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Santtu Heikkinen

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa!

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About me

A warm welcome to you, friend. :) For a friend you are to me, you living, breathing, beautiful jewel of a being. I know you feel, I know you think - and that makes you a friend to me. May you be happy.

 

I'm Santtu, a meditation coach, Dharma teacher and academic philosopher with deep experience and training in the various strands of Buddhist philosophy and practice, Western analytical philosophy, and depth psychology, with a solid grounding in the contemporary empirical sciences. My view and methodology stem from lifelong practice and study, and a driven, curious, universalist perspective that integrates material and insights from traditions all the world over, from the vast, cumulative, collective wisdom of this curious, young animal we call human. No resource or tradition is to be excluded. The mysteries of reality, of life, and of the myriad ways in which we can beautify and beatify our existence deserve as wide a perspective and methodology as possible. I teach locally in Finland and internationally through Zoom. 

I've been teaching meditation, spiritual and psychological practices, and philosophy as my main livelihood since 2019. My meditative practice lineage derives primarily from my personal teachers: Upāsaka Culadasa, Tucker Peck, and Leigh Brasington. In addition to them, I have received teachings and practices from a wide variety of sources during a decade of retreats and other practice-oriented forays in Europe and Asia. The Soulmaking Dharma of Rob Burbea and his associates is a practice tradition I resonate with particularly deeply. The name Niccolaggi - "a flame revealed" - is an upāsaka name, the traditional name of a dedicated lay practitioner I received from Tucker, my second teacher.

I teach a wide variety of meditative practices I have learned and integrated during my own course of practice. For a  beginner to meditation I would offer a basic curriculum that follows a relatively set path. I usually begin with just sitting (shikantaza or open awareness -style practice) to establish a relaxed and accepting orientation towards one's experience, followed by traditional ānāpānasati - breath meditation - to establish a sense of concentration (samādhi) and tranquillity (samatha). Then come practices of generating and cultivating positive energy states and emotions, such as the brahmavihāras (states of lovingkindness, sympathetic joy, compassion, and equanimity) and the four form jhānas. The next step is insight practice, and this can take the form either of deep auto-psychological inquiry into the content of one's mind, the sources of one's suffering in particular, or of an investigation of the mechanics, dynamics and structure of one's lived-in experience. Both approaches will in most cases be included in whatever order seems fit. Insight practice ultimately aims to establish deep insight into the core Buddhist principles of impermanence/insecurity (aniccā), the unsatisfactoriness of particular goals and phenomena (dukkha), the lack of any fixed foundation for a solidified sense of self (anattā), and finally the very essence of insight, emptiness (śūnyatā). Emptiness of self, emptiness of other; emptiness of views, emptiness of phenomena. This is liberating.

You may start practicing with me at any stage of your own practice, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. The actual route of practice we'll take is by no means set in stone: we will see what you have learned and experienced so far, and work on that basis to round out whatever avenues are yet unexplored but deemed valuable for your happiness and sense of purpose.

 

Philosophically my views on life, reality, the mind, and on the fundaments of a good, happy life could principally be described as Buddhist-Platonist-Jungian in character. These three strands of thought form the core essence of how I see the world and humanity's place in it. They are informed both by what I find likely, or most coherent - based not only on my scientific and philosophical training, but also on my deep involvement with my own psyche and mystical states of consciousness - and also by what I find useful, or the most beautiful. For views are tools, and, seeing the ultimate emptiness of all views (for they are only views, never reality itself), these tools can be flexibly utilized not only in the ever-elusive task of finding the factual truth about reality, but also to promote a way of relating to that reality that makes for the most beautiful, happy and harmonious existence possible, not only for oneself but for all beings.

I have received much from other traditions as well, and want to mention Daoism, Christian mysticism, the various Hindu traditions, and of course the sciences as perspectives I have engaged with particularly deeply. Again, I hold great respect for all  traditions. At their core they all speak of the same thing, the same reality of mind and phenomena we are all faced with.

As part of my academic work I have written a concise analytical exploration of panpsychism as a contemporary theory of consciousness, Panpsychism and the Combination Problem, published in 2021 by Creative Fire Press. My most recent academic work concerns contemporary formulations of idealist metaphysics - that is, views under which mind or mentality is seen as the most fundamental ground of reality.

 

I  have practiced taijiquan for ten years now and taught it locally since late 2019. I have undergone training in Focusing, a self-therapy technique which has informed my view on practice and the way I teach.

Again, a very warm welcome to you, my friend. Now that you know something about me, if you feel like it, do introduce yourself as well. You may send me an email or book a call if that tickles your fancy. :)

 

May you be well, may you be happy. May you never be separated from your hope, your love, your happiness. May your days be filled with beauty, insight, and grace.

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"In knowing fully the thorough voidness of this and that, of then and now, of there and here, this heart opens in joy, in awe and release. Free itself, it knows the essential freedom in everything."

Rob Burbea
Seeing That Frees

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Book a time with me

You can use the Calendly app embedded here to book a time with me. You can also send me an email message directly at niccolaggi@gmail.com if you'd like to schedule that way, but Calendly should work well.

I offer (at least) the following services:

- One-on-one mid-to-long-term coaching in meditative practices and Dharma, which involves some therapeutic aspects

- Single appointments around particular questions in practice or theory

- Lessons in philosophy, Buddhist or otherwise

- Supervising solo-retreats: if you'd like to go on retreat but can't find one near you, a solo retreat can be a great idea. I can draft you a schedule to follow and meet with you several times during your retreat to supervise your practice.

