„In stillness mind and object merge.“

—Dogen Zenji, Zen Master, Japan, 13th century

The healing power of Zen

Zen-Retreat with Bernd Bender
Athens, October 6–8, 2017

Free Introductory Lecture on Zen: Friday, October 6, 7-10p.m.
Retreat Sat. & Sun., October 7-8, 11a.m–6.p.m.

This retreat is open for everyone: people with or without meditation experience.


We human beings feel split. Split into body and mind, split into past and present, split into you and me. Plato described this split in his Symposium, in which he gives us a mythological story about the consequences of this separation: our nature is unfulfilled, and we spend our lives trying to find what gives us lasting satisfaction.

Zen has also been talking about this split — however, Zen teaches that this division is a function of the human mind and that when we can see this, we heal, we return to our original nature, the unity or oneness with ourselves and others.

The Zen teachings are of an utmost relevance for our lives in a globalised world. Information technologies and interconnected global markets make apparent what Zen and other wisdom cultures have been expressing for centuries: everything is connected with everything else. However, more and more people, groups and nations respond to this situation with fear and attempts of separation, thinking they can take care of their own needs without considering the needs of others.

Furthermore, people and entire nations are stuck in traumatic wounds inflicted by past conflicts and acts of division. These influence the present and stop people and societies from deeply appreciating their lives in the actual act of living them.

In this retreat we will engage in two activities:

1. We will be experiencing the healing power of Zen meditation. In making an effort to bring the body-mind back to the immediate present, the split within us, and the separation we feel from others and our surroundings will heal, and we can once again experience the inspiring freshness of our lives.

2. We will share our stories about how we personally have been hurt by acts of separation, and how, perhaps, we have hurt others. Simply in listening and expressing ourselves in a mindful, authentic way, the wounds of the past will close.


Friday evening will begin with an introduction into meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice. Saturday and Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect about our own experience.
We will have lunch together in silence, and have individual opportunities to meet and speak with the teacher.

Bernd Bender has practiced Zen since 1987. He went to California in 1994 to continue his studies at San Francisco Zen Center. Bernd received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach) and is a lineage holder in the Zen tradition. In 2012 he moved to Berlin and opened Akazienzendo, a place for a contemporary expression of Zen. ( Since 2014 he has also been teaching at Zen Center Athens ( While continuing to teach at Zen Center Athens, Bernd will also conduct additional retreats for people who are interested in practicing with him on a regular basis.

In order to make this practice available to anyone who is interested, it is offered on a donation basis. If you can, please give in order to support Zen practice in Athens. If your funds are limited, please feel free to come and give your interest and effort.

Friday evening: Introduction into Zen-meditation: free
Saturday & Sunday: Zazen, dharma talks, private conversations with teacher: 40€ both days or 25€ / day
Location: NYSY Studios, Nikis 25, Syntagma, Athens 10557

Questions & registration:

You can attend parts of the retreat. Financial assistance & scholarships available.