Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center

Fall 2021 Foundations of the Buddha’s Dhamma Retreat

September 30 to October 3

Reservations Coming Soon – Subscribe To Our Newsletter to Be Notified

Retreat Reservations →

Welcome / About Becoming Buddha Retreats ↓

Retreat Schedule and Session Topics ↓

Won Dharma Center Information and Directions  →

Foundations of the Buddha’s Dhamma Retreat Book (PDF Version is Downloadable) →

Cancelation and Refund Policy ↓

Safety Protocols (If Necessary) ↓
Please see note below regarding room-sharing

Past Retreats Recordings →

Welcome to Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center Retreats

Our twelfth retreat at Won Dharma Center in Claverack NY begins April 22, 2021. Our first retreat here was in the spring of 2013. The center is about  3 hours from the Bucks County Pa. and the Hunterdon County NJ area. It is about an hour from Albany NY and about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Manhattan.John Teaching 2

Opened in 2012, the modern buildings have spacious and comfortable rooms on 450 acres of pristine beauty.  Information about Won Dharma Center and directions are linked at the top and bottom of this page.

Won Dharma Center staff will prepare all of our buffet-style vegetarian meals from Thursday dinner to Sunday lunch and all meals are included in the prices below. Special dietary needs can be accommodated.

Here is the introductory talk from our Spring 2019 retreat that clearly explains the purpose and structure of our retreats:

As with all of the Buddha’s Dhamma, our retreats are structured to have a direct engagement with his Dhamma allowing for the direct experience of integrating Jhana Meditation and the entire Eightfold Path.

The Buddha awakened to the profound understanding that the cause of dukkha, the cause of the underlying unsatisfactory nature of life, is rooted in ignorance. This is a specific ignorance that results in a confused and distractedGroup Outside 1mind prone to self-inflicted stress and suffering.

This often misunderstood and misapplied understanding is known as Dependent Origination. His very first teaching then was to explain The Four Noble Truths to bring direct wisdom where there was once ignorance.

As taught in the Pattica-Samupada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination, It is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that results in fabricated self-referential views in relation to impermanent and ordinary phenomena resulting in all manner of craving, aversion, and ongoing deluded thinking and ongoing stress and suffering referred to in the Buddha’s Dhamma as Dukkha.

Recognizing and abandoning this confused and fabricated view of self in relation to impermanent worldly phenomena resulting in ongoing stress and discontent is the  sole purpose and focus of an awakened human beings forty-five year teaching career.

This is the proper and intended development of Vipassana. Vipassana is loosely translated from the original Pali hat, in the context of an awakened human being’s Dhamma, means true and useful introspective insight.

John and Group Day Room 2Upon his awakening, the Buddha presented the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the sutta setting the wheel of truth in motion, to five friends. Upon hearing this discourse, Kondanna declared, “all conditioned things that arise are subject to cessation.” Upon hearing this the Buddha said, “you are now Anna-Kondanna, the one who understands.” Kondanna now understood the true nature of a human being and the impermanent world he lived in. This understanding developed in Kondanna a profound calm and peaceful mind. Kondanna becomes Rightly Self-Awakened through direct engagement with the Buddha’s authentic Dhamma.

Rather than a modern hybrid meditation method and associated fabricated and adapted “dharmas,” the Buddha’s Dhamma is focused on recognizing and abandoning all self-referential and fabricated views and practices while developing a profound and awakened understanding of individual human life in relation to the phenomenal world.

Dukkha originates in and is dependent on specific ignorance of Four Noble Truths. This is the profound knowledge the Buddha awakened to as described in the Paticca Samuppada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination.  [1]  Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta

The Buddha presented an Eightfold Path so that these teachings could be developed by anyone who would wholeheartedly engage with the path and develop a life of lasting peace and happiness. As such, the Eightfold Path provides the guidance and framework for our retreats.

On retreat, we gently strive to deepen our understanding of the Eightfold Path by engaging with the entire path and hearing and integrating relevant and powerful suttas direct from the Buddha as preserved in the second book of the Pali Canon, the Sutta Pitaka.

Thursday dinner and Sunday lunch will be an opportunity to practice Right Speech. Our meals on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday breakfast will be taken in Noble Silence. All other times we support each other in the Dhamma and observe Right Speech.