You may specify what you are looking for when booking a time, but it's also okay to just book a session and see what happens. :)

All my teaching is done on a dāna basis. My livelihood depends on the dāna I receive from teaching, so some form of fee is, generally speaking, required. The amount, though, is up to you. It should feel relatively easy to give, comfortable, not like a sacrifice; something you want to give to me, not something forced. It's a great practice in healthy generosity in its own right. What you essentially want to do here is to avoid the extremes of stinginess and unhappy self-sacrifice.

If, however, you are genuinely very poor and can't spare a single dime, just tell me and you won't have to give anything. Your socio-economic status should never form an obstacle to the training.

Upcoming retreats, courses etc.

Residential retreat

August 16th to 25th

I will be teaching a small, intimate retreat from August 16th to the 25th this upcoming summer. The retreat will be held in Finland at a lakeside summer cabin in the woods near the village of Pyhältö, around a 30-minute drive from the city of Hamina. The locale has indoor sleeping spaces for 7 people excluding myself, but there's a flat area for two or three tents if more people want to attend and can bring a tent along. :)

 

The registration fee for the retreat (to cover food, rent of car, and any necessary utilities) is 200 euros. Whatever is left of the budget will be returned to the participants after the retreat (unless we go over budget, which I very much doubt we will), and the teaching and organization itself are based on voluntarily sized dāna. If we do go over budget I'll pay the rest from the dāna received.

 

I have uploaded some photos of the location in this google drive folder, so you can take a look for yourself.

 

The cabin has solar-powered electricity but no running water, so facilities are quite rural in that regard. It's going to be warm and there's a fireplace and some gas heaters, and I will routinely go fill our water tanks at a nearby village so drinking water is not a problem, but washing will be done with lake water (either warmed up in the sauna or by just going for a swim in the warm water!) and the toilet is an outhouse. 

 

It's quite comfortable though, and the fire-heated sauna will be in use every evening. Blueberries are going to be ripe at the time as well, and there's no end to them! So a lot of swimming, hiking in the woods, eating blueberries and sauna. :) There might still be mosquitoes around, but I will provide plenty of repellents for participants to use.

 

So this will be a particularly intimate, small gathering very close to nature. And that ties into the themes of the retreat.

 

The primary focus of the retreat is in cultivating ways of looking and relating to the elements, life, the sun, and other aspects of nature - including our own bodies and minds - that promote beauty, a sense of connectedness, and a sense of the sacred. The retreat will begin with themes of samādhi and emptiness practices to clear the way so to say, to make the mind flexible, open and contented, before progressing on to direct working with the elements and nature. The theme is therefore very resonant with the Soulmaking Dharma tradition founded by Rob Burbea and his associates - a combination of deconstructing views on self and other and attaining flexibility in ways of looking, and then utilizing that flexibility in constructing beautiful and skilful ways of looking that promote happiness and pleasant depth of meaning.

 

Of course, as always, you are also free to practice in whatever way you see fit. 

 

The retreat will include a talk and/or communal sharing space every evening and mandatory one-on-one interviews every other day (with additional ones available on request on the off-days). Participants will take turns to help with the cooking. All food offered is vegan.

 

There is some flexibility with the dates, so if you immediately feel like you'd like to attend but the time suggested doesn't quite work for you, please let me know. 

If you think you'd like to participate or have any questions about the retreat, send me an email to niccolaggi@gmail.com! :)

Retreats etc.

Four-week introductory course to meditation
Mondays 17th June to 10th July

I am offering a four-week introductory course to meditation online on Monday evenings 20:00/8 pm to 22:00/10 pm Finnish time (again, 6 pm UK time, 1 pm EST, 11 am PST) starting on the 17th of June, if there are enough people interested. So the dates would be the 17th and 24th of June, and 3rd and 10th of July.

 

If you don't feel like you'd need this one, but have friends who are interested in meditation yet haven't found the time or the resources to delve into it properly, please feel free to let them know! The course will be focused mainly on shikantaza/just sitting and ānāpānasati/breath meditation, with a brief foray into energy and heart practice at the end of the course.

 

The sessions introduce a meditation practice for the following week. They begin (with the exception of the first) with a group meditation of the previous week's practice, followed by sharing of experiences and Q&A, a brief talk, and finally a guided meditation on the next week's practice.

 

The course is, as always, based on dāna. Some fee is required, but that is up to the participants and their means.

 

The idea is to provide at least a three-tiered course structure with follow-up intermediate and intermediate-2/advanced courses after this one. The second one will be mostly focused on heart practices, with a foray into jhāna and perhaps some insight work, and the third one on jhāna and insight.

Anyone who wants to participate can send me an email to niccolaggi@gmail.com. :)

Media

For examples of the kind of stuff I teach in writing, check out my Reddit comments: https://www.reddit.com/user/Adaviri

I am about to write a more extensive version of my take on Dharma some time in the next few years. I have started this project several times but have always found myself not quite ready after all. I feel I am getting closer to something worth sharing at the moment. I welcome questions about the project, so if you want to ask about it, send me an email! :)

I upload weekly talks of roughly 30 minutes in length. Topics involve around meditation, Dharma, philosophy, and spirituality in general.

This is a talk on the varieties of meditative practice I gave as part of a retreat at Lammi in September 2022. It's a more concise and refined version of the 'fivefold practice' model I discussed at VRMystery School a year before this. I feel this would be a good watch especially for intermediate practitioners, but advanced folks should find something interesting in it as well! :)

This four-part playlist consists of recordings of my Dharma talks from a retreat held in Lammi, Finland, in May 2022. The talks are relatively advanced and touch on many central topics in Dharma: emptiness, the nature of liberation and nirvāṇa, the role of love and beauty on the path, the causes of suffering and the impossibility of "real" suffering, how to work with the mind for insight, and many others. I strongly suggest this series to anyone interested in my take on Dharma and for all advanced students in Buddhism. At least talks 2 to 4 should be watched in order for them to make the most sense.

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