Seeking Liberation, Seeking Escape: Exploring Spiritual Bypassing, with Mark Finn & Shugen Sensei

Northeast USA  

May 18, 2013
10:00 amto4:00 pm

Zen Center of New York City

When confronting adversity, we have an intelligent, primitive instinct: fight or escape. In modern life, however, this is largely not only ineffective but leads to deep suffering. The Buddha taught the Middle Path of avoiding the extremes of conflict and passivity. Yet, in earnest spiritual practice, this can be supremely challenging.

At very early ages, we develop maps within our bodies and minds to help us escape what’s threatening. We then incorporate these maps into how we navigate work and relationships, recognizing them as a hindrance, but also perceiving them as strengths and virtues. Yet, when we begin to meditate, these very patterns can lead us to hear and practice the teachings in ways that reinforce our attempts at escape. Thus, our practice leads to confinement instead of freedom.

Modern therapists who are also spiritual practitioners speak of this as spiritual bypassing — using practice and our ideas about it to avoid our essential humanity. In this retreat, we’ll study examples of this phenomenon in some of the great Buddhist masters, as well as in our own lives. Through discussion and reflection, we’ll strive to better understand what true practice is and how to navigate the interweaving realms of the psychological and the spiritual.

About the Instructors: Mark Finn, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has been active in the conversation between Buddhism and psychotherapy for many years, publishing and presenting widely in this area. He works in private practice in White Plains and Manhattan. Shugen Sensei received dharma transmission from Daido Roshi in 1997. He is Head of the MRO and abbot of the Zen Center of New York City. Shugen Sensei also manages the National Buddhist Prison Sangha. He has been in full-time residential training since 1986. His teachings have appeared in various Buddhist journals and in The Best Buddhist Writing 2009. His first book, a collection of memorial poems titled O, Beautiful End, was published in 2012.

Cost: $75 (MRO Students: $65)

For more information, or to register:

Seeking Liberation, Seeking Escape, with Mark Finn & Shugen Sensei

Zen Center of New York City

500 State Street

Brooklyn, NY 11217

(718) 875-8229 •