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Hermes Amāra Foundation

The Hermes Amāra Foundation (HAF) was established in September 2019 at the request of the late Dharma and meditation teacher Rob Burbea (1965 - 2020). Its main role is as custodian of his extensive body of teachings. HAF also exists to support the teachers and sangha (community of practitioners) engaging with Rob's work.
photo of Rob from behind sitting on a chair by the river

The Birth of HAF

A year before he died Rob Burbea expressed his wish that a foundation be set up to house and protect the extensive body of work he would be leaving as his Dharma legacy. This felt particularly important to Rob for the soulmaking teachings. The Soulmaking Dharma framework (or logos) was still really in its infancy when he died, and he was acutely aware of its vulnerability to misinterpretation and 'watering down'. So, in September 2019 at his invitation, three of Rob's students founded the Hermes Amāra Foundation, named by Rob after the imprint of his book Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising. ‘Hermes’ after the Greek divinity - mercurial messenger god and bridge between the divine and human realms. And ‘Amāra’ meaning ‘deathless’ or ‘The Deathless’ in Sanskrit and Pali, the ancient languages of the Buddha’s time. Together these resonant names evoke the full breadth and depth of Rob's teachings from emptiness to a Soulmaking Dharma.

HAF's First Incarnation

HAF was originally a co-creation with the participation of sangha members whose wishes were surveyed and distilled into ten ‘shared values and principles’. These became the basis for the nascent organisation. HAF adopted a flat structure with four largely autonomous ‘circles’ whose members would carry out its work, now with four directors holding a holistic view and guiding HAF’s direction. HAF’s original vision and co-creative process were laid out graphically in a beautiful founding document. This formative period was fertile and exciting, with many projects initiated, and HAF remains grateful to everyone who participated at this time. Ultimately though, creating organisational culture with a large number of volunteers working solely online proved difficult, and HAF began the process of reorienting.

The Current Organisation

There was a growing recognition that HAF required a simpler form in order to focus on its primary role, which is custodial. Thus in April 2022 the circles were dissolved and HAF adopted a much leaner organisational model. Custodial projects have continued, carried out by some of the original circle members. Several annual HAF-organised gatherings are now well established, including memorial events for Rob during the week of his death. The HAF Annual Retreat began in 2022 and is now held in early December each year.

HAF Structure

The foundation runs as a not-for-profit limited company, legally accountable to Companies House, with a constitution and bank account. Unity Trust Bank is an ethical bank serving small organisations who work for positive change. Three of the original directors remain in role and another of Rob's close students joined the team in 2023. One of the directors takes a part-time salary and carries out the daily work of HAF. Decisions are made by the directors in collaboration with those who are involved with HAF projects, and where appropriate with the advice of the supporting teachers. This minimal structure will serve us well as HAF moves forward. Transition to charitable status with a Board of Trustees will take place when the time is right. In line with Rob's work, we view HAF as a thoroughly empty entity, fabricated, and as such malleable and with 'loose and elastic edges'. The world is changing fast and HAF will evolve responsive to conditions.

HAF Ethics

We believe that HAF has a role in the protection from harm of individuals, sanghas and the teachings related to HAF. HAF Sangha Protection and Ethical Care (SPEC) was established by a small group of practitioners who are fostering a supportive environment of ethical care and safety for all those involved with the Hermes Amara Foundation. SPEC will eventually be situated within a broader HAF Ethics Council. It will honour Rob’s commitment to an exploration and amplification of the field of ethics, and to ensure that HAF is aligned with an ethics of deep care and integrity wherever it engages.

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HAF and Diversity

The Hermes Amāra Foundation exists as custodian of Rob Burbea's teachings, and to support those practising with them. The sangha has been steadily growing since Rob's death, and with the website now in existence as a 'home' for his work, there will be many more people finding these teachings. While there are diverse individuals already in our community and in HAF, we acknowledge that there will be different forms of work needed to make HAF and the sangha feel truly open to all who wish to engage with Rob's teachings.