Retreats guided by the Buddha’s Dhamma are not retreats from the Dhamma and so are not silent. Our retreat environment will be very similar to the Buddha’s Sangha 2,600 years ago. The first Sangha was guided by a simple observance: When gathered as a sangha be mindful of the Dhamma so as to develop the Dhamma.

As with the first Sangha, the Eightfold Path will guide our thoughts, our speech, and our actions, and deepen our mindfulness of all aspects of the Path.

The purpose of a retreat is to enter a quiet space free of the distractions of daily life and engage deeply in the Dhamma. This is how useful insight is developed – from a quiet and well-concentrated mind that supports the refined mindfulness to experience what is occurring from Right View.

Our retreats are remarkable on many fronts, including the setting. The Won Dharma Center provides a spacious and beautiful natural setting, very comfortable and quiet rooms, and delicious but simple food. The staff is attentive and supporting without being intrusive.

Our retreats are structured by the Buddha’s dhamma as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon. Our retreats are a refuge form the world but not a retreat from the Dhamma so we avoid the asceticism of forced silence. Foundational suttas, Right Speech, and the entire Eightfold Path provide the framework and guidance supporting profound insight and integration of the Buddha’s Dhamma.

Retreats based on a clear understanding of the scope and purpose of the Buddha’s Dhamma avoid the extreme view that would result in denial of the senses necessary for skillful mindfulness such as the common practice of forced silence which leaves no opportunity to learn or to engage directly in the Eightfold Path.

A retreat is a time to disentangle from worldly events through the investigation and integration of the Eightfold Path. One of the Seven Factors of Awakening is the investigation of the Dhamma as taught in the Satipatthana and Anapanasati Suttas, and many others. Forced silence is not a factor of awakening for obvious reasons.

Direct investigation of the Buddha’s Dhamma first requires listening to the Dhamma from a teacher who has actually studied the Dhamma as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. This teacher would then avoid adapting, accommodating, or embellishing the Dhamma from their knowledge gained from studying and integrating the Dhamma. Once the Dhamma is heard then it becomes possible to integrate what is learned through the use of the Six-Sense Base generating the immediate visceral experience of the Dhamma during retreat.

By engaging in any extreme practice such as forced silence there is no opportunity for direct investigation of the Dhamma. Integrating the Buddha’s Dhamma requires the actual experience of mindfully engaging in all factors of the Dhamma through the use of the Six-Sense Base.

This is how the Buddha taught – to develop the framework of the Eightfold Path in order to recognize and abandon ignorance of Four Noble Truths – to empty oneself of ignorance.

“Not by silence does someone confused and unknowing turn into a sage.” Dhammapada 268

One of the first “rules” the Buddha established with the original sangha is that when gathered as a sangha to only discuss his Dhamma and have the Dhamma guide their moment-by-moment lives. In this way, every moment that unfolds is an immediate opportunity to develop and establish the teachings of an awakened human being. The Buddha taught the Middle Way of the Eightfold Path that avoids the extreme views that would result in sensory indulgence or ascetic practices. Avoiding asceticism of any kind and guided by the Eightfold Path, the mindful interaction of our sangha during retreat develops the Dhamma as originally intended.

The physical setting of our retreat reflects inner quiet. A tranquil and peaceful setting allows for our physical bodies to quiet and settle. our physical bodies come to stillness, our minds gently follow. Retreat is a time for inner inquiry and insight, a time to deepen understanding, and a time of taking refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, The Dhamma, and our Sangha.

We will be supported on our retreat by Matt Branham with morning meditation and his profound knowledge of QiGong – refreshing mind and body throughout our retreat.

Take refuge in this understanding and the true lineage of the Dhamma present at our retreat.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions: Contact John

The prices below include all retreat activities. There are no additional fees. We have engaged in Skillful Effort with the staff at the Won Dhamma center to provide a comfortable and peaceful venue for our retreat while keeping the cost as reasonable as we can.

All rooms are modern, spacious, airy, and quiet.

Please register as early as possible to ensure your choice of room and assist with our planning.

Currently available accommodations are on the reservation form.

