‘From Hungry Ghost to Being Human – without stopping in Hell’ by Vince Cullen

Hungry-Ghost-Retreat-New-Life-Foundation (12)I have always been interested in the use of Buddhist-oriented principles and practices in helping people find recovery. I recently asked Vince Cullen, who often blogged on Wired In To Recovery about a Buddhist approach to recovery,  if he would tell us a little about himself and what he does.

If you are interested in what Vince does, please note that he is running a retreat in Coatbridge, Scotland on 8th July which you might like to attend. Details are provided below.

‘Vince Cullen is an ex-alcoholic who has been associated with the world famous Wat Thamkrabok monastery in Thailand and Buddhist-oriented drug and alcohol recovery since 1998.

This year he will be facilitating four 5-day mindfulness retreats exploring Buddhist-oriented principles and practices leading to long lasting, relaxed and happy recovery.

These mainly residential retreats are planned for Ireland, Thailand and Scotland.  The next of these retreats will be in Coatbridge, Scotland at the Conforti Institute from Monday 8th July until Friday 12th July, 2013.

  • The background to these retreats uses a modern depiction of the Wheel of Life – as a model for addiction and recovery.
  • The ancient traditional principles and practices of Sajja (seeing the truth of our addiction & our commitment to change) and Precepts (the Buddha’s original harm reduction & relapse prevention programme) will be explored as foundations of a Buddhist approach to recovery.
  • The essential practices of Loving-kindness and Forgiveness – for healing hearts and minds in recovery – will be central to each day’s practice.
  • Each retreatant is given a personal set of Tibetan Prayer Flags.  One side of each flag is decorated with wood block prints of auspicious mantras, syllables and prayers – the other side is blank.
  • Throughout the 5-days, as the retreat progresses, retreatants can write the names – starting with their own – of all the many people that they want to send the blessings of loving-kindness and compassion to on personal prayer-flags. They may also write their own personal prayers and wishes.
  • Retreatants will also write the names – starting with their own – of the people from whom they might want to ask for forgiveness.
  • And lastly, they will write the names – starting with their own name – of all of the people that they may wish to forgive.

Vince (56) lives in England with his wife and two sons.

“There is life without alcohol and other drugs – a life free from conflict, shame, and guilt – a life free of craving, aversion and confusion.  It’s a good life.  Everyday Nirvana, every day!”

The Scottish Recovery Consortium, (a small independent charity funded by the Scottish Government to support the implementation of national drug strategy), are offering Sponsored places to some individuals to attend the retreat and take what they learn back into their local recovery community.

Please check out the following:

YouTube Clip of Vince Cullen interview

Virtual Interview of Vince

Past Blog 

In addition to the ‘Hungry Ghost’ retreats Vince provides a number of online services for addicts including the official Thamkrabok Monastery website and the unofficial Thamkrabok Network website.

In 2009, Vince became a charter member of the Buddhist Recovery Network and established the Fifth Precept meditation for recovery group in Berkshire, UK.

Vince is currently collaborating with others in Ireland, Europe, USA and Australia to offer online recovery meetings via the Fifth Precept Recovery Group.

Vince completed a 2-year Committed Dhamma Practitioners Programme (CDPP) run by Gaia House in Devon, England in 2012; and is currently the Buddhist Prison Chaplain at HMP Coldingley.

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Vince at vince.cullen@tara-detox.org.’