The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness - Away Retreat on Vancouver Island


Away Retreat – Nanaimo

DATES:  Apr 19 – 23.  You can book 4 nights (Wed-Sun) or just the weekend (Fri-Sun).

TEACHER:  Gen Kelsang Zopa

WHERE:  Bethlehem Retreat Centre, Nanaimo BC


(1)  $830/person, includes accomodation for 4 nights, 12 meals and all sessions.  Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon.

(2) $440/person, includes accomodation for 2 nights, 6 meals and all sessions.  Friday evening through Sunday afternoon

(3) For Locals – a commuter price of $330 for Weds to Sun or $175 for the weekend only. All meals and sessions within the timeframe included.

The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness

In this retreat we will focus on Buddha’s meditations on love and compassion.  First, we need to  gain spiritual confidence by recognizing the pure potential of our own heart and mind, our Buddha nature.  Then we can begin to open our heart to others, and let go of our closed, defensive, and self-centred state.  Through strengthening our love for others we discover a boundless freedom from within.
“Minds such as love and kindness are based on reality and are an expression of our true nature.”  Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Love is a powerful force for healing, transformation and forgiveness. It has the power to gradually overcome anger and resentment, transform relationships, and pave the way to a Buddha’s enlightenment.  We all have some experience of love, but we may not realize how easy it is to cultivate and grow pure love in our hearts through meditation.

Meditation on love and compassion elevates our mind to its highest state, bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is a mind that spontaneously wishes to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings.  It is our inner Spiritual Guide, and the real wishfulfilling jewel through which we can fulfill our own and others’ wishes.  In this retreat we will listen to, contemplate and meditate on Buddha’s teachings to help us develop this precious mind of bodhichitta.

This weekend retreat includes instruction, guided meditations, and group prayers.  There will be time to enjoy a stroll around Westwood Lake where you’ll find bluffs with a spectacular view of the lake and Mt. Benson.



Gen Kelsang Zopa

A Canadian Buddhist monk, Gen Zopa has been presenting the profound and practical teachings of the Buddhist path for over 25 years.  Renowned for the clarity and depth of his teachings, his warmth and practicality bring to life the ancient art of meditation.

Bethlehem Retreat Centre is a healing environment that provides quiet and beautiful surroundings for a retreat.  Situated in a wooded acreage in Nanaimo, Bethlehem Centre looks out over Westwood Lake against the backdrop of Mt. Benson.  There is a well-groomed path around the lake, swimming for those who like a morning dip, and trails up Mt. Benson for the more adventurous.  Click here to go to the Bethlehem Retreat Centre Site.
Q. Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend?
No. Anyone can learn basic meditation and experience the benefits that come from having a peaceful mind.
Q. Do I need to have any experience?
No. Everyone is welcome, including beginners. All you need is the wish to improve yourself and the quality of your life.
Q. How should I dress? Is there physical exercise involved?
No special clothing is required.  You just need to be comfortable and prepared for weather changes.  The classroom area and the eating and sleeping areas are seperate buildings, so you will have to go outside between sessions.
Seating will be in chairs or you can bring your own cushion if you wish.   There is no physical exercise during sessions.
During breaks you may want to avail yourself of the hiking trails, but it is not required.
Q. What is the schedule for the retreat?
You can arrive anytime after 3:30pm on either Wednesday or Friday and check into your room.  Dinner will be at 5:30pm.  The Introductory Session will be at 7:00pm on Wednesday for those attending the full 5 day retreat and at 7:00 pm on Friday for those attending for the weekend only.

There will be 3 meals and 5 sessions* on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4 sessions on Sunday.  The retreat will end at 2 pm on Sunday.

You may read and download a copy of the detailed schedule HERE.


*Morning Meditation plus 3 to 4 teaching with meditation sessions

Q. What are the accommodations like?
For the most part, each person will have their own room – very simple accomodations with a full or twin bed. Towels and sheets will be provided.

NEW THIS YEAR – We have a limited number of rooms with 2 twin beds.  You can book these as a single or if you want to share with a partner or close friend, you can each book that type of room and identify your roommate.  (We still need one registration per person.)

Restrooms are shared in all cases.

If you need to avoid stairs or have other physical requirements for your accomodations, please indicate on your registration.

Q. What dietary restrictions can be accomodated?
Six meals are included starting with dinner on Friday night and ending with lunch on Sunday.  All meals are vegetarian.

Gluten-free, non-dairy and vegan dietary requirements can be accomodated easily and you can identify this on your registration.  If you have food allergies or other dietary needs, please let us know and we will see what can be done.


Q. Do I need to book in advance?
Yes, you must book in advance.  You can book for the full 5 day/4 night option starting January 16th at 8am.  Booking for the weekend only option will open in mid-February. Registration will be open until there is no space or April 7 at 9 pm, whichever comes first.  If you have questions, please email us at
Q. What is the cost?
The cost per person for individual accomodation for 2  nights, all 6 meals and all sessions is $400.

A limited number of commuter spaces will be available for $250 each.  This includes all meals and all sessions.

Q. What is the cancellation policy?
Our cancellation policy reflects the deposit and cancellation  policies of Bethlehem Centre.

Full Payment is due at the time of registration. Refunds, less a $50 per person booking fee, will be available until March 17. For cancelations from March 18 -March 28 we will be able to refund you 50% of the fees less the $50 booking fee. After that time, there will be no refund available unless a substitute is located.

Q: What are the applicable Covid-19 precautions/restrictions?
There are no specific restrictions at this time.  Any applicable government guidelines will be enforced if such occurs.

All sleeping accomodations are individual, but the bathrooms are shared.  Sanitizing materials will be provided to clean surfaces between uses.

We will eat communally.  You can elect in your registration if you prefer a table where there is silence during the meal or not.

Masks will be encouraged in the class room.