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The Buddhist Retreat Centre
|SANGHA SUPPORT : Letters from lockdown - 5 May 2020|
|Dear Friends and Supporters
Finding Your Path
Victor Frankl experienced the horrors of the Concentration Camps in the Second World War. He survived and wrote his brilliant book “ Man’s Search For Meaning”, based on the suffering he and others had endured.
Unlike Frankl, the Buddha lived a life of luxury, wealth and security, which he abandoned in order to plumb the depths of suffering. For it is only in the absence of comfort, health and security that one can truly understand the meaning of suffering.
Image: Lisa de Venter
Under such challenging circumstances, it takes a special attitude to leave your comfort zone and deal with what life throws at you - virus and all. We tend to fall into the trap of feeling that life owes us - fulfilment, health, wealth and security or various degrees of it.
So, when we now find ourselves in these uncomfortable times, it requires us to pause, focus and reflect on whether there is a meaning in these experiences.
In Frankl’s search for meaning in adversity, he identified three ways of discovering a deeper purpose. Firstly, by making a difference in the world through our actions, work or creativity; secondly, by experiencing something such as truth, beauty and love, and thirdly, by adopting a courageous and exemplary attitude in situations of unavoidable suffering.
Similarly, the Buddha in his search for meaning advocated Four Ways of reaching meaning in adversity: The First Noble Truth pinpoints a portal we have to pass through in order to come face to face with the reality that, inevitably in life, we will encounter various forms of suffering. The Second Noble Truth is that there is a Cause to Suffering - where our minds are saturated with all kinds of desires and wilfulness. The Third Noble Truth is that we have the capacity to stop this syndrome, and the Fourth Noble Truth is the discipline we can use to end suffering and its causes.
|Image: Steve McCurruch|
This insight struck me as being vitally important, motivating me to establish the BRC and enable others to discover their personal path. Such a path is even more urgent to discover now.
April was meant to be a celebration of our 40th year, but instead we found ourselves in limbo. As we know, everything changes, and we are looking forward to the day we will again be able to safely retreat together, meeting each other, warm hand to warm hand. We are holding a steady course at the BRC thanks to your generous support, heart-warming gestures of goodwill and encouraging messages.
The 9th May was meant to be a celebration of Wesak: Full moon of May, co-inciding with the BRC’s 40th birthday, but instead we find ourselves in limbo. As we know, everything changes, and we are looking forward to the day we will again be able to safely retreat together, meeting each other, warm hand to warm hand. We are holding a steady course at the BRC thanks to your generous support, heart-warming gestures of goodwill and encouraging messages.
Elizabeth Gaywood has kindly offered to establish an online practice based on her BRC retreat, ‘Meditation for Beginners’. Participants will be encouraged to commit to a daily practice, with a ‘group’ practice, of say, 3 times a week. If you are interested or would like further information, please contact Elizabeth direct on:
Keep up your meditation, be kind and practice compassion at every opportunity.
|Image: Tsunma Tsondru|
Today Is Another Day To Do Better
- From Woza Moya's latest newsletter
April was supposed to be our 20-Year Birthday Celebratory Month. On Freedom Day 27th April we had a community birthday bash planned inviting local artists, musicians, poets, dancers and choirs to perform, with old friends, "Sun Xa fb.com" as our special guests. Instead we find ourselves in emergency relief mode, delivering hundreds of food parcels and hygiene packs to households in desperate need.
The global Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in South Africa, although necessary, has left our community here in rural KwaZulu-Natal, more vulnerable than ever before. Families, children and elderly are in dire need of basic food supplies. The situation is becoming more critical as each day passes.
Thank you to everyone who has responded and supported our community thus far, including local farmers, MAMAS Alliance, ELMA Foundation, MACAIDS, HCI Foundation, BRC and private donors. Woza Moya has featured widely on South African news channels in this past week, including eNews, ETV, News24.
Ufafa has no municipal water or sanitation, making it difficult for people to practice good hygiene. Some
|Image: Andrew Brown|
Woza Moya obtained an Essential Services Permit for all of our 33 employees soon after lockdown. Nurses from Ixopo clinic partnered with our Community Health workers, going door to door, screening people for symptoms of Covid-19. Our two seamstresses are sewing masks to protect our team who are working on the frontline. We have been distributing bags of compost and seedlings across the Ufafa Valley, and will continue to do so. Our Youth team are packing and delivering food parcels; this is hard physical labour best suited to our younger staff! Office and admin staff are supervising and coordinating logistics, and communicating with the outside world. Our 2 paralegals are responding to an increase of gender-based-violence in homes. They are also assisting unemployed people to apply for social relief. Children are most vulnerable at times like this. All the children attending our crèche, who were used to receiving porridge in the morning and a cooked warm meal for lunch every day, have received food parcels. Likewise the 48 girls aged 9-16, attending the PowerGirls programme, all from very vulnerable homes, have been given food parcels, thanks to MamasAlliance. Our CCGs, PowerMamas and Early Childhood Development team will continue to keep a close eye on all the Children, as this crisis deepens.
