahasi Sayadaw, Ajahn Chaa, Dipa Ma, and perhaps some Dzogchen teachers…

  • [...] The practice has changed since the long retreat. How? The three characteristics are directly understood, not ideas which I believe in, but are related to my understanding concerning the nature of phenomenal reality. Nothing can satisfy ultimately, because it’s always changing, and because there’s no one driving this bus. [...]

  • [...] Well, using myself as an example, I make it by on less then $15,000 a year. I have access to high speed internet, have a reliable laptop, am usually able to afford all organic foods, have an operating vehicle, a decent apartment, and have up to this point been able to keep myself clothed (well, nearly). I have the great fortune of having all of that on well under the average GDP here, and still manage to go on retreat for nearly a month out of the year. In comparison to my peers, I probably spend a good deal less on “stuff.” I don’t go out and buy the newest coolest gadgets (even though I often want to), don’t eat out at luxurious restaurants often (damn, when was the last time?), or do much traveling outside of my meditation trips. But still, I have many more things and a larger degree of access to technologies then your average pre-modern monk. How many of these monks do you know that are blogging, or that are making their teachings available online? There are some for sure, but all in all, the pre-modern monk is teaching much as before. And for us in the modern (and post-modern) world we have to either make sense of that teaching for ourselves, or seek out others who already have and are presenting it in a more modern context. [...]

  • dav0 says:

    I seek nothing. Actually, this is somewhat of a confusing purpose, but let me say it another way: it is “nothing” that I am seeking. The problem is that it is actually quite difficult to find nothing. The internet seems to contain plenty of links to web sites which might contain nothing, but most of them ultimately seem to contain something. I stumbled upon this web site in my search for nothing and so far it seems to come pretty close. I am interested in a lot more of nothing however. Is this even possible?

    Thanks for nothing. :-)


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