The Buddha was interested solely in suffering and how to live free of it. Neither theorist, dogmatist, nor religious authority, the Buddha’s gift is the noble path, the middle way, the eightfold path of living without suffering. This Way of Life is guided by wise, skillful understanding and wise, compassionate aspiration. Mindfulness weaves the various elements together. A sturdy ethical foundation and lifestyle based in values of kindness, simplicity, courage, and generosity is its chassis. The heart-mind trainings collectively known as meditation penetrate to the nature of our mind-body experience and such insight opens us to greater freedom and peace.

As these strands of practice are woven together, the Noble Path takes the place of “wrong path” (unskillful living lacking in wisdom). Seen within ariyasacca (four ennobling realities or four noble truths), the noble path takes the place of craving, letting go takes the place of egoism, and compassionate knowing supplants foolish thinking and confused and uncritical knowing.

The Early Buddhist discourses (Pali suttas) convey these teachings in great depth and detail. Collectively, these teachings show us how the path coalesces into a balanced, unified Dhamma-centered life focused on awakening. The study retreat will examine these teachings concerning the Noble Path, reflecting on core texts within a meditative setting.

As the style of the discourses can seem cryptic and daunting to newcomers, with terminology that often needs explication, an experienced navigator like Santikaro can help newcomers understand the key concepts and terms, can provide contextual background for a thought world far removed from ours, can point to linkages between discourses, and can help those who aspire to understand Buddha-Dhamma on its own terms with the basic tools needed to do so. Throughout, we will discuss how to apply these compassionate teachings within our lives. Our aim is to enable Dhamma student-practitioners to unlock the brilliance and power of these original treasures.

In this Study Retreat Santikaro will help Dhamma cultivators access these wise teachings while emphasizing their practical purpose. A selection of discourses and passages from them that illuminate the eight strands of the noble path will be surveyed. Scholarly tools will be used only in service of spiritual needs. Participants will be challenged to read and reflect. When applicable, guided practices and exercises will be given to provide grounding for the suttas we will read and discuss. We will also have time for silent meditation, reflection, and pleasant abiding with Dhamma Friends.

A full reading list will be emailed to registered participants in March 2019, along with advice and aids for sutta study. Revised translations with notes and commentary will be sent as PDFs. During the retreat, suggestions for further study will be shared.


Cloud Mountain continues to take endemic covid-19 seriously as a public health risk in the retreat environment. Masking and rapid testing requirements are in place.


Scholarship funds are available on all retreats to assist those with financial challenges. For more information, read the Scholarship section of our overview information.


Generosity Tier : $500 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff

Base Tier : $460 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff

Subsidized Tier : $420 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff


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