The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: August/September/October 2020
Sitting in stillness
|Image: Fanele Dube
It was too wonderful to gather with Antony and Margie Osler and 70 others for three mornings of ZoomZen and Zazen earlier this month.
Our hearts were bursting with joy to see friends and familiar faces again, to feel connected in a heartfelt way and to receive teachings delivered by Antony in his inimitable Zen-worthy way. His teachings were profound and earthed like the Karoo soil, expansive like the Karoo sky and grounded like a koppie. How good it was to do ‘veld practice’ with him - just sitting - as he says: “This is just this. Zazen is the truest and most venerable teacher.”
There were fond reminisces of our time together at the inception of the BRC when we both wielded hammers and chainsaws to ready the centre for its opening forty years ago.
|Lama Anagarika Govinda, Li Gotami and Louis van Loon selecting the site of the future stupa (1974)
Antony reminded us of the time when he had been awarded a bursary to the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and I had asked him to visit a venerable teacher and mentor of mine, Lama Anagarika Govinda, a great intellect and spectacular explorer of the Buddhist traditions, and author of the famed “The Way Of The White Clouds”.
He recalled affectionately his visit to Lama Govinda as one of the most significant moments in his life - on meeting a man who he felt truly embodied his practice, and truly embodied Buddhism. His warmth and affection, his unpretentiousness, humility and genuineness impacted him deeply then.
I have equally affectionate memories of Lama Govinder’s “Buddhahood”. He chose and blessed the site where the Stupa is built today. I had invited him to visit South Africa and introduced him to my university students which created quite a stir amongst my colleagues in the other academic departments. He won them over with his brilliant intellect. But what really caught their attention was his humility and groundedness in simple things.
What does this say about the practice we should all be applying in our own daily lives?
Behind the lofty philosophy and all the thinking we do, there is a stirring groundedness in here and the now.
In one of his talks, Antony quoted from Kosho Uchiyama’s book, Opening The Hand Of Thought where he describes meditation as Wholeheartedly Sitting in the Middle of our Life - where “we are not aiming at an idea of enlightenment, but just Sitting with poise and grace, no matter what,” and “simply placing our sitting practice at the centre of our practice and life, and experiencing our being alive in that moment of stillness and sitting.”
|Sitting with poise and grace
|Image: Nhlakanipho Nkomo
Yes, we are open in Ixopo and it is time to put that spring back into your step
There is no better place to reboot and rejuvenate and to get in touch with nature than in the beautiful, tranquil surroundings and open spaces of the BRC.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
A huge thank you to all our generous donors and supporters who helped us during closure. We will never forget your generosity and hand of friendship. A big thank you too must go to our resilient resident staff for their commitment in ensuring that the BRC was ready for you when we were able to open.
We are thrilled that Rob Nairn will be joining our online programme in early September to lead 3 sessions entitled “From Mindfulness To Insight”.
I first met Rob at the University of Cape Town 45 years ago when I was giving lectures on Buddhist philosophy and Rob was a professor of criminology. In our exploration of the Buddha Dharma, Rob was attracted to the more flamboyant nature of Tibetan Buddhism, while I was drawn to the earlier form of Theravada. Our friendship deepened and endured as we each explored the different traditions of Buddhism. I have always admired Rob’s penetrating intellect and mind-set, his incisive grasp of the teachings and his ground-breaking exploration of Mindfulness.
“What is meditation? It is you and me, it is us! Our inner journey, our business, our effort. Nobody can do it for us. Meditation is a method of gaining access to our inner wisdom and compassion - and resolving our inner problems in the process” - Rob Nairn Diamond Mind
Be at peace,
|Through the plantation
|Image: Andrew Brown
Forthcoming Retreats: August/September/October 2020
People often yearn for an opportunity to recalibrate their lives and to spend some time in quiet reflection among like-minded people. The BRC provides such a refuge - where silence is a precious commodity. Choose practices such as yoga, qigong and meditation to live with more meaning, purpose and joy. Treat yourself to a personal retreat where you can wake up to bird song, walk in the morning mist, rake the sand garden, listen to the wind chimes and meditate in the company of the mossy Buddha.
|Image: Lisa de Venter
Conducted Retreats in Ixopo: August/September/October 2020
Nicky van der Hulst | Weekend | 28-30 August
Releasing, reconnecting and revisiting your heart space right now.
