Author: buddhistinsights

Retreat Guidelines

HOW TO GET HERE Empty Cloud is located at 29 Ridgeway Avenue in West Orange. Please use the entrance on the far left side corner of the building, by the big sitting monk statue. To learn how to get to the center via public transit from NYC, please click here. WHAT TO BRING Please pack very lightly. Ideally, all your belongings should fit in a small bag or a carry-on suitcase. Sleeping bag or twin sheets and pillow case. Towel and toiletries you expect to use (toothbrush, toothpaste, conditioner, etc.). Water bottle. If you’re a light sleeper, we suggest bringing earplugs. If you would like to bring a food donation, please check Dana list first. Laundry will only be available once a week for retreats longer than 7 days. Please pack accordingly. ARRIVAL AND ACCOMMODATION Upon arrival, you will be asked to relinquish your phone. All communication devices (phones, laptops) need to be shut off during the entire retreat. Please give the email to friends and family for emergency purposes. If you need an …

Ven. Robina Courtin

Robina Courtin is a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa tradition and lineage of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Ordained since the late 1970s, Ven. Robina has worked full time since then for FPMT. Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, executive director of Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.

David Listen

David Listen has been teaching Chan (Zen) meditation for over 10 years, leading numerous intensive meditation retreats, classes, and activities at various meditation centers, as well as teaching at many college campuses and private institutions throughout the U.S., Europe, and East Asia. Previously known as Venerable Chang Wen, he was one of the few western monastic disciples of Chan Master Sheng Yen. He had been a monk for over a decade, and has since returned to lay life to share Buddhism in his own creative way. David holds a BS in Environmental Studies, and is currently getting his MSEd in Mental Health Counseling. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and is working on translating Chan texts to English. He nowadays does life mentoring/coaching, continuing to guide people in their Chan Buddhist life practice on an individual and group basis.

Rev. Monshin Naamon

Reverend Monshin Naamon has been practicing Buddhism since 1970. He began formal training in Tendai Buddhism in Japan in 1989, under the guidance of Reverend Shoshin Ichishima, and was ordained in 1992. While in Japan he also translated several key Tendai texts into English. In the fall of 1994, he returned to the United States and established Karuna Tendai Dharma Center, a monastery in upstate New York. He offers ordination and training for Tendai priests, as well as regular meditation programs, retreats, and Sutra study classes for both lay and ordained practitioners.

Ven. Pannavati

Ven. Dr. Pannavati, a former Christian pastor, is an African-American nun ordained in both Theravada and Chan Buddhism. A disciple of Great Master Kuang Seng, Rinpoche Zhaxi Zhouma, and Roshi Bernie Glassman, she has been a long-term advocate of women’s rights, humanitarian aid, and social equality. Her teachings emphasize the importance of both contemplative practice and compassionate action. She conducts retreats nationally at over 50 centers each year.

Empty Cloud

Welcome to Empty Cloud, our new monastery and retreat center in West Orange, NJ. After three full years of offering free meditation retreats at the Rockaway Summer House in New York City, thanks to your kind donations we have moved to this wonderful location where we can keep doing what we know how to do best – practice the Dharma – and offer it to even more living beings! As usual, all retreats are offered on a donation basis: the suggested donation is to practice generosity! Everyone is welcome, but registration is mandatory ahead of time. There’s no shortage of events to participate in, so check out our upcoming calendar at, or send us an email at RSVP@BUDDHISTINSIGHTS.COM We are not supported by grants, but we run entirely on individual donations. To help us offer the Dharma freely, please donate on

Many Teachings, One Essence

By BHANTE SUDDHĀSO  * Art AARON GLASSON * When one first encounters Buddhism, it is not uncommon to be confused and overwhelmed by the bewildering array of seemingly dramatically different forms of Buddhism. This is unsurprising. On first glance, it seems impossible to find common ground between the austere aesthetic of Japanese Buddhism and the byzantine visage of Tibetan Buddhism, or to reconcile the multi-stage meditation training of Theravāda with the single-step directness of Soto Zen. However, as one digs beneath the surface one begins to discern the common threads that tie them all together: the heart-essence of the Buddha’s teachings found in the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The question then becomes: How can we see all contemplative Buddhist traditions as only superficially different manifestations of the same core essence? And perhaps more relevantly, how can we form a clear picture in our minds of a complete and valid path to liberation? The truth is that there is no easy answer to such questions. It is only through contact with experienced members of …

Ajahn Brahm

Ajahn Brahm is the popular Buddhist teacher to a growing international audience of people keen to learn meditation and develop a deeper spiritual understanding. He is also the founding father of an emergent Australian forest tradition of Buddhist monasticism focused on being true to the original roots of the Buddha’s Teaching of Dhamma and Vinaya.

Rev. Myo Denis Lahey

Rev. Myo Denis Lahey is the Abbot at Issan-ji (Hartford Street Zen Center) as well as Practice Leader at Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, California, and has previously served as head of practice (Tanto) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. A Dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson, he serves as Treasurer for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of North America (SZBA) and is a member of the Association for Soto Zen Buddhism of Japan (ASZB). Raised in an observant Roman Catholic home, Myo was drawn to religion and spirituality at an early age and found Zen Buddhism in his teens. He began sitting in 1969 and practiced with many San Francisco Zen Center practitioners and teachers, including Dainin Katigiri-roshi, Kobun Chino-sensei, Yoshimura-sensei, and Issan Dorsey. Myo studied Sanskrit at UC Berkeley for ten years.