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Detailed List of Retreats

The Wilderness Within: The subtle activism of engaged Buddhists

Teacher: Tsunma Tsondru
Cost: 2 day's accommodation + R350 surcharge
Dates: Friday 20 March 2020 - Sunday 22 March 2020

tsunma tsondruAs we travel deeper into the 21st century we experience more and more acutely - if we are awake and aware - the unravelling of the interconnected cycles and systems which make up this miracle of life on this Earth which is our only home. Increasingly, we humans don't seem to care for anything other than ourselves. The chasm that is separating human beings from the natural world and from one another is widening, with society encouraging ever more alienation. Even the very words for wild and natural things - flowers and creatures and landscapes - are being erased from the great dictionaries, to be replaced by technology-speak. And yet the words we choose become the world we live in - so we are diligently engaged in making an un-natural and hyper-me world. It is our connection, our relationship, with something that moves us to take care of it. So the key to our future lies in re-connecting ourselves to the Earth, to one another, to our true nature. We cannot survive independently from the Earth and her natural cycles and systems. No matter which strand we try to isolate, we will always find it hitched to a myriad others. Indeed, we are made of the elements. We are made of the same stuff as the stars. We and they have come from the same singularity. Yet a long time ago, before physicists had ever even theorized about the Big Bang, Dogen, the great Zen master, already knew.  I came to realize that the mind is nothing but the sun and the moon and countless stars. Can we also come to this knowing, like Dogen? How can we come to know that the sun and moon and stars are within, that the wilderness is within, that we are the whole of it? The Buddha showed us how when he awoke to the Truth while sitting under the Bodhi tree. He had found through his practice of meditation that we are the sun and the moon and the stars, that the wilderness is within, and is home. He had seen the great interdependence of all things. Taking advantage of the wilderness around the BRC, we will explore the meeting place of the outer and inner worlds to uncover our connection with ourselves, all beings, the sun and moon and the stars. The retreat will combine meditation practice with silent contemplative walking in the wilderness, as well as some of the spiral practices from Joanna Macy's Work That Reconnects.

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Tsunma Tsondru is a nun ordained by Tai Situ Rinpoche in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. She came across Buddhism through Louis van Loon at the BRC. After working as a molecular biologist, lawyer and environmental scientist, she left for Spain for a traditional Kagyu three-and-a-half-year retreat, followed by a second retreat of four years. Since returning to Cape Town, she has served on the Board of the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute, a multi-faith NGO, and as its Executive Director. Earth. In order to learn the Work That Reconnects, she travelled to San Francisco for a 10-day intensive retreat with Joanna Macy, engaging with Macy’s Work That Connects. Tsondru offers this work, blending it with teachings on Engaged Buddhism, and traditional meditation practice. Her particular interest is eco philosophy and the role that spirituality and ethics play in transforming our economic and social systems in protection of the Earth. Click here to see the blog interview in 2 parts done by Penny Urquhart.