We aspire to be an anti-racist organization and sangha - in online, geophysical and imaginal locations co-created by, rather than simply 'welcoming in', a diversity of practitioners. As HAF continues to evolve, we commit to engaging with this complex terrain, and to a sensitive exploration of Rob's Dharma in relation to diversity. The emptiness and soulmaking teachings particularly have profoundly loving and compassionate, if not always obvious, implications.

Sangha diversity contacts

Roxy Patruznick identifies as mixed race POC (person of colour) and Ali D'Marco identifies as non binary transmasculine, both are available to be contacted.

You can email us at:

HAF Custodial Projects

Dharma Teachings

Rob Burbea's Dharma legacy is largely formed of audio recordings of his numerous Dharma talks. Until now these have only been officially available on Dharma Seed, a website that freely offers western Insight Meditation teachings. Before 2015 the majority of Rob's talks were given on retreat at Gaia House, with others recorded on day retreats around the UK or occasionally on retreats abroad. After Rob left Gaia House he recorded many series of Soulmaking Dharma talks at home in addition to the Soulmaking retreats he was able to teach in person. On this website there are also a handful of podcasts and interviews, and a series of online video seminars. It is fitting that Rob's complete teachings now have a permanent home on the talks page of the HAF website. Recordings and transcripts appear together on each page for ease of accessibility.

Transcription Project

In 2016, students began transcribing select Dharma talks at Rob's request, with a view to later editing these talks into publishable book form. The project expanded from this original remit in order to improve accessibility to Rob's talks, make it easier to review practice instructions, and allow for searches of the entire body of work. By 2022 transcripts of every talk, seminar, podcast and interview had been completed, checked and standardized. These are published online in an Airtable and are included here on the HAF website alongside each audio talk, video and podcast.

Book Publishing

Rob wanted his talks to be published in book form, and left detailed suggestions for many possible titles and themes. Books were to be comprised of individual talks or series of talks edited into readable, clear and beautiful prose. This is a complex and in depth project which HAF views over the long arc of time. We sense, soulfully, into a duty here to future generations, and vow to take the time needed to honour Rob's dharma legacy by producing, eventually, a large collection of really high quality books.

Seeing That Frees Translations

Since its publication in 2014 there has been interest in translating Seeing That Frees, Rob's seminal book on emptiness, into other languages. To date there is a successfully published Hebrew translation, a Finnish translation is underway (part-funded with a HAF grant), and a completed Portuguese translation in Brazil is currently in the editorial phase.

HAF Team

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headshot of woman in stripey hat on a beach

Nic Oestreicher

Nic met Rob in early 2013 and was involved with the publication of Seeing That Frees. She sat several personal retreats at Gaia House practising soulmaking under Rob's guidance, and soon after he was diagnosed with cancer embarked on a year long retreat. She later worked as a Gaia House coordinator while supporting Rob in various ways. She was part of the small team caring for him at home in the months leading up to his death. Nic lives on Dartmoor in Devon.

headshot of man in front of a thangka

Keval Shah

Keval first had personal contact with Rob in 2014, and quickly became interested in Rob's imaginal work - attending retreats and receiving guidance from Rob in the subsequent years. Keval has practised since his late teens in various Tibetan and Theravada contexts, and is also a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. With some experience of the charity sector, finance and trusteeship of Buddhist organisations, Keval was asked by Rob if he wanted to help with the setting up of HAF. Keval lives in London.

headshot of smiling woman in a green jumper

Iona Steen

Iona first met Rob Burbea when she was nineteen and spent a year on retreat at Gaia House practising emptiness under his guidance. She was always interested in how the radicality of Rob's teaching might translate into how we create and discover the structures in our world, which inspired her to get involved with HAF. Iona lives in Brighton with her son Arun.

Mark Ovland

Mark met Rob in 2010 and quickly became a close student. He was formally invited to teach by Rob in 2015, but took an extended break to focus on environmental activism and did not complete his training before Rob died (he is currently re-training under Zohar Lavie's mentorship). Mark feels blessed to have acted also as a personal assistant to Rob, overseeing the publication of Seeing That Frees and later supporting him full-time in the years after his cancer diagnosis. He lives in Bristol in his very old and equally beloved van.

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