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Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation – with Ven. Joan Nicell
From Thursday, 26. October 2023 -  05:30pm
To Monday, 30. October 2023 - 02:00pm
Buddha in front of Rinpoche house
Shakyamuni Buddha statue outside Lama Zopa Rinpoche's residence at Root Institute, Bodhgaya.
Photo: Indre Marija

This short introductory course intended for beginners will provide you with a basic overview of Buddhism as summed up in this well-known verse:

Do not commit any harmful actions.
Do only perfect virtuous actions.
Control your own mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddha

To control our own mind (our thoughts, feelings, and emotions), we first need to understand what the mind is and how it works, whereby we will come to see that when it is uncontrolled it is the creator of our suffering, whereas when it is controlled it is the creator of our happiness. 

You will learn about the nature of mind, or consciousness -- how it is non-physical and eternal, goes from life to another, and experiences pain and pleasure in dependence on what kind of choices we ourselves make. We will look at how and why unhelpful thoughts and emotions, such as anger and desirous attachment, arise, and what we can do to gain control over and reduce them. We will also look at how to cultivate and strengthen the positive emotions and attitudes, such as love, compassion, kindness, and patience, that enable us to live a meaningful and satisfying life.

In this course, you will also be introduced to meditation as a tool for working with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. You will get a chance to practice both focusing, or concentrative, meditation as well as analytical meditation, a powerful way to use our human ability to think and analyze to bring about profound and positive changes in ourselves and in our lives. 


After completing several ten-day vipassana retreats in Thailand, Ven. Joan did her first course in Tibetan Buddhism at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in November 1987. She received ordination as a nun from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in early 1989. She then spent more than twenty years living and working at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, a large Buddhist center, in Italy before returning to Kopan Monastery in 2013, which is where she is now based and where she regularly teaches courses. She very much enjoys meeting new people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds and having the opportunity to share the Buddha's teachings with them.


Thurs Oct 26  
5:30 pm Welcome to the course by the Spiritual Programme Coordinator
6:00 pm Dinner/Supper
7:00 pm Evening Meditation
Fri Oct 27 – Sun Oct 29  
6:45 am Morning meditation
7:30 am Breakfast 
9:00 am Teachings with with Ven. Joan
10:15 am Break
10:45 am Teachings with Ven. Joan
12:00 noon Lunch
2:00 pm Teachings with Ven. Joan
3:30 pm Break
4:00 pm Discussion and Q&A with Ven. Joan
6:00 pm Supper
7:00 pm Evening meditation 
Mon Oct 30  
6:15 am  Morning meditation with Ven. Joan at Mahabodhi Stupa
7:30 am Breakfast – takeaway picnic
8:30 am Final Teachings with Ven. Joan at Mahabodhi Stupa
10:00 am Break
10:30 am Tour of Root Institute and introduction to the charitible projects – Maitreya School, Shakyamuni Buddha Clinic and the Stupa Garden
12:00 noon Big Lunch
2:00 pm Film screening on Lama Zopa Rinpoche


Note: This schedule is subject to change.

Please note: Participants are expected maintain silence between supper and lunch

If you’re arriving before your check-in day or staying on after your check-out day, please book these in advance to secure them with our reception team: . If you arrive early or have a late departure, you are welcome to keep your luggage by the office


Course / retreat discipline

Students are most welcome to apply for individual or groups retreats here. To make the most of this special time, we would like to suggest the following:

  • It is good to settle all outside communication before you begin your retreat. Telling friends and family that you will be out of contact for the duration will significantly help to reduce distractions. Likewise, settling your travel arrangements, etc. before you come to Root Institute is highly advisable.

  • To maintain a healthy, calm, clear mind, observing silence will also bring you the mental space most conducive to retreat.

  • Practicing Dharma is a source of happiness, so rejoice in your efforts!

  • Thank you for thinking of Root Institute as your place for retreat. We will do our best to support you!

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful:* avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.


Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden and, due to our commitment to follow His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice and support his work, we do not share our materials and facilities with those who knowingly continue to practice Shugden against his advice.

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