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The Buddhist Retreat Centre
|SANGHA SUPPORT: Letters from lockdown - 19 June 2020|
Dear BRC Friends,
Online Programme June and July
Having a community to tap into and feel connected to is a huge gift. Our online initiative comes as a result of your encouragement, our teachers’ generosity and with love and kindness. Please support our Online Programme below which is published on our website with all the links. Your donations are helping enormously to keep the Centre financially afloat while we are in lockdown limbo.
Thank you again to all those supporters and teachers who are helping to ensure the continuity of the BRC with your donations, PUY contributions, your monthly Sangha donations, for supporting our online programme, purchasing our books and booking for retreats ahead. Although we have not been able to celebrate our 40th anniversary, we can look forward to our 41st milestone - with your help.
With the President’s announcement this week about the easing of level 3 restrictions, we are hoping for a silver lining, and the green light to open. Once we have clarity - and we know many of you are champing at the bit to come to Ixopo - we will keep you posted.
Image: Andrew Brown
Your Precious Life
Samantha Sparkes and Klasie Wessels are offering a two-day online course this weekend (21-22 June) “Your Precious Life: Discovering Meaning And Purpose In Adversity - Logotherapy” based on the work of Viktor Frankl.
Diane Cole of the “Washington Post” recently reviewed Viktor Frankl’s book: “Yes To Life; In Spite Of Everything” so it seems appropriate to quote extracts of her excellent review:
‘How do we hang on to hope? It is also the question that Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist and author best known for his exploration of trauma and resilience, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, devoted the bulk of his career to answering.
Now, with the publication of "Yes To Life", originally written as a series of lectures in 1946, we have the opportunity to read what amounts to a brief , early draft of the concepts he presented in his later classic. But in whichever version you encounter them, Frankl’s ideas bear particular consideration now.
|Image: Andrew Brown|
Frankl stressed the importance of what he called the will to meaning. He believed that having a sense of meaning or purpose or a goal in life drives us forward from one day to the next, even when we confront personal suffering, family tragedy or public calamity. That is the inner compass that gives us direction. Frankl, who was Jewish, had begun to develop his ideas about the pivotal role meaning plays in our lives before the Nazi regime deported him and his family to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. But despite four years of being shuttled from one camp to another, suffering the ravages of typhus and starvation and the threat of being shot, beaten or gassed to death, Frankl endured. He held to the hope that he would see his family after the war. He also set his sights on completing his unfinished manuscript describing his theories.
With the second World War’s horrific death toll still being reckoned and the atomic bomb having been unleashed as a new existential threat, Frankl described the pubic mood as “spiritually bombed out”.
How could survivors return to life if they did not believe that their lives held value? In the approach to psychotherapy he developed, which he called Logotherapy, he proposed an antidote to such nihilism: taking hold of life’s meaning.’
I remember as a young boy how my family had to endure the horrors of German occupation in Holland, and the resolute defiance on the part of my parents not to become victims. The family unit gave them purpose and the will to survive.
I would strongly recommend the online course on Logotherapy for our present time. The teachers are providing reading material beforehand, so please register early.
Stay safe and protected,
|Image: Angela Buckland|
Shared Stories Unite Us
Your messages of support and kindness have deeply resonated with us:
The BRC has been my refuge, my inspiration and my teacher for almost 20 years. It is my big breath out at the end of the year and the deep breath in for the year coming . In your hills I have learnt humility, patience, stillness and how to grind and paint with Japanese ink! I have also feasted, rested, laughed and made wonderful friends. I can honestly say that all my years of coming to the BRC have prepared me to cope with the situation we are in now. Never has being in the moment been so apt when nothing is certain. - Briget
I have a deep love for the BRC since 1989. And in these moments of lockdown, the memories for the love experience in the hills with you can be tasted as I write.
I wish I could sit in the Meditation Hall. And be shocked into "No Mind" by the Hadedas screaming as they fly out for the day. - Shammy
In the serenity and sanctuary of the BRC…… Living in a small, conservative community as I do, where anyone who is at all “alternative” in any way, lives with constant judgement on the fringes of society. Being able to retreat to the compassionate, empathic space of the BRC, where one can just be, is like having a regular blood transfusion. I always return home with clarity of mind, at peace within and able to face whatever challenges come my way. We are so very fortunate to have this oasis of utter peace and wholesome goodness right on our doorstep. Blessings and my deepest, heartfelt thanks to every one of you who make the BRC the glorious space that it is. - Jenny
In these troubled times the reminiscence of the Centre is for me a source of calm amidst chaos. You can rest assured of my support because I consider the Centre as a jewel to be preserved. The BRC lives deep in my heart.
