Sacred geometry

Seeing That Frees

Rob Burbea's seminal book on emptiness and dependent arising, published in 2014, is a profound and transformative contribution to the Buddhist tradition. It opens up for the committed meditator all the profundity of the Buddha's radical teachings on emptiness, and will serve as a lifelong companion on the path, leading progressively deeper into the territory of liberation.
cover of Seeing That Frees without words, abstract blue water shadows on brick

Writing the Book

Rob was encouraged over the years - by some of his students - to write a book based on the teachings he gave on his annual emptiness retreats at Gaia House. Rob eventually started to write in 2012, and it would take him two years to complete Seeing That Frees, working on the book alongside his full time resident teacher duties. It was a huge labour for Rob, partly because another avenue of practice was calling him and he wanted to move on. But Rob saw an opportunity here, and placed the struggle of writing into the crucible of his unfolding soulmaking explorations, deciding to meet the challenge with imaginal ways of looking rather than with emptiness practice. This proved powerful and fruitful for Rob. Once the book was published he devoted himself fully to developing the imaginal teachings that would eventually be called A Soulmaking Dharma.

Publication, Sales and Translations

After talking to a couple of publishers, Rob made the decision to self-publish so that he could maintain full editorial control over the content of Seeing That Frees, such is its complexity and precision. The book was published through Troubador Publishing in 2014 under the imprint Hermes Amāra Publications. This was a deeply meaningful moniker for Rob, combining the Greek trickster god with the Pali name for the 'Deathless', and he chose it also as the name of the foundation. Because all the emptiness retreats were already available on Dharma Seed as audio recordings, Rob wasn't convinced that the book would sell many copies. But by the beginning of 2023 the print book had sold 4,056 copies, the ebook 4,579, and the Hebrew translation around 1,500 copies. There are also several translations of Seeing That Frees underway so that those for whom English is not the first language can more easily access the work.

Rob's Edits and Reflections

In 2016 Rob made a small number of revisions and corrections to the original text of Seeing That Frees. These amendments were not considered a sizeable enough change to warrant a 'revised edition' of the book and so were simply incorporated into all new print copies, and into the ebook, from that point onwards. Rob did, however, consider these changes to be important, and wished to communicate them to anyone who had purchased a book from the original print run. For this purpose he wrote a six-page booklet entitled Edits and Reflections that was inserted into the front of existing copies (this link will automatically download a version formatted for screens to your device). The booklet was emailed out to anyone who asked for it, stapled into the Gaia House library copies, and posted on Rob's old website The 'Reflections' part of the booklet was however never incorporated into the printed book itself, and we are pleased to make these reflections available to you here. We feel that anyone working closely with the book will find Rob's deeply considered additional comments and suggestions to be an insightful and helpful resource. All reflections will be included in full in November 2024, when HAF will publish and launch a revised edition for the book's tenth anniversary.

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“Rob Burbea, in this remarkable book, proves to be a wonderfully skilled guide in exploring the understanding of emptiness as the key insight in transforming our lives… It is rare to find a book that explores so deeply the philosophical underpinnings of awakening at the same time as offering the practical means to realize it.”

- from the Foreword by Joseph Goldstein, author of The Experience of Insight

cover of 'Seeing that Frees', abstract blue water shadows on brick

Where to buy Seeing That Frees

Seeing That Frees is available from Troubador in the UK, or Amazon worldwide.

Download the extra insert with edits, reflections and suggestions written by Rob in 2016.

Troubador will ship worldwide, but this may involve substantial postage costs. An ethical and local-minded alternative to ordering direct from Troubador or Amazon, wherever you are in the world, is to order a copy from your local bookshop.

Sacred geometry