  • Single Occupancy room includes 3 nights lodging and 9 meals: $740 (3 single rooms available)
  • Double Occupancy room includes 3 nights lodging and 9 meals: $560
  • Quad room includes 3 nights lodging and 9 meals: $450 (women only this retreat – limited availability)

Retreat Reservations →

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Foundations of the Buddha’s Dhamma Retreat Schedule

(subject to impermanence):


  • 3:00 pm to – 5:30 pm Check-in
  • 5:30 Dinner – Right Speech
  • 7:00 to 9:00 – Jhana meditation, Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
  • The importance of retreat and taking refuge in the Buddha, his Dhamma, and a well-focused Sangha, Developing Right View from Wrong View.
  • Bhaddaheratta Sutta – An Auspicious Day
  • Nothing Personal – A Buddha’s Analysis Of Self – Dhatu Vibhanga Sutta


  • 6:45 To 7:15 am – 30-minute Jhana meditation (Optional) With Matt Branham
  • 7:30 – Breakfast – Noble Silence
  • 8:45 to 9:15 – QiGong with Matt Branham
  • 9:30 to 11:00 – Jhana Meditation and Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    • The Buddha’s  Noble Search For The Noble Path – Ariyapariyesanna Sutta
  • 12 noon Lunch – Noble Silence
  • 1:30 to 2:00 – QiGong with Matt Branham
  • 2:15 to 4:00 – Jhana Meditation and Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    • Nagara Sutta – The Buddha Describes His Awakening
  • 5:30 Dinner – Noble Silence
  • 7:00 to 9:00 – Jhana Meditation and Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    Paticcasamuppada Sutta – Dependent Origination – Ignorance of Four Noble Truths


  • 6:45 To 7:15 am – 30-minute Jhana meditation (Optional) With Matt Branham
  • 7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence
  • 8:45 to 9:15 – QiGong with Matt Branham
  • 9:30 to 11:00 – Jhana meditation, Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    • The Meaning of Becoming – What Is Awakening – Thew Loka, Bhava, and Mula Suttas
  • 12 noon – Lunch – Noble Silence
  • 1:30 to 2:30 – Qigong with Matt Branham
  • 2:30 – 5:30 – Quiet Time
  • 5:30 Dinner – Noble Silence
  • 7:00 to 8:30 – Jhana meditation, Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    • Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – Four Noble Truths – Context For Dhamma Practice
    • Sacca Vibhanga Sutta – Analysis Of Four Noble Truths
  • 8:30 Mindful Social – Right Speech In Practice


  • 6:45 To 7:15 am – 30-minute Jhana meditation (Optional) With Matt Branham
  • 7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence
  • 8:45 to 9:15 – QiGong with Matt Branham
  • 9:30 to 11:00 – Jhana meditation, Dhamma Talk, Sangha Q&A, and Discussion, with John Haspel
    • Magga-Vibhanga Sutta – Analysis of The Eightfold Path
    • Bahiya Sutta
  • 12 noon Lunch – Right Speech
  • 1:00 pm – Closing Talk and Sangha Appreciation (Group Hug and Pic)

Retreat Reservations →

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Please read this page carefully. These dates are determined by our agreement with The Won Dharma Center and is our Retreat Cancellation and Refund policy.

Cancellations and refund requests can be made via our email form.

Cancellation received 8 weeks prior to the start of retreat – Full Refund

Cancellation received 4 weeks prior to the start of retreat- 50% refund

Cancellation received AFTER 4 weeks prior to the start of retreat – Any Refund Unlikely – Contact John

Please feel free to contact me with any questions via email. Thank You

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Foundations of the Buddha’s Dhamma Retreat Safety Protocols
Please note that these restrictions may be lessened by the time of our retreat.

  • Please note that unless you are attending our retreat with someone you currently cohabitate with, the Ministers of Won Dharma center have asked that all attendees housed in rooms by themselves. This policy may change and I will notify those whio have reserved a room.
  • Please take your temperature before leaving. If you have a fever, please join us on our next retreat in September 2021
  • If you know or think you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, please join us on our next retreat in September 2021
  • If you have minor cold or flu-like symptoms, please join us at our April 2021 Retreat.
  • Drive directly to Won Dharma center with no stops.
  • Upon arrival stop at Won Dharma Center office, while wearing a mask, to check-in, and for a temperature check by Won staff.
  • Remain on Won Dharma Center grounds throughout our retreat.
  • Upon arrival, change your travel clothes, place in a bag, and don not wear again while on retreat. Laundry facilities are also available.
  • Wearing masks in our residence and during sessions is encouraged but not required. 
  • Wash hands before and after each session.
  • Reasonable social distancing will be observed. 
  • Masks will be required during interaction with Won staff and 6 feet social distancing when possible and during meals in the dining hall.
  • If you have any concerns regarding these protocols, please join us at our September 2021 Retreat.

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