27 March 2023

Why Buddhism? And the Easter meditation retreat

Having grown up in a Christian family that went to church most Sundays, I loved it. Many years later, when it comes to the census, I describe myself as a Buddhist. Why the switch? 

In this post, an explanation of the transition, along with details of Mind in Comfort and Ease, the Easter urban (as in non-residential) meditation retreat I will be presenting in person and online that will include a fairly comprehensive overview/summary of Buddhist philosophy, how that knowledge aids entering into the deeper experiences of meditation, and how the study and practice of meditation can inform a more joyful, satisfying and meaningful world view, but first 

           Thought for the Day

   A human being is part of a whole, 

   Called by us the ‘Universe,’ 

   A part limited in time and space. 

   He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, 

   As something separated from the rest

   —a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. 

   This delusion is a kind of prison for us, 

   Restricting us to our personal desires 

   And to affection for a few persons nearest us. 

   Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison 

   By widening our circles of compassion to embrace 

   All living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

                                            Albert Einstein 

Maybe it comes down to this. I have always been interested in the truth. Actually, the Truth – as in not just what is true when it comes to life, science and relationships, but what is true on the grand scale. Who are we? Where did we come from? and Where are we going? 

Or more simply – who am I really? I know what is most obvious about myself is changing all the time – body, emotions, thoughts – changing all the time. So amidst all that change, is there something more enduring? Something more permanent? 

Who am I really?

This is the spiritual quest. 

To look inside and search for our own direct experience of who we really are - the Truth of who we really are, and what we are a part of…

Now, I have always been attracted to Faith – that commitment arising from going so far with reason and analysis, and then making a jump; a leap of faith. 

And in earlier days this faith in God, in a world view based on my Christian values and ethics served me well.

But then came 3 major traumas one upon another within a 2 week span. None of it made any sense. However, despite the trauma, instead of turning me away from spirituality and Christianity in particular, the trauma led to an important insight and a deeper commitment. 

The insight? It was clear my understanding of life, and indeed my faith, did not stand up to life itself. Life at this point in my history made no sense. 

The commitment? The traumas led to a wider exploration; and began a quest for a more encompassing Truth.

After diving into some philosophy and most of the world’s great religions, I settled on Buddhism as being most relevant to my search. 


Buddhism is both a mind science, a philosophy and a world religion. 

One can approach it on any level, whereas I find all three appealing. 

However, most Tibetans do not describe themselves as Buddhists; they prefer the term nangpa: someone who seeks the truth not outside, but within the nature of their own mind. 

All the teachings and training in Buddhism are aimed at that one single point: to look into the true nature of our minds, and so free us from the fear of death and help us to realize the truth of our life.

I settled upon Tibetan Buddhism and stumbled onto the Dzogchen path; which turns out to feature the highest teachings in the Tibetan tradition, and includes all the others as well. 

The appeal is in the heart-recognition of the truth of these teachings. They make sense at every level – intellectually, emotionally and in that more abstract intuitive way. They feel right and stand up to analysis. Importantly, these teachings encourage open enquiry – personal investigation and analysis and there are no articles of faith.

Indeed, The Buddha said this

Just as a goldsmith would test his gold … 

So you must examine my words and accept them, 

But not merely out of reverence for me.  (from the Ghanavyuha sutra). 

So in telling the story of the Buddha’s life one can range over all his teachings and make a coherent whole of them. 

The Buddha began his life as a worldy Prince, rejected that life, followed a path of extreme renunciation for around 7 years, made progress but did not find what he was really looking for, then sat in meditation under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya and achieved full enlightenment. 

At first the Buddha remained silent; he said nothing. 

But those few around him at the time implored him to share his experience and to teach. 

Finally, he relented, spoke, and said this: 

Profound peace, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity

I have found a nectar-like Dharma. 

Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand,

So I shall remain silent here in the forest. (Lalitavistara Sutra)

But after more requests he went on to teach in 3 main cycles, beginning with the Four Noble truths. 

His teachings spanned the remaining 60 years of his life and have been accurately recorded and preserved over the 2,500 plus years since. 

Needless to say there is a lot of material for those who like to study in depth! 

However, there are also more summarized and specialized teachings available that probably are more suited to most of us…

So for me, I never turned my back on my Christian roots; I still find it deeply meaningful and enjoyable to go to Church when the occasion arises. However, it is the Buddhist teachings I have focused upon to study and practice since 1985. That was when I first met Sogyal Rinpoche (author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) and through him, his lineage, teachings and practices, found what I was looking for.

The feeling is one of great good fortune…

Now, during the Easter urban meditation retreat I will present from the 7th to 10th of April 2023 for Rigpa – the Tibetan Buddhist group I am involved with – we will not only dive into the theory around, and the practice of meditation, I will present a summary of key Buddhist teachings that examine the truth of who we are and the nature of the world we live in. And "urban" means this retreat is non-residential, while you can attend in person or online.

The main point is that these teachings support the deeper experiences in meditation and together, the theory and the practice can lead us to a world view that is both more truthful, and makes for a more enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful life.

So if like me you are interested in the truth, do consider making time this Easter; give yourself a treat and join me in person or online for what will be a joyful, relaxing and quite possibly life changing retreat…

Groups will gather in several Rigpa centres. 

I will be in Melbourne, but other Rigpa teachers will support groups who gather to watch the teachings and meditate together in Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Brisbane. Or you can join us online...

From 10.30am Friday 7th April to 4pm Monday 10th April, 2023

Details and bookings can be accessed HERE.




  1. Ian, what do you mean by subscriber? To your emails or the Rigpa Buddhist group?

    1. In this context, subscriber means subscriber to/ membership with Rigpa :)

  2. Hi Ian,
    I would like to attend some parts of this retreat online.
    I was wondering if a daily schedule is available.
    How does “parts” wok in practice. Is it confined to specific sessions?
    Thanks and regards,

    1. Dear Margaret, each of the 4 days of the retreat is fairly stand alone, although they build on each other. So we have made it possible to join for one or more days; whilst obviously it is recommended and preferable to attend all 4 days. If you contact Rigpa, they can forward the schedule, but basically the days focus upon relaxation and preparation, mindfulness, the stillness of meditation and then integration of the practice into daily life. :)

  3. Great summary and blog Ian :) BIG thankyou to you and your team, for keeping these weekly teachings/blogs comping from your EWsdom Mind :)

  4. No one I know has your level and depth of Compassion...clearly to need a team to support you in your good work continuing....

  5. Thank you so much Ian for all your support for so many of us

  6. Just beautiful ✨🙏🏾✨ Namaste Dear Ian ✨🪷✨

  7. Oh that was wonderful
    Ian to read about your Spiritual Journey
    Like you i believe Christianity and Buddism complement each other
    I thank you for preparing this Retreat for Easter Season

  8. We will not be gathering at the Brisbane centre but please enjoy this wonderful retreat online