In 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.
The Buddhist monastic order has now flourished for 2500 years on such goodwill and 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 once again been moved by the abundance of gifts and donations that have flowed to the Centre these past months and 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. This goodwill takes many forms, sometimes very imaginative!
Rob Haveman has enabled us to transform two Lodge rooms into a stylish, sunny, private en-suite unit. It is on a par with the lovely terraced en-suite room 20 that has been so much in demand by retreatants looking for some additional private comforts, particularly during some of the longer and more intensive retreats.
John and Chris Gabriel donated a stunning collection of coffee table books on Buddhist art and beautifully traditional clothing items and ritual objects crafted by Tibetan refugee communities living in the North of India. Tizzie le Roux donated beautiful furniture, curtains, cushions, ceramics and artifacts that have so enhanced our rooms, the studio and library - as have the gorgeous thankas, khelims and Buddhist artefacts from Danna Flack, Rosemary Turner, Patricia Usher and Peter Kloppers. Chris Dalzell, Gavin de Kock, William Collingwood, Gina Brown, Carol Bekker, Gail Good, Maya Ramnath, Graham and Pia Day arrived at the Centre, laden with indigenous trees, plants, vegetable seedlings and herbs. These are now happily growing in our gardens.
Additional PUY contributions and donations were made by Nikki Milich, Nick and Rebecca, Ileana Dimitriu, Neale Roberts, Ingrid Adams, Brendon Small, Kerry Jessop, Kryenia, Valerie Hindson, Bridget Grosskop, Brad Celliers and Brett Lewis which have enabled us to continue with future projects and refurbishments. Ban Farrell initiated the room sprays by providing the essential oils, bottles and the recipe!
Our library continues to be updated by Ans van der Walt. We so appreciate her dedication, and delight when she receives new books, so many of which have been donated recently by Charles Chang, the late Merwerde van der Merwe and Anthea Torr.
Our photo gallery has swelled with stunning pics from Catherine Fillmore, Craig Meltzer, Hugh Bland, Chantelle Flores and Ani Tsondru.
Grateful thanks to Alan Hofland for his help and advice when we had plumbing crises, and to Beena and Brendon Hatcher of BrilliantWeb for their technical support.
Lien Duvenage, Ray Vogel, Jenni Riddell, Colin Kemery and June Atkinson need a special mention and huge thanks for their dedication, professionalism and friendship and help in managing the BRC. Sadly, Ticia Davies has left us to return to mainstream life, and we wish her well in her future endeavours. Without them, our sterling teachers and all our supporters, the retreat centre would not be such a flourishing entity.
Thank you all!