The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: April 2022
|Image: Andrew Brown
It seems in these times that amost everyone is in some way or another in a dismal struggle to be happy. If we can remove the idea of the “struggle”, we realise that we are naturally inclined to seek happiness. It comes to us freely and is inexhaustible. It underpins our drive to survive.
Pema Chodron teaches that “happiness is your birthright - and is readily available at any given moment.”
So why do we experience so much unhappiness?
In Buddhism the fundamental message in the Four Noble Truths is that feeling unsettled and always craving for more of the things that we imagine will make us happy are the reasons for our unhappiness. This doesn’t mean to say that all Buddhists are mired in a state of unhappiness - on the contrary, they are in tune with the reality that we need to embrace the whole of life - the light and the dark, the difficult and the sweet.
We really have no other choice.
The following piece by Bianca Sparacino, - shared by Jeff Mathee - expresses beautifully that the state of unhappiness - like happiness - is intrinsic to being human.
|Image: Andrew Brown
“I think we’ve been taught from such a young age that happiness is meant to be this big, all-consuming thing. That it is this moment that cracks open our bones, changes our lives and sweeps all of the weight inside of us away. That it is something that is awarded to us, gifted to us by the world. That it is something we are all constantly in pursuit of until we find it.
And so we are always waiting.
Waiting for this experience, this simplifying in life, this ‘aha’ moment where the wounds are all healed, and the growth is all organised neatly within our ribcages, and our hearts aren’t afraid of loving anymore, and the warmth never leaves.
But I don’t think happiness is big or infinite at all.
I think real happiness, true happiness exists in acceptance of the fact that we will always be balancing what is light and dark within ourselves. I think real happiness, true happiness exists in the quiet, in the smallest things. In the morning cup of coffee, in the sound of your parents’ voice on the other end of the phone. I think real happiness, true happiness is believing that you are meant to be here, that you are meant to take up space in this world. I think real and true happiness is finding the human beings who take care of you – not in a materialistic way, but rather finding the human beings who take care of your soul, who take care of even the most chaotic parts of you. I think real happiness, true happiness is all around you at all times, pinned and blooming in things you stopped paying attention to because you were always searching for more. Flowers when you take a stroll on the road, the intensity in the air when you meet someone, and you know they’re going to change your life, your pet cuddling with you after a tiring day, and the way its eyelashes feel as they blink across your neck when you’re holding it. The way your stomach flips when you hear your favourite song.
|Image: Chantelle Flores
And I don’t think happiness is something you find, or that it is this destination you get to where the night never comes, and you are bulletproof and unaffected by the mayhem. I think the mayhem will always, always exist – we are literally made from it; we wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the crashing and banging of atoms within this universe.
No, I think happiness exists in the understanding that the pain holds just as much importance as the beauty.
I think happiness exists in finding the things that make us feel known and special and at peace in this world, no matter how small or insignificant they feel and letting them save us. I think happiness exists in learning how to embrace the dark, in learning how to see it as the very thing that makes us appreciate the light!”
