Tag: ann arbor mi

Buddhism: A Non-Traditional Tradition

From Barbara Brodsky

Barbara: Looking back, I feel Deep Spring Center began in a fortunate way, unfettered by bonds to any specific tradition. My own spiritual path for much of my life was as a Quaker and through Quakerism I found my introduction to meditation. Through three decades my meditation practice evolved into practices akin to vipassana and dzogchen but free of labels, forms and cultural attachments. When I finally directly met Buddhism itself, my meditation was already well established. Thus, I was able to try on the forms and experience them deeply without any sense of attachment or obligation to a specific tradition.

When I began to teach I did so totally without outer form or ritual. Most of those individuals drawn to join me were not Buddhists. They were followers of all religions and of none, people who aspired to live with more love and skill, people who realized that an experiential understanding of mind/body process and a deeper opening into the heart of being were paths to freedom. Within a few years, Deep Spring Center was established as a non-profit, non-denominational center for the teaching and practice of nonduality. Thus, the Center found itself in a different situation than dharma centers which reflect a specific tradition and incorporate the forms of that tradition into the practices. The foundation practice was simply a balance of insight meditation and various purification and heart-centered practices.

If this dharma door was to be accessible to people, it was important not to lodge the teachings in any one system of thought but to use whatever language gave people clearest access. If through vipassana practice I experience emptiness or impermanence, these are not “Buddhist” experiences. Resting in pure heart/mind is not an opening to “Buddhist” awareness. Of course these are universal truths or they would not be truths. Buddhism provides a vehicle to point us to the experience and a terminology with which to discuss those truths.

What phrasing will make these teachings/practices available to a non-Buddhist student? What will obscure it? I was moved on a ten day retreat by the experience of a deeply Catholic woman, weighed down by an inner sense of unworthiness, bent posture reflecting that weight. We worked with vipassana and also with tonglen, or “giving/taking” practice. I had suggested that as she worked with tonglen, drawing in suffering, she release it to Jesus. After some days she knocked on my door late one night, positively radiant, standing tall instead of stooped, and announced to me that the unworthiness was gone. “Jesus took it,” she reported.

I came to see that, like myself, many students had been alienated by the outer trappings of the religions in which they were raised. Of course, at best the forms are expression of the essence but often that was not what we experienced. We had looked for depth from spirituality and found what at first glance seemed to be only empty ritual and words. With such confused childhood models, we grew to refuse those forms as we sought essence.

Yet, as the guiding teacher, I had to ask what we had lost by not participating in these traditions? What part of that which has been lost is frill and what’s essential and how do we replace the essential without immersing ourselves in specific religious or cultural tradition? The answers are only slowly emerging. Our present approach is not an answer with a capital “A.” It is a path, ever evolving because each person who walks through the door is unique and will have their own best way of entering it. I find this whole path is part of our creation of a unique Western Buddhism. This is not a process. With “process,” there is already a plan and a self to activate the plan. This path is just being, present without any knowing, present in each moment with whatever we find there.

Evenings with Aaron – March 15, 2017

An open session with Aaron channeled by Barbara Brodsky

Please consider a donation (suggested donation $5-$10) to support this ongoing 2-year program, The Dharma Path.


(Barbara begins by reading the following text, which was dictated to her by Aaron earlier. The recording began after several paragraphs.)

Aaron:  All aware of what we call physical and emotional distortions. We try to “fix” them.

Let’s begin with, “What is a distortion?” To know “distortion”, we must ask, distorted from what?

It’s hard for most humans to visualize the “ever-perfect”. What is perfect weather for you? Warm sun, fresh snow, breeze for your sailboat, stillness. Read more

Sunday Morning Group Sitting

Insight | Vipassana

All levels of meditators are welcome! No registration necessary. Offered as dana; donations to Deep Spring Center are appreciated.

Sitting meditation for one hour from 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Followed by a half-hour of mindful sharing.

For more information, please contact Deep Spring Center at 734.477.5848 or [email protected].

Sundays, 10:00 am – 11:30 am – Weekly

Information Drop-Ins

Tuesday Morning Group Meditation

Insight | Vipassana Meditation

All levels of meditators are welcome! No registration necessary. Offered as dana; donations to Deep Spring Center are appreciated.

Sitting meditation to start the day! Please enter and depart in silence. (Instruction is not provided.)

