2 February - 9th March 2023
Tibet's great mountain mystic - studying the "100,000 Songs" together
Immerse yourself in Tibetan Buddhism and the magical life of Milarepa
The 11th Century was the time of the Norman period in England, and the Song Dynasty in China. The Toltecs were ruling Mexico, Angkor Wat was being built. It was the twilight of the Byzantine empire. But in a mountainous region of Tibet, a young man was undergoing a profound spiritual transformation from a murderer of 35 people to one of the most legendary and highly-regarded practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.
Milarepa (c.1051-1135) was from a well-to-do family who had been cheated of their wealth. And driven by a vengeful mother he learned black magic and caused the death of 35 of his relatives. Inspired by simply hearing the name of his teacher, Marpa, he went through gruelling penances to get to a place where he could receive the highest Buddhist teaching and then spent the rest of his long life teaching from icy mountain retreats - and singing spontaneous songs (doha) of enlightenment.
These "Hundred Thousand Songs" were collected many years after his death and are considered one of the pinnacles of Tibetan religious literature. As well as being astonishing works of poetry, they are also inspirational for practitioners of Buddhism.
I feel they are also a wonderful gateway into the sometimes dizzying world of Vajrayana Buddhism. Having loved these Songs for many years, I thought it would be wonderful to spend six weeks exploring them.
We'll start with an overview of Milarepa's life on the 2nd February and then take one song each week for the subsequent five sessions. We'll meet at 7.30pm UK time on Thursday evenings - for about an hour.
About the teacher
Alistair is a broadcaster, psychotherapist and meditation teacher.
He's worked for the BBC for more than 20 years and works as a UKCP-accredited therapist in East Sussex. Since 2004, he's run Mindsprings, his therapeutic meditation organisation which teaches body-based and Buddhist solutions to many of our everyday problems.
Mindsprings offers popular meditation-based courses on many subjects:
helping people with anxiety, dissociation, stress.
working with mental health in the LGBTQ community.
exploring the growing field of embodiment and somatic practices.
teaching Buddhist practices for mental health and well-being
Alistair teaches in England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands.