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Who would like to live and work at the Buddhist Retreat Centre?

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We often reach a cross-road in our life when we need a change of direction. The Buddhist Retreat Centre provides such an opportunity for visitors to do so. And occasionally, an opportunity arises when one can join our resident staff and live in a beautiful country environment.

Staff manage our administration, maintain our buildings and extensive gardens and oversee our vegetarian kitchen. The applicant must be mature and sociable, a non-smoker, able and willing to get along with people, enjoy living in the rural environment of the Ixopo hills and be sympathetic to Buddhist philosophy. Staff have the opportunity to meet an array of interesting people, participate in retreats and meditation courses conducted by a stellar panel of local and international teachers.

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Generosity and Gratitude

brcixopo stupa chantal flores B7B5418In one of his teachings, the Buddha enumerated the most noble sentiments we should endeavour to develop in our life. The first and foremost is Dana or Generosity because from that springs forth all other beautiful characteristics  such as kindness, forgiveness and virtue.  We should therefore be alert to situations that arouse these qualities in us and provide us with an opportunity to express them towards others. They then become habitual, effortless and spontaneous. Dictionaries offer a range of meanings for gratitude from thankfulness and a warm feeling towards a benefactor, to an acknowledgement of indebtedness. Such gratitude arises in us every time we receive gifts and donations from our supporters and visitors to the Centre. These feelings are rooted in the early traditions of all religions: that one is inclined to be grateful to religious institutions that offer a different, wider perspective on what is important in life - the meaningfulness of one's existence, along with the need to simply survive..

The Buddhist monastic order has now flourished for more than 2500 years on such goodwill and the generosity of the lay people with whom they had a mutually beneficial relationship. In the modern world, this same spirit of goodwill has been directed towards retreat centres such as the BRC.  Indeed, we have  been moved by the gifts and donations that have flowed to the Centre this past year. We therefore take this opportunity to express our thanks to all those friends who regard the BRC as their spiritual home and want to ensure its longevity. Your generosity generated R18,000.00 in Dana to Woza Moya, the welfare organisation which the BRC supports, and which, in turn, supports the community of Chibini. Your Dana to our teachers allows them to keep the Dharma wheels turning at the Centre and allows the BRC to offer the wide range of retreats from silent meditation and mindfulness retreats to yoga, art and chi kung and much more.

With the Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ contributions, we were able to upgrade the ladies’ bathroom in the Lodge, install a tea station in its foyer for those hot cups of milo on chilly nights, and tile the stoep. We also renewed the canvas to the parasol of the terrace umbrella. Pam Evans very generously sponsored the beautiful granite server in the kitchen, and topped that with a lovely new coffee plunger, soft new pillows and towels, while Anne-Marie Nel donated stylish new cotton duvet covers. Chris Dalzell arrived with a truck-load of indigenous trees for the new forest being cultivated above the vegetable garden and Alex de la Rouviere donated a beautiful Sikkhim silk scarf to Louis to wear during the Chinese Tea Ceremony. The new high-back oak chairs in the Zendo were donated by Patricia Usher and Peter Kloppers. Rosemary Turner installed a beautiful bench in the gardens in memory of the late Bill Chalmers.

Additional PUY contributions and donations made by Nikki Milich, Ileana Dimitriu, Brendon Small, Brad Celliers, Rodger Walters, Jack Schmitter, Brett Lewis, Ingrid Adams, Bobby Forssman, Gustav Hasselskog and Mercia Sevnarin.These have enabled us to continue with pending projects such as reducing our Eskom bills by installing LED lights and refurbishing the men’s bathroom in the Lodge.

Our library continues to be updated by Ans van der Walt. We so appreciate her dedication, and share her delight when she receives new books, some of which have been donated by Tsunma Tsondru and Christine Currie. Our photo gallery has swelled with stunning pics from Andrew Brown, Lennart Erikson and Tsunma Tsondru. Grateful thanks to Beena and Brendon Hatcher of BrilliantWeb for their technical support, Rob Pooley for keeping our bees happy and Tokozani Nene for his wise counsel and friendship. Resounding thanks must go to our dedicated Committee members - Rene Stephenson, Pam Evans, Chris Dalzell, Rob Havemann, Alex De La Rourviere and Rosemary Turner - their commitment and focus made the Silent Auction the success that it was: R120,000.00 was raised from all our donors’ contributions.

Our dedicated BRC team - Lien Duvenage, Jenni Riddell, Colin Kemery, June Atkinson and our new chef, Rose Gelderblom - deserve a special mention. We salute and thank them for their commitment,  friendship and help in running the BRC so smoothly. Ray Vogel, in his inimitable way, made a wonderful contribution during his two month return to the Centre. Credit too must go to our talented cooks, Lindiwe Ngobo, Dudu Memela, and Lungi Mbona;  to our maintenance expert, Mdu Makodi, and to Engakheni Mbanjwa who does such sterling job in overseeing our accommodation. Without them, our teachers our supporters, the Centre would not be the flourishing entity it is. 

Thank you all! 