For more information contact Deep Spring Center – 734.477.5848 or [email protected]

Tuesday, 6:30 am – 7:15 am – Weekly

Information on Drop-Ins

Emrich Summer Retreat

Summer Silent Vipassana Retreat

Be a Lamp Unto Yourself

June 13-15 or June 13-19, 2015

Retreat Description:

The Buddha said “Be a lamp unto yourself.” How do we access that lamp and live from our deepest heart and truth, with wisdom and compassion? The primary focus of the retreat is to deepen vipassana practice and gain insight into how to bring what we learn into practice in the world.  We will also include heart centered practices like Lovingkindness meditation. The retreat will be held in silence except for instruction and discussion periods and daily dharma talks.

We also will focus on the simultaneity of everyday and Ultimate experience.  For example, how do we hold ourselves and others compassionately in our hearts when fear or anger are present, and also rest in that place that is truly empty of fear or anger but with no denial of them on the relative level? What allows us to express our deepest inner being and what blocks it? The Entity we call The Mother may incorporate in an optional session one or several afternoons,. to help those who wish to participate  to come into this heart centered space through sharing energy and a few words.

Registration deadline is May 29, 2015

Date: June 13-15 or June, 13-19, 2015

Where: Emrich Center, Brighton, MI

Teachers: Barbara Brodsky, John Orr and Aaron  
with Lisa Zucker

Level: All levels

Cost: $525 for 7 days (6 nights) and $310 for 3 days (2 nights); includes meals and lodging.

Full payment is due June 5, 2015. Your payment/deposit is refundable minus a $25 cancellation-processing fee until May 15, 2015; after that it is refundable only if someone on the waiting list takes your place. 
If full payment is not received by June 5 your place may be reassigned.

Tenting is an option, cost is the same.  All tenters also have a bed reserved for them.

ONLINE REGISTRATION – 7 days (6 nights)

ONLINE REGISTRATION – 3 days (2 nights)

Registration and Information

Check in opens at noon, the retreat begins mid-afternoon Saturday, June 13 and ends Friday, June 19 after lunch. The 3-day retreat will end after the dharma talk on Monday evening. Experienced meditators, with permission of the teacher, may conduct a self-retreat.

The retreat will be held in noble silence, with instructions for beginning and advanced meditators and will include evening talks, optional group meetings and opportunities for private interviews with teachers. Mindfulness throughout the day will be the intention, with alternating periods of sitting and walking practice.

Special rates for young adults:

Deep Spring Center would like to support young adults (18-30) in the cultivation of their meditation practice. We offer them special rates of $115 for the 3-day retreat and $220 for the weeklong retreat. These discounts are given on a first come first served basis. Please contact the retreat registrar at [email protected] before signing up online.

Scholarships are available; inquire if you need financial assistance.

Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect any praise or reward. If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have alot of peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace and freedom and your struggles with the world will come to an end.  Ajahn Chah


What is a Meditation Retreat?

A meditation retreat is a wonderful opportunity to experience our own inner being while sharing in the support of others. Mindfulness throughout the day will be a focus, with alternating periods of sitting and walking practice. The retreat will be held in silence, free of conversational talking.

A typical day at retreat includes instruction for beginning and advanced meditators, numerous perious of sitting and walking meditation, optional small group meetings or private interviews with the teachers, optional group instruction or discussion with Aaron each afternoon, optional yogo, a rest or personal periods, and an evening dharma talk.

This kind of retreat may not be appropriate for all people. If you have concerns about your emotional stability under the pressures of a deeply introspective meditation experience, please discuss your concerns with a Deep Spring teacher prior to registering.

If finances are a concern, please let us know. Scholarships are available. Registration fees cover room and board. Teachings are offered on a dana basis.

Insight Meditation

Insight Meditation (vipassana) is a simple and direct practice: the moment to moment investigation of the mind/body process through calm, focused awareness which allows us to experience sensations, emotions, thoughts and consciousness with greater clarity and balance. This frees our mind from conditioned patterns of self-centeredness, negativity and confusion, and opens our heart to deeper wisdom and compassion. This process of opening compassionately to ourselves moves from the sitting period to the whole of our lives. Each moment is practice for our growth toward wholeness and harmony.

The meditations derive from Buddhist traditions but no special religious beliefs are necessary to their practice. Along with vipassana, we will work with the practices of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, and with Pure Awareness meditation.

There will be separate instruction periods to meet the needs of students with different levels of meditation experience.

Location and Schedule

The retreat will be held at Emrich Center, southwest of Brighton, Michigan. This 
26-acre retreat facility lies within 5,000 acres
 of rolling, wooded state land. Wildflowers abound in the Emrich meadows; butterflies are around each bend; deer graze on the lawns; the state land holds serene walking trails and beautiful vistas. 
A clean lake offers refreshing swimming just a short walk from the meditation hallTenting is permitted.

Information | Registration