Now And Zen: Reboot, Recharge And Retreat
There is no better place than the BRC to rejuvenate the body and mind with nature, meditation and movement to guide you into presence and stillness.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
|Light and shade
|Image: Fanela Dube
There are still a few spaces left on the following March retreats:
Albert Osel (Buhr) | 3 days | 18-21 March
Katherine Fillmore | Weekend | 25-27 March
Katherine Fillmore and Jade Morey | 4 days | 27-31 March
Reiki Level 2
Reiki Level 3
|Joy in small things
|Image: Angela Shaw
Conducted Retreats April 2022
Elizabeth Gaywood and Di Franklin | Weekend | 1-3 April
Di Franklin | 5 days | 3-8 April
Heike Sym | Weekend | 8-10 April
Sue Cooper | 4 or 7 days | 14-21 April
This is a fee-based retreat: Please contact Sue for her fee details: https://stillmindretreats.com/event/retreat-embracing-grief-and-gratitude-with-compassion/
The silent Easter long-weekend Open the Heart and Still the Mind Compassion Retreat is being offered either as a 4-night Easter retreat or as an extended 7 nights for those who want a longer and deeper retreat experience and will provide an opportunity to integrate the experiences of grief and gratitude that we all have been confronted with during this time of uncertainty. Drawing on the wisdom of Buddhist psychology and the inspiring teachings and practices of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of Compassion, who "Listens to the cries of the world at ease" we will strengthen our capacity to be with things as they are unfolding. After establishing a calm and grounded body, heart and mind, we will focus on the practice of loving-kindness (metta) meditation and the deepening of compassionate wisdom. These practices connect us with our authentic presence, strengthen our boundaries and provide us with a secure foundation of courage and trust. In a contained and nurturing atmosphere of contemplative (Noble) silence, we will learn how to transform the viciousness of the inner critic, so that we can end the habitual cycle of self-abandonment and fear. This retreat includes guided sitting and walking meditations, short individual sessions with Sue and daily sessions of qigong (chi kung) movement meditation to enhance the integration of body, heart and mind. There will be time for silent, mindful walks in nature when you can explore the beauty of the Centre. Additional optional yoga and possibly massages will be offered.
Tsunma Tsondru | Weekend | 22-24 April
Hannelize Robinson | Weekend | 29 April-2 May
People often yearn for an opportunity to recalibrate their lives and to spend some time in quiet reflection among like-minded people. The BRC provides such a refuge - where silence is a precious commodity. Treat yourself to a personal retreat where you can wake up to bird song, walk in the morning mist, rake the sand garden and enjoy the Sound Circle in the bamboo grove. Liz Witherspoon, meditation teacher and yoga instructor, will be in situ from 1 May to offer daily sessions of mindfulness and gentle yoga
| In the cool of the labyrinth
|Image: Angela Buckland
About the BRC
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system in KwaZulu-Natal, the Buddhist Retreat Centre looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills receding like waves in the blue distance. Here, for forty two years, people of all religions and none have come to experience peace and tranquillity. It is a gentle, sympathetic space where one can be still and get in touch with oneself and reflect on the things that crowd one's life.
The BRC was voted by CNN as one of the ten best meditation centres in the world.
CNN Travel awarded another feather in the BRC’s cap by voting it as one of the ten best spiritual centres in South Africa, recently.
The BRC was awarded Natural Heritage status in 1995 under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs and received a certificate to that effect signed by President Nelson Mandela for turning an eroded farm into the natural paradise it has become - thousands of indigenous trees were planted by retreatants under the supervision of Mervyn Croft - with 160 species of birds, including the Blue Swallow, otter, deer, antbear and indigenous forests. The Centre was also given the special status of “Custodian of the Blue Swallow” for its work in preserving the breeding areas of this endangered bird.
Recently, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife granted the BRC “Private Nature Reserve” for the conservation of the rare Blue Swallow and Mistbelt Grassland.
The BRC facilitated the founding of Woza Moya, the community-based NGO, located in Ufafa Valley, twenty-two years ago, on the estate. Their vision is for all people in the community to be healthy and.productive, to live in a safe and clean environment, with good access to services and social justice. The Centre continues to support the organisation by showcasing their crafts in the shop and sponsoring their trainers and consultants.
We have been very touched by your appreciative letters, emails and friendship towards the BRC - your spiritual home from home.
Thank you to all of you who continue to support our work in Ixopo with monthly and Paid Up Yogi contributions and donations, with gifts, or with skills and time. And, of course, everyone who comes to the Centre keeps us open and viable. We are deeply grateful for your generosity towards us; it encourages us to continue Louis’ beautiful vision and legacy for the future.
Please continue to support the BRC by becoming a friend of the Buddhist Retreat Centre (a registered non-profit organisation) and find out more about the BRC's Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ projects.
Visit our website for further information, directions, image gallery etc.
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