Ufafa Valley is a vast region covering a 20km radius, consisting of 10 villages with a population of about 23,000. We need your continued support to help us to help our community survive.
Please continue supporting Woza Moya during these difficult times. Donating has never been easier with PayPal, EFT and Zapper. Any and every donation makes a difference. If you would like to help, call 039 834 0023 / 072 193 3945.
|Image: Andrew Brown|
Samantha Sparkes and Klasie Wessels have been teaching Logotherapy at the BRC for a number of years. Here is their message of “Sangha Support”.
Life Is Asking Us To Be Brave
We are in the middle of one of the greatest global crises of our times, and we have little knowledge and experience to fall back upon. Yet, for humanity this is not new. In 165 AD the Antonine Plague wiped out almost a third of the world’s population. In 1918 the Spanish flu killed 50 million people. Ten years later, the Great Depression of 1929 caused even more suffering. The world then didn’t know how to deal with it; the world today still doesn’t know how to deal with it. History has a tendency to repeat itself .
During times of crisis, some people perish, some stay stagnant in survival mode, whilst others are able to move forward and grow. Viktor Frankl and his existential philosophy – Logotherapy - can teach us a lot about discovering meaning during times of, even intense, hardship. In essence it teaches us how to recalibrate and re-orientate ourselves in a changing world. Viktor Frankl taught that life is constantly asking us questions, and challenging us to confront the realities of the day with wisdom and courage. What is life asking of us during this time of Covid-19?
|Image: Andrew Brown|
We suggest some Logotherapy-inspired questions for contemplation:
We are looking forward to being able to teach mindfulness and meaning in our Logotherapy retreat, lock-down and Covid-19 permitting from 19-21 June 2020.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact Klasie for more information, a reading list, or personal coaching at .
Samantha and Klasie
|Image: Angela Buckland|
Tapping Into Your Buddha Nature To Manifest Your Goals And Desires
(Voluntary presentation in aid of the BRC)
Teacher: Tronél Hellberg
“One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art in conducting oneself in lower regions by memory of what one has seen higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” ~ René Daumal
We are powerful beings! We know this… and we don’t... We know it when life is calm and effortless, but when we are in the midst of a dark storm like the one right now, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the raising level of uncertainty – losing sight of possibilities and hope. It is in times like these that we need to remember who we are and access our unlimited Source of power, inspiration and creation – our Buddha nature! Now, more than ever, it is important to know where we are heading and how to tap into realities beyond the physical eye!
About the teacher
Tronél is a Master Transformation Life Coach, author and speaker. She specialises in empowering people through inner transformation with mindfulness as cornerstone. Tronél is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. She guides them towards discovering their purpose and inner power by asking staggering questions, making powerful realisations, and letting go of non-serving emotion and beliefs. More than this, it is about fulfilling her higher calling: raising global consciousness. Since the start of lockdown, Tronél started presenting live Facebook talks and meditations on Coach me to Grow’s Facebook page to assist people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More Teachers' Offerings
Anna and Jonathan, Vipassana meditation teachers based in Prague, will be offering the following for BRC students:
Teaching support for daily meditation.
Vipassana home retreat.
Meditation talks on Zoom.
7 May The Benefits of Insight Meditation: What’s in it for me. 7:30-8:30 pm
9 May Introduction and Basic Instructions for Vipassana Meditation. 11:00-12:00 am
|Image: Andrew Brown|
And On A Light Note: Very Zen
- Dorian Haarhof
One day an earthquake shook the Zen temple. Parts of it collapsed. The monks were terrified.
When the tremor stopped the teacher said, " We have all survived without any injuries. Now you can see how a Zen monk behaves in a crisis. You may have noticed that I did not panic. I was aware of what was happening. I led you all to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple. Despite my self-control and composure, I did feel a little bit tense, so you saw me drinking a glass of water."
One of the monks smiled, but didn't say anything.
"What are you laughing at?" asked the teacher.
"That wasn't water," the monk replied, "you drank a glass of soy sauce."
|Image: Sean Laurenz|
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