Release, Relax And Restore - With Yoga (Fully subscribed to)
Margot McMaster | Weekend | 4-6 September
Using yin yoga, kundalini yoga, trauma release and vinyasa flow, we will slowly unlock, unblock, re-energise and re-connect to each one of these energy centres in our body. The retreat will begin with a Chakra CheckTM so you can discover where you are currently blocked, locked or limited and you will learn techniques to help you shift back to strength, vitality and serenity.
Richard Ellis and Marc Kress | Weekend | 11-13 September
Brett Vallis | Weekend | 18-20 September
Dorian Haarhoff | Weekend | 25-27 September
Who is the 'who' that Rumi alludes to? There is something deeply fictional about us human beings. We are the stories we tell about ourselves. Rediscover the lost art of story-telling. Experience the joy, presence, mindfulness and transformation that arrive when we engage with a tale, learn how to craft it and inhabit it.
Dorian Haarhoff | 2 days | 27-29 September
Do you love reading poetry? Do you yearn to write poems? Poetry is a way of paying attention, listening, being in the moment and observing the world. We enter the world of images, rhythm, sound and subtle rhyme. We open to our creativity and imagination. As we cultivate a sense of belonging, our words offer us relationship, presence and healing.
Kugan Naidoo | Weekend | 2-4 October
Richard-John Chippindall | Weekend | 9-11 October
Enjoy some serene “alone” time on a Self-Retreat in the beautiful, indigenous setting of the BRC with chi kung, meditation, communing with nature, enjoying the vistas of the velvet Ixopo hills, and relishing the delicious vegetarian food for which the BRC is justly renowned.
|Image: Lisa de Venter
Online Programme: August/September/October 2020
24; 31 August; 7;14;21,29 September | Corinna Botoulas | Donation
We are part of the greater cycles of nature, bound to the ever-changing seasons of life. As within, so without, as above, so below.
Beginners are most welcome, and encouraged.
4;5;6 September | Rob Nairn | Donation
Mindfulness is the fundamental component of all forms of mind-training, and can be mastered by anyone who is prepared to put in a little effort. The main aspect is learning to bring the mind knowingly into the moment, allowing thoughts to appear and pass without interference, and becoming the impartial witness of the tendency to engage, without compulsively following through on it.
We learn to be present, respond with compassion and see deeply into our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Because the training is quite demanding, beginners find it helpful to have guided sessions until they establish enough confidence to continue by themselves.
Mindfulness is a mind state which combines our sharpest intelligence with a stable openness to our deepest inner states and processes. Mindfulness is a subtle process of learning to be ourselves at an increasingly real, profound and simple level. It may be embarrassing but it may also be inspiring, because it starts revealing our childishness, our weakness, shame, silly foibles, and also our marvellous wisdom, amazing capacity for love and compassion and clarity. It may reveal everything.
17 September | Lisa Firer and Craig Henen | Donation
During this online retreat we will introduce you to Mindfulness: the development of moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. We will taste different practices together and explore ways to bring this powerful way of being into our daily lives.
Mindfulness practice enables us to relate with more centeredness to whatever is unfolding and makes it possible to work creatively with the stresses and demands of daily living, especially at this time we find ourselves in. This retreat will be based on the work of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme.
A Morning Of Mindful Eating
20 September | Xenia Ayiotes | Donation
27 September | Ken Holmes | Donation
This first talk explores the Buddhist understanding of why life happens to each person in the way it does and how the way we deal with our karma is all-important, for both the present moment and the long-term future. Ken will concentrate on the overview and a deeper understanding of being embodied in this world rather than lists and details of karma that can be found in books.