Some time ago my mother and I attended the Family Retreat for a few consecutive years. During our stay, I took some pictures on my old camera. As a kid, the BRC was my favourite place to visit during the holidays and up to today my heart still smiles every time I look through the photos and remember….
It’s as if nature’s most skilled watercolour artist created the grounds of the Buddhist Retreat Centre. It’s delicately painted with fluid shades of green, brown and gold. It is also serenely silent. Yet, this silence amplifies the rustles, crunches and plips and plops of nature. You can actually hear the fall of a leaf and the swoop of a bird overhead. It’s an energy that manifests as goose-bumps. As we walked barefoot through the stony labyrinth and spent time mindfully leaning against an ancient tree, our bond with nature intensified. We understood even then that nature needed some time out. She’s so flawlessly beautiful when she’s allowed to ‘just be’. 2020 is her time, and she’ll reward us ten times over when we give her the respect she so deserves. She’s enlightened the world. I just hope we continue to listen. - Keryn
Whenever I arrive at the BRC, having driven through the rolling hills of ‘cry the beloved country’, a marvellous peace, deep and pervasive, descends like a blanket. Perhaps driving into the retreat space evokes memories, associations, feelings and a state of being that brings to mind and body what previous visits were like?
For me these have included a feeding and healing of the interconnected, ‘whole person’:
Physical Walking Meditation where we “kiss the earth with our feet” (Thich Nhat Hanh), the sensory triggers of lush greenery, blue-bummed monkeys, Qigong, sleep that counts
Intellectual awakenings such as sitting at Louis van Loon’s feet to learn about a decision-making framework and acceptance, within spectrums of predictability and control
Emotional touchpoints - Lovingkindness Meditation, discovering a shadow challenge in self
Social happenings such as the joy of sharing meals that are always special, feeling at one with a Zulu village in the valley below – distant and very close
Spiritual: noble silence, knowing wonder, beauty, connection
Life has happened here! There have been times of sadness, panic (when a night adder was discovered under a bed in our chalet), anxiety (falling ill in 2005 and going home to a diagnosis of colon cancer) belly laughter. (On our first visit together Lynette and I took a wrong turn on our way to our mountain kuti and came across the stupa. Ignorantly mistaking the stupa for our kuti we circled it a number of times looking for the door!).
The BRC is always changing and always the same. Always new (what the Danish and Norwegians refer to as) hygge moments - simple, ecstatic, sanctuary-cozy moments.
I recall the deep-dive yet calm and companionable workshops I’ve been privileged to conduct over the years, the care and attention of BRC staff, and the learnings and love that came from participants …. including storytelling and listening, experiencing life through the eyes of da Vinci, gazing at sacred images including religious icons, building bounce-back-ability for coping and growth, a life audit and design for living, the human dynamics of sustaining and regenerating our planet …. And I’ve always received far more than I’ve given. - Graham
Deepest and sincerest gratitude for the blessing of being able to absorb the blissful, nourishing and enlightning energy of the Buddha in the beautiful BRC. Etienne and I have both left with the majestic energy which we now incorporate on our journey as evolving souls.
Your staff are rare gems who are dedicated to upholding and nurturing all that the BRC is made to be! May the BRC flourish under the energy of the Buddha. - Kylie
|Image: Sean Laurenz|
Psychoneuroimmunology With Dr Ian Weinberg - In Your Home
Ian Weinberg, a neurosurgeon and pioneer in PNI, has led his renowned retreat “A neurosurgeon probes wellness and performance: Psychoneuroimmunology: PNI” for 12 years, twice a year, at the BRC. His retreats are hugely popular and always fully subscribed to.
In these uncomfortable times in which we are challenged at every level of our being - physical, psychological and emotional - Ian’s expertise and insights will provide one with practical tools to explore optimal, integrated wellness, and to understand how our thoughts inform our immune system - and how by reframing the way we react to the world around us, we can completely alter our health and quality of life.
Ian is offering to assist the BRC to raise funds to ensure its continuity. He has uploaded his full, comprehensive, PNI weekend retreat onto his website in 5 edited modules: See www.neuronostic.com under COURSES – ONLINE MENTORING COURSES. The programme includes slides in PDF format, an online diagnostic and workbook.
If you would like to support this fund-raising venture, please consider purchasing his online programme through the BRC at a significantly discounted price (R1,500) relative to the online listed price (R5,500). Proceeds will go to the BRC.
To register, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on registration and payment.
|Image: Chantelle Flores|
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