What do a leaking roof, an African boma and the Buddha have in common?

The roof over the Lodge at the BRC was built 40 years ago from sheeting Louis bought at an auction sale of materials that had been salvaged from a 40-year old railway shed in Durban harbour after it was demolished. It cost next to nothing, but was of poor quality. Although it has now served us for another 40 years, it has finally given up the ghost.   Whenever there is a downpour, leaks spring up and rooms have to be vacated. It did not help when during a storm, hail stones punched about 200 holes in the sheeting.

To replace such a large roof costs money: approximately R. 120 000… What to do? As everybody knows, the BRC – in keeping with ancient Buddhist tradition – does not save for a rainy day to meet such expenses as this would increase our rates. We therefore need to think of other ways of finding this amount of money. That is why we hope we can count again on our Sangha Friends.

Louis had been thinking for a while about establishing a Buddhaboma - a circular meditation garden next to the labyrinth in which eight trees associated with the principal events in the Buddha’s life and teachings are planted. It will be a sacred Buddhist space, a refuge in the middle of an African indigenous forest. There will be a thatched meditation pavilion in the centre where one can sit and meditate, surrounded by the trees. One can circumambulate the trees and reflect on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha – the trees being the unifying theme tracing the Buddha’s birth, his first samadhi experience under a Rose Apple tree, his enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, the various trees associated with his teachings and monasteries and concluding with his death (paranirvana) between two Sal trees. This will be the first such Buddhaboma in history. Chris Dalzell, who is busy establishing Botanic Gardens in Singapore and elsewhere in the East, has sourced all the trees. They are expected to arrive in South Africa soon.  



Here is our suggestion: help us to put a new roof over our heads by sponsoring a tree (R.10,000) a branch (R. 2,500) or a leaf (any amount) of the Buddhaboma. Your tree will outlive you many lifetimes over - to the enjoyment of countless numbers of people.

Good karma…

The Cake the Buddha Ate


Although we had expected our new recipe book to be successful, we could never have foreseen the impact it has made.  The publishers, Jacana Media, were running out of copies and had to hurriedly order a reprint - barely a month after the books’ arrival in the country. Exclusive Books displayed it prominently on their Home Brew selections throughout the country and are running a lucky draw for their Fanatics Club offering an all-expenses paid retreat featuring Daniel Jardim’s cooking at the BRC.

The Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban launches attracted a crowd of 600 people, all eagerly buying the book, sometimes 4 or 5 at a time.

 Of course, The Cake is more than just another recipe book. This one is different in that it features the fine vegetarian food that has been served at the BRC for more than 30 years, honed to perfection by a succession of talented cooks, amongst them Daniel Jardim who worked there as our chef for two years.

 Because you cannot divorce the food from the place where it is eaten, the book features beautiful photographs taken of the BRC, poetry and haiku, stories and anecdotes inspired by the Centre.

 The book is also for sale at our BRC shop.

Sangha Project News - June 2011

Gary van Wyk donated and planted 30 indigenous trees in commemoration of the BRC’s 30 year existence. Isolde Mellet gifted 200 magnificent trees! These will be used to extend our indigenous gardens close the main buildings at the Centre, including the soon to be established Buddha Tree GardenKushy Ramjathan, collected vegetables and groceries donated by her friends, and prepares breyani and dessert whenever she visits. The CD Dawn that is played during Richard’s Chi Kung demonstrations has become so popular that Peter Kloppers has willingly supplied more copies for the shop.

We should not forget that apart from these donors, our visiting teachers make a profound contribution. They don’t receive any fees; only whatever Dana is collected for them. The BRC administrative staff only receive their board and lodging and a small stipend for their service to the Centre.

Thank you all!


The Buddha’s Nose on a Platter

buddha_noseAlthough I have been involved in various forms of art since an early age, I had never undertaken any sculpting before I agreed to build this Buddha statue. True, I had intended to do so – one day…

When a visiting monk, Ajahn Anando, heard this he challenged me to do so – now. He said he would mix the mortar for me. Indeed, he helped in the early stages of its construction, welding together the armature around which the concrete and plaster were going to be modelled. Anando was a delight to work with but he left shortly afterwards, back to Chithurst Forest Monastery in England of which he was the Abbot.

I felt somewhat intimidated by the prospect of sculpting such a huge statue. So I asked Peter Schütz, a good friend of mine and an internationally renowned sculptor, to help me model it – well, at least the face. But he only offered to do the nose for me. Why only the nose, I never found out. You could never be sure you could take Peter seriously.

He was a busy man, lecturing at university and forever preparing pieces for exhibitions of his work. So I was left on my own. I had to complete the five meter high statue myself, including the face. And that nose.

Years later, the Buddha statue completed, Peter had a run of exhibitions in which he explored the many-layered interfaces between baroque saints and the symbolism of the “dumb waiter”. One day he turned up at my house, with his customary bottle of red wine in one hand and a parcel, wrapped in brown paper, in the other. He gave it to me with a shy smile.

It was a dumb waiter, offering the Buddha’s nose on a platter…