3 October | Ken Holmes | Donation
The karma we inherit from our past forms the raw material of each moment, from which we can make either treasures or disasters. Words such as ‘acceptance’, ‘purification’ and ‘transformation’ are readily said but often misunderstood or poorly understood. It is joyful to be able to live well-equipped to face whatever karma life brings. Dharma gives us the tools.
Transition Online: Would You Like To Transition Beyond Current Challenges Into A Better Place Than You Were Before?
4;11;18 October | Monique Beekman | Donation
“If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth, will save you....If you do not bring forth that which is within you....What you do not bring forth, will destroy you.”
Are you feeling lost, blocked or stuck? For many people, this period has been a roller coaster of emotions and for some this has included unexpected changes in circumstance. Perhaps you sometimes feel that you are coping well, but at other times not so much. You may be feeling a bit shell-shocked, lost or in need of finding a new meaning in life? Maybe it's just an urge to re-centre and align with your core, or a need for a different perspective, or even a desire for an entirely new direction?
Transition Online is designed to support you in a way that resolves even age-old trauma and transforms not only your present, but your future. To have what you want but do not yet have, you have to go where you haven’t yet been. There is no other way!
With this in mind, Monique is offering Part 1 of her 3 Part Transition Online Programme.
When we think back to our first simple, spiral-bound recipe books “Just Cook It!” and “Essie In The Kitchen”, we have come a long way in sharing our recipes collected from friends, chefs and aspiring cooks over the last 40 years. “Humble Beginnings” features our quinoa rissoles with spinach and chickpeas - a firm favourite - served with spicy tomato sauce. This recipe is in our newly printed “The Cake”. For those who would like to buy the “The Cake The Buddha Ate” or “Plentiful” and “Quiet Food” we are able to courier the books to your door. Please call the office on 0878901687 or email: .
|The Cake The Buddha Ate
|Images: Angela Shaw
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.
|A spot to contemplate in the velvet hills
|Image: Lisa de Venter
“You Can’t Fill The Hole In Your Heart With Food”
|Dining al fresco
|Image: Angela Shaw
About the BRC
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system in KwaZulu-Natal, the Buddhist Retreat Centre looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills receding like waves in the blue distance. Here, for thirty-nine years, people of all religions and none have come to experience peace and tranquility. It is a gentle, sympathetic space where one can be still and get in touch with oneself and reflect on the things that crowd one's life.
The BRC was voted by CNN as one of the ten best meditation centres in the world.
CNN Travel awarded another feather in the BRC’s cap by voting it as one of the ten best spiritual centres in South Africa, recently.
The BRC was awarded Natural Heritage status in 1995 under the auspices of the Department of Environmental affairs and received a certificate to that effect signed by President Nelson Mandela for turning an eroded farm into the natural paradise it has become - thousands of indigenous trees were planted by retreatants under the supervision of Mervyn Croft - with 160 species of birds, including the Blue Swallow, otter, deer, antbear and indigenous forests. The Centre was also given the special status of “Custodian of the Blue Swallow” for its work in preserving the breeding areas of this endangered bird.
The BRC facilitated the founding of Woza Moya, the community-based NGO, located in Ufafa Valley, twenty years ago, on the estate. Their vision is for all people in the community to be healthy and productive, to live in a safe and clean environment, with good access to services and social justice. The Centre continues to support the organisation in a variety of ways by contributing Dana, sponsoring their Directors, trainers and visitors' accommodation, and showcasing and promoting their wonderful crafts in the shop such as the sock monkeys, cushions, bags, scarves, beanies and stationery. The Woza Moya Crafters are local women who receive ongoing training and support to enable them to create these unique and charming best sellers. As a result of retreatants' Dana (Generosity) in 2019/20, the BRC was able to donate R 24,000 to Woza Moya to further enable their good work among the community and to help support the 50 children who attend the Woza Moya play school.
Please continue to support the BRC to get back on its Dharma feet by becoming a friend of the Buddhist Retreat Centre (a non-profit organisation) and find out more about the BRC's Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ projects.
We have been very touched by your appreciative letters, emails, support and friendship towards the BRC - your spiritual home from home.
Visit our website for further information, directions, image gallery etc.
The email was sent to: