Towards Insight: Three Myths

In September 2020 Maitreyabandhu and Jnanavaca led a retreat exploring Samadhi and Prajna in the context of the three myths of self-development, self-discovery, and self-surrender. Having worked together on a book, Jnanavaca and Maitreyabandhu explore on this retreat what it means to gain insight within our tradition. The retreat assumes a basic understanding of the Three Myths as expressed by Subhuti in his article in Madhyamavani.

Here you’ll find video recordings of all the content from this retreat so that you can follow along at your own pace. Helpful links are provided here to easily navigate the various elements of the retreat.

Session 1 was not recorded as it was an unlead meditation session. A few of the meditations are missing from the earliest sessions. If there are any errors, please email

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Day 1


We begin the retreat with a talk from Jnanavaca, who gives an overview of the Three Myths, and sets the scene for what will follow over the week.

Day 2

Samadhi and hindrances

Maitreyabandhu introduces the topic, followed by a Q&A touching on rebirth and arahants. Followed by a meditation (not included). Unfortunately this video is mostly in gallery view.

Metta and Samadhi

Jnanavaca discusses metta as the foundation of samadhi, taking us back to basics and reminding us to dwell with patience and acceptance in the body.

Self-transcendence, PART 1

Maitreyabandhu explores the front and back of the myth of self-development or self-transcendence, looking at the will and the dangers of samadhi and prajna always being beyond us.

Day 3

MIND, Brain, and samadhi

Jnanavaca talks about beauty, nihilism, and leads us into a body based awareness meditation. This is followed by a Q&A which touches on our temperamental inclinations towards samadhi, the differences between mind and brain, and how to tackle the tension that arises when we try to keep track of all the change that is present in our experience.

like dew on a bladE OF GRASS

Maitreyabandhu looks at reflections around impermanence or inconstancy, reminding us that our lives are like dew on a blade of grass.


Jnanavaca concludes the days on the myth of self-development or self-transcendence with this talk, looking at other ‘back’ sides to the myth, and sharing his concerns for how those may manifest in the movement.

Day 4


Maitreyabandhu enters on to the topic of self-surrender & the laksana of dukkha presided over by Tara, followed by a meditation, Q&A (touching on the relationship between dukkha & grasping, the dukkha laksana for those with a nihilistic tendency & subtle joy), followed by another meditation.


Jnanavaca in this session covers softening around dukkha, recognising that both grasping and aversion cause dukkha, and then gently leads into a meditation, finishing with a period of just sitting.


Maitreyabandhu gives an inspiring talk about the unconditioned reaching into the conditioned, symboliesed by Tara (the quick one) on the shrine. He also looks at how views create the context in which we live out our lives, the front and back of the myth of self-surrender, and the secular and the divine, of which Buddhism is neither. The talk is followed by a seven-fold puja.

Day 5


Maitreyabandhu moves on to the anatta reflection in the context of the myth of self-surrender, beginning with a talk.


Jnanavaca shares how he uses Subhuti’s idea of Reaction Practice to give him something to work with in meditation to deepen insight.


Continuing to investigate the ‘front’ and ‘back’ of the myth of surrender, Jnanavaca talks of the myth of his own ordination, of faith and meaning. He talks of the myth of the vajraguru, of making your life an offering, and the fear of betrayal or losing oneself.

Day 6


We move on to Self-discovery presided over by Manjugosha. Jnanavaca introduces and leads us through a Just Sitting meditation. The Q&A explores how to sit with Dukkha and the role of the teacher in the myth of self-surrender.


Maitreyabandhu shares his thoughts on the sense of ‘relief’ or ‘release’ that we can experience when reflecting on the laksanas. Followed by an open meditation.


In this confessional talk, Maitreyabandhu reflects on his meditation history in the light of the myth of self discovery. He looks at the ‘front’ of this myth; its direct and experiential approach that tells us that liberation is possible for us right now, and at the ‘back’, that it can undermine the path (and therefore dispense with the need for sangha and changing the world), lead to claims of attainments, and result in demands of others to suspend their critical faculties in relation to ones experience.

Day 7


Jnanavaca introduces the Vajrasattva Sadhana from a personal perspective followed by a lead meditation (please note the led sadhana has been removed as it is an order-only practice). During the Q&A we touch on approaching the myths with a pure heart, reflection & thinking, & how sadhana relates to the three myths. The session finishes with a short period of Just Sitting. Unfortunately parts of this video are in gallery view.


Maitreyabandhu talks about bringing what we’ve learnt to everyday life.


Jnanavaca begins this talk on the fourth myth, emergence, by sharing some of his own meditative experiences and gratitude for the people he has been able to talk to about them. Continuing to emphasise the experiential benefit of this myth, he then nevertheless expresses reservations; the dangers of calibrating our experience and therefore fixing it, of non-effort undermining the path and of reifying experience. He then also reflects on how humanism influences our Sangha, and ends by expressing his belief that Order Members have a duty and an obligation to look at how their experiences fit within Bhante’s system of practice.

Day 8


The concluding summary talk, given from the Urgyen House, where Bhante Sangharakshita spent his final years.

English (UK)