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Awakening to Unconditional Love and Compassion

June 3 - June 7


Awakening to Unconditional Love and Compassion: A 5-Day Compassion Meditation Retreat with Lama John Makransky, PhD

Lama John Makransky, who led the Benedictine Retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery in 2018 with Paul Knitter and Sister Lynne Smith, OSB, is coming back to Madison to teach a 5-day silent retreat.

In this retreat, we will explore ways of accessing our innate awareness of unconditional love and compassion through practices adapted from Tibetan Buddhism. By participating in an empowering field of loving and spiritual connection, we become receptive to the unconditioned openness, wisdom and compassionate energy of our buddha nature. This enables us to sense our undividedness from other beings and the earth in the emptiness and interdependence of all.

Parts of us, often unconsciously, can prevent us from becoming more fully receptive to such qualities of awakening. So we will also focus on ways by which the healing powers of our buddha nature can help realign all such parts of ourselves with that nature. Then our innate awareness can increasingly manifest itself, unleashing powers of discernment and creative responsiveness for service as well as for social and ecological activism.

This retreat is for people of all faiths and backgrounds who seek an accessible way to cultivate unconditional powers of love, compassion and discernment for action. Guided meditations, explanation of key principles and shared conversation will clarify and empower practice. Noble Silence and Mindful Speech will be observed through much of the retreat.


Daily Retreat Schedule

  • Wednesday June 3 to Saturday June 6, 2020: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Sunday June 7, 2020: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

The daily schedule will include morning and afternoon teachings by Lama John Makransky, guided meditation practices, periods of silence and opportunities for shared reflection.

  • Lunch break: 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Dinner: 5:15-6:15 pm

There will be evening offerings taught by Foundation for Active Compassion teachers: 6:30-8:00 pm


Registration and Cost:

Lama John has requested that registrants participate for all 5 days of the retreat. No partial registrations are available.

Lunch (Wednesday through Sunday) and dinner (Wednesday through Saturday) are included in the registration costs.

  • Base Rate: $375
    • This level covers the actual costs of delivering this program.


  • Sponsorship Rate: $425
    • This level allows us to support participants who cannot afford the base rate registration.


Partial Scholarship Opportunities

The highest priority of the Foundation for Active Compassion (FAC) is to make Buddhist teachings accessible to all who would like to attend. Through the generosity of FAC, partial scholarships are available for students and for those on a fixed or limited income. To apply, contact Julie by email at juliabforsythe@gmail.com to make your request.



Holy Wisdom will provide vegetarian meals. Please indicate during registration if you have other dietary restrictions.


Registration Questions

For registration questions, please email Carole Kretschman at inheart@tds.net.


Local Accommodations

Madison-area residents are encouraged to commute daily to permit out-of-town participants to attend.

There are a limited number of rooms available at Holy Wisdom Monastery on a first come, first served basis for an additional cost. Please indicate when you register if you would like to stay at Holy Wisdom.

  • $274 single room, includes overnight lodging (Wed., Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights) and continental breakfasts (Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun. mornings)
  • $326 double room (for 2 people), includes overnight lodging (Wed., Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights) and continental breakfasts (Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun. mornings)
  • $384 hermitage single, includes overnight lodging in a hermitage with kitchen (Wed., Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights) and continental breakfasts in the guest house (Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun. mornings)
  • $424 hermitage double (for 2 people), includes overnight lodging in a hermitage with kitchen (Wed., Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights) and continental breakfasts in the guest house (Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun. mornings)

Rooms are also available at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 8212 Greenway Blvd, Middleton, WI, from June 3-6, 2020, during the retreat. A block of 20 rooms are reserved until noon on May 4, 2020. After this date, rooms may still be available, but not at the promotional rate listed below.

  • 10 rooms with 1 king bed for $109 per night
  • 10 with 2 queen beds for $119 per night

Guests should contact the Fairfield Inn directly to reserve and pay for rooms at 608-831-1400 and mention they are reserving a room under the group “Holy Wisdom Monastery.”


About Lama John Makransky, PhD

Lama John Makransky is a well-known Buddhist scholar and gifted Western meditation teacher. John established and is the guiding meditation teacher of the Foundation for Active Compassion, and is the author of the popular book, Awakening through Love.  Academically, John is professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College and senior academic advisor and lecturer for Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal. His research has focused on doctrines and practices of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, on adapting meditation practices for contemporary applications, and on theoretical issues in interfaith learning.  Since 1978, John has studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of his Tibetan teachers, and in 2000 was ordained a Buddhist lama in the lineage of Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche.  Since then, John has made meditations of innate compassion and wisdom from Tibet newly accessible to people of all backgrounds and faiths by teaching these meditation methods to people in many caring roles and professions, including healthcare givers, teachers, mental health professionals, social workers, hospice volunteers, and social change agents.

For more information, teachings, and guided meditations by Lama John Makransky, please visit the Foundation for Active Compassion: https://foundationforactivecompassion.org/


Retreat Location

Holy Wisdom Monastery
4200 Co Hwy M
Middleton, WI 53562

Get Google directions



The registration deadline is May 20, 2020, but will close once the retreat is full.

There is a 50% refund until the May 20, 2020 registration deadline, no refund after the deadline.


June 3
June 7
Event Category:


Holy Wisdom Monastery*
4200 County Road M
Middleton, WI 53562 United States

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Contact Info

Holy Wisdom Monastery
4200 County Road M
Middleton WI 53562
608-836-1631, x100
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