Ordinary Mind is Zen: A weekend with Andre Elsen

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Friday, February 21, 7 pm – 9 pm; Saturday, February 22, 9 am – 5 pm 

(Andre will also give the Sunday morning dharma talk on February 23.)

In Zen we have many forms, many ways to express practice, to train our minds and our selves. Yet what do we do when we get up, eat breakfast, work, speak to our partners or friends or children? At those times, what mind will we express – and is that the same mind that does zazen? What is zazen mind? How do we cultivate this mind on and off the cushion?

What if all our ideas of zen, zazen and any other state of mind are just the thing that keeps us from really being this person? What if truly being this one is zen? Let’s work together and try to explore this as wholeheartedly and honestly as we can.

Suggested donation £15, and if that’s a challenge, please simply offer whatever you can afford. Wear loose comfortable clothing and bring vegetarian food to share on Saturday. 

Please help us manage numbers by registering for a free ticket here


Sesshin Dates for 2020

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Walking meditation in the grounds of Benburb Priory

Tuesday, April 28 – Sunday, May 3, 2020
Tuesday, August 25 – Sunday, August 30, 2020

Ryushin Paul Haller, the guiding teacher of Black Mountain Zen Centre, will lead two five-day sesshin at Benburb Priory this year.

These silent meditation retreats will start on Tuesday evening and end on Sunday afternoon. Participants can either attend for the whole five days or for the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday. The suggested donation to cover our costs is £​310 for the full five days, and ​​£165 for the weekend, Friday to Sunday. This covers your single room and three vegetarian meals per day, plus unlimited tea and coffee during breaks. Please offer what you can afford, and if you can make a larger donation, that is also gratefully received.

If you’ve attended sesshin before, please let us know by email here if you hope to attend and let us know if any of your details have changed. If it’s your first sesshin, please read the application form and follow the details in order to apply: Sesshin application

Saturday Morning Drop-In Study Group

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Saturdays, 11:15 am – 12:30 pm

The book we’re reading on Saturday mornings at 11:15 am is Not Always So, the second collection of Shunryu Suzuki’s provocative and intriguing dharma talks. Our group uses the reading as a jumping-off point for our discussion of how we practise the dharma in our everyday lives. As every chapter is a self-contained talk, it’s possible to drop in at any point. The book is not available on Kindle, but we do have some copies available at the centre, and we encourage you to buy your own copy, if possible. If you plan to read the text in advance, we’ll proceed through the chapters as follows:

  • January 11: Brown Rice is Just Right
  • January 18: The Zen of Going to the Rest Room
  • January 25: Caring for the Soil
  • February 1: Everyday Life is Like a Movie
  • February 8: Resuming Big Mind
  • February 15: Ordinary Mind, Buddha Mind

The weekend of February 21 to 23, Andre Elsen will be offering a retreat, Ordinary Mind is Zen. You are warmly invited to take part – click here for more info.