The Emptiness of the Mind Retreat | Bodhichitta Kadampa Buddhist Centre


Weekend Away Retreat


DATES:  Friday Apr 24 – Sunday Apr 26

TEACHER:  Gen Kelsang Zopa

WHERE:  Bethlehem Retreat Centre, Nanaimo BC

REGISTRATION:  The Bethlehem Retreat Centre has temporarily closed due to CORONA-19 precautions.  We regret that the “Emptiness of the Mind” retreat will have to be postponed to a future date.


All phenomena that appear to my mind are the nature of my mind. My mind is the nature of emptiness.’  We often feel stuck in painful habits of thought, such as anxiety, depression or feelings of hurt. Because we perceive our mind to be fixed and unchanging we feel trapped in these ordinary and painful emotions.

But this seemingly inflexible mind does not correspond to our reality. By experiencing the mind’s actual nature, its emptiness, we understand that our potential for change is limitless, that freedom from unhappiness and indeed Enlightenment is possible.  

In this retreat we will emphasize familiarizing ourself with both the conventional and ultimate natures of the mind.   These insights will help us to become more open-hearted and skilful in letting go of unhappy feelings and delusions, and empower our most profound practices such as universal love and compassion.

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. He teaches introductory classes, Foundation Program and the Teacher Training Program in the Victoria region. 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 a quite 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?
No special clothing is required, come as you are.
Q. Is there any physical exercise involved?
No. The classes focus on meditation and teachings alone. You can choose to sit on a chair or meditation cushion.
Q. What is the schedule for the retreat?

You can arrive anytime after 3:30pm on Friday and check into your room.  Dinner will be at 5:30pm.  The Introductory Session will be at 7:30pm on Friday.

There will be 3 meals and 5 sessions on Saturday and 2 meals and 3 sessions on Sunday.  The retreat will end at 2 pm on Sunday.

You may read and download a copy of the detailed schedule at this link.

Q. Do I need to book in advance?

Yes, you must book in advance.  You can book online HERE.  Registration will open Feb 24 and be open until there is no space or  April 10, whichever comes first.  If you have questions, please email us at

Q: What precautions has Bethlehem put in place for Covid-19?

To Bethlehem partners, supporters, friends and guests;

For anyone who is considering travel, near or far, this is a time of growing concern around COVID-19 (‘coronavirus’). The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the current public health risk associated with coronavirus as low. However,
it is a time to be aware and proactive, and with this in mind, I wanted to provide you with an update on our response to date. The health, safety and well-being of our employees and guests at the Centre is paramount, and we are following the lead of federal, provincial and local public health authorities at this important time. We are committed to providing a safe environment at the Centre, will continue to monitor developments. First and foremost, I want to assure our guests that we are taking all appropriate measures to ensure our rooms and facilities are safe and that we have plans in place to ensure they stay that way.
At Bethlehem Centre, we hold ourselves to very high standards of cleanliness at all times. However, we have taken additional steps to ensure safety, including:

  • All surfaces are being washed with our usual hydrogenic cleaner and then secondarily sprayed with quaternary sanitizer.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols in all high ‘hand touch’ areas, which includes more frequent wiping and sanitization
  • Extra deep cleaning is being done to each room after guest check out
  • Coronaviruses are easily eliminated by routine surface cleaning and the cleaning products we use are industrial-grade for general space and food-service approved for areas of food preparation and service
  • Frequent, daily communications updates shared and discussed with all staff
  • Increasing communications and reminders with guests and posted signage about the importance of precautionary health
  • and safety measures

To protect yourself and others, we ask that anyone who is feeling unwell refrain from visiting us so that together we can ensure a safe and comfortable experience for everyone. Staff are aware that they are not to report to work if they have any indications of ill health. We are a small organization and are all interconnected.
We remain open and welcome guests every day. As with the rest of the world, we continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide updates as needed. We also encourage our guests to stay up-to-date through Canada’s Public Health website.

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you soon.

Sophia Sorensen

Executive Director, Bethlehem Centre
From Bodhichitta Buddhist Centre:
We are asking Bethlehem to put sanitizer in each bathroom so everyone can clean the surcfaces they have touched each time they use that common space.
We will observed social distancing in the meditation room.
And we are happy to say your rooms are private.