Chrisi

How To Safeguard Our True Happiness

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The philosopher, Epicurus, was a refreshingly wise voice in third century Greece. Refreshing, because he steered away from ponderous philosophical debate - wise, because he placed our rumination about the meaning of life where it really matters: how to live as fulfilled and happy a life as possible before we die. That did not mean that you simply followed your desires and ignored the welfare of others. Because such hedonism, he said, inevitably leads to unhappiness - for others as well as yourself - because our own happiness is inevitably interdependent with that of others'. The Buddha stressed this sentiment three centuries before Epicurus. Jesus, too, had the same message three centuries after Epicurus: "Do unto others...", he said. So, when we sit on our black cushions in the Meditation Hall, we are in excellent company.

In rural Greece you will come across elderly men sitting on park benches in the dappled shade of trees, within a short stroll of the local taverna. They talk idly about their past - stories their companions have heard many times before. They shake their heads occasionally and think of other things - or nothing at all. The stories just waft away in the warm Mediterranean breeze. The talking only halts when a pretty woman passes by - and resumes when she is out of sight.

This is what Epicurus said about the joys of growing old and, hopefully, wise: (Note to the politically correct: please don't be offended by Epicurus' male gender reference...I am sure he meant his sentiments to apply equally well to females - 18 centuries later....)

It is not the young man

Who should be considered fortunate

But the old man who has lived well

Because the young man in his prime

Wanders by chance, vacillating in his beliefs

Whilst the old man has docked in the harbour

Having safeguarded his true happiness

Do we have to wait until we are old to sit on a park bench before we can indulge in such ruminations? How about sitting on a black cushion in the Zendo and finding out what the Buddha had to say about giving our mind some space, stillness and calmness, finding our safe harbour from which to sail forth into the rest of our life? Our forthcoming program offers an array of choices to do that.

 

Live kindly.

Louis

You are invited to our AGM

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The 38th Annual General Meeting of 
The Buddhist Institute of South Africa
Wednesday July 25 2018 @ 19h30
to be held at the home of Chrisi & Louis van Loon, 
24 Bemersyde Road, off Stephen Dlamini (Essenwood) Road Durban.
Please RSVP for catering: 0824668306

The Four Great Tasks: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age

stephen batchelorJoin Stephen Batchelor live as he presents an online course on Sunday 13 May 2018, 6pm.

This is Stephen’s unique and highly regarded and experienced take on the Four Noble Truths.

There are 4 modules that have been pre-recorded in studio quality and a live interactive session, that will run on the 13th May.

 

Modules include:
1 – Embracing Life and the Human Condition
2 – Letting Go of Reactivity
3 – Stop Grasping
4 – Act

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Gracious Praise and Reflections

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For over 20 years of my visits the retreat has cradled me, whichever mood I am in. The home baked bread and honey remain a comfort in a kitchen that brings my grandmother's memories to life. (At home I cook from the coffee table quality BRC cook books.) The coming together of Nature, Art, Science and Spirit at this place where Alan Paton's hills unfold, makes it a place where folks from all faiths, and none, are welcome. Spirit is spacious here.

Mari Pete: 07.10.2017

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Thanks for your support

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Many thanks to all our BRC friends for supporting our Silent Auction fund-raiser. 
A magnificent total of R101,000.00 was raised as a result of all your generous bidding. We cannot thank you enough! Additional thanks must go to our wonderful Committee members: Rene and Neil Stephenson, Pam Evans and Rosemary Turner and loyal friend Rob Havemann for all their hard work in making the auction happen. Grateful thanks too must go to all the donors who contributed the beautiful items so willingly for the auction and also the friends who made cash donations.

37th Annual General Meeting

003 42
The 37th Annual General Meeting 

of The Buddhist Institute of South Africa 
Wednesday 26 July, 2017 @ 19h30 
to be held at the home of Chrisi & Louis van Loon 
24 Bemersyde Road, off Stephen Dlamini (Essenwood) Road, Durban
RSVP for catering: 0824668306 or 031-2095995

Mossy Buddhas

mossy buddhaThe Buddha statue at the BRC has an interesting story. The idea of constructing it occurred to me when I travelled widely in the East during the 1950’s and 60’s where I came across the majestic ruined remains of the ancient Buddhist monastic cities, built centuries before the Christian era - such as you find in India, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka. They had been vandalised by hordes of antagonistic invaders who used the sculptures to vent their hatred of religions other than their own - much as Napolean’s soldiers did to the sphinxes guarding Egyptian pyramids when they used them as targets in rifle shooting practice. It happened again during the Crusades and the Reformation and, recently, when the Taliban went berserk in the Middle East.

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Gratitude

outside meditation hall buddhaIn one of his teachings, the Buddha enumerated what he considered to be the most noble sentiments we should endeavour to develop.  The first and foremost amongst them is Dana or Generosity: from that springs forth all other beautiful characteristics we are capable of, such as kindness, forgiveness and virtue.  We should therefore be alert to situations that arouse these qualities in us and provide us with an opportunity to express them towards others. They then become habitual; effortless; spontaneous. Dictionaries offer a range of meanings for this word - from thankfulness and a warm feeling towards a benefactor, to an acknowledgement of indebtedness.  Indeed, these emotions arise continuously in us every time we receive gifts and donations from our supporters and visitors to the Centre. These feelings are rooted in the early traditions of all religions: that one is inclined to be grateful to religious institutions that offer a different, wider perspective on what is important in life - the meaningfulness of one's existence along with the need to simply survive.

Read more ...
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