Thus I have heard… Ajahn Brahmali is well regarded as an authority on the Buddhist suttas. Hence, I kick-started this year as a participant of this. Sutta Retreat I (February 15-17) touched on the 1st Noble Truth (The Truth of Suffering). The meditation retreat (February 18-20) had both self-practice, guided meditation as well as the sutta study of the 4th Noble Truth (The Path to the Cessation of Suffering). Sutta Retreat II (February 21-23) touched on the 2nd and 3rd Noble Truths which deal with The Origin of Suffering and The Cessation of Suffering.

Overall, the talks and sutta studies as well as meditation were well structured, and Ajahn Brahmali gave in-depth explanations to terms, concepts, ideas and opinions on the subjects. It was a little heavy going for me as I am not well grounded in Pali terms. I really admire the way Ajahn Brahmali provided alternative words for better understanding and perspective. For example, Right Concentration in the Noble 8-Fold Path is described as Right Immersion (in accordance with Ajahn Sujato) but he expressed it as stillness. He explained why and when one is in deep concentration or meditation, it could be bliss or peace or just stillness.

As some suttas can be rather repetitive, Ajahn Brahmali read the contents slowly and clearly, and gave examples, ideas and opinions (which sometimes were very witty and humourous) to help with understanding.

I found the retreat useful in improving my understanding of the 4 Noble Truths. I also learnt how to recall the Noble 8-Fold Path in the correct order! What I liked most was Ajahn Brahmali brought alive the life and experiences of the Buddha when he asked us to use our imagination to go back in time and feel and walk the path. In this sense, Ajahn Brahmali reminded me of my pilgrimage to the 4 holy places a few years back and imbued in me an aspiration for another trip, hopefully soon!

Buddhist Gem Fellowship