The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: November 2021
|Image: Kim McLeod
The Chant Of The Cuckoo
An old pine preaches wisdom
November at the Buddhist Retreat Centre is the month when the rains come. And the cuckoos. You can hear several species of them calling at this time of the year, including the Black, the Jacobin, the Diderick and, of course, the Red-chested cuckoo, the bird everyone knows by its call, even if they have never seen the bird itself. A classic example of ornithological onomatopoeia, the bird’s Afrikaans common name, Piet my vrou, is derived from its repetitive and insinuating call, translated as “Piet my wife”. A strange interpretation perhaps, yet the phrase “Piet my vrou” is a perfect fit with the three notes of this cuckoo’s distinctive signature tune. The call is that of the male - the female sings “pik, pik, pik”. The name of her prospective mate?
There is no doubt the conjunction of language and sound can make the call an irritating one, and for years I found it so. As soon as the bird began calling I would find myself, quite against my will, matching it word for word. Or rather, word for note. An added vexation, while other birds mostly sing at dawn or dusk, the Piet my vrou strikes up at any hour of the day and night. Try counting sheep at three in the morning while lying in bed mentally chanting “piet my vrou, piet my vrou” like a stuck record.
I once mentioned my antipathy apropos this cuckoo and its call to Antony Osler. He gave me some good advice: “Don’t listen to the words that have become attached to the call, just listen to the bird.” It took a while, and some concentration, but I have since managed to eradicate the nuisance factor of those three intrusive words and replace them with three clear, pure, liquid notes. Thus enabled to listen to the bird irritation has been transformed into affection.
|Image: Al Nicol
Now And Zen: Reboot, Recharge And Retreat
There is no better place than the BRC to rejuvenate the body and mind with nature, meditation and movement to guide you into presence and stillness.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
|Amber and snow
|Image: Louis van Loon
There are still a few spaces left on the following October retreats:
indicates retreats held in Noble Silence
Stand Like A Tree To Power Up Your Chi
Step Into Spring With a Self Retreat And Reiki
Plant Identification At The BRC: Feel The Ground Beneath Your Feet
Under The Rose-Apple Tree: A Weekend Of Meditation Practice
Life Tides And Word Links: A Weekend Course In Poetry
|Buddha and the bodhi leaves
|Image: Gavin Naicker
Conducted Retreats November 2021
Dawn Garisch | 5 days | 2-7 November
Phumla Shongwe | Weekend | 12-14 November
Paul Dorrian | Weekend | 19-21 November
Mervyn Croft | Weekend | 26-28 November
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. 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, meditate in garden of the Bamboo Grove.
| Valley and sky vista
|Image: Gavin Naicker
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 tranquillity. 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.
Recently, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife granted the BRC “Private Nature Reserve” for the conservation of the rare Blue Swallow and Mistbelt Grassland.
The BRC facilitated the founding of Woza Moya, the community-based NGO, located in Ufafa Valley, twenty-one 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 by showcasing their crafts in the shop and sponsoring their trainers and consultants. The Woza Moya Crafters are local women who receive ongoing training and support to enable them to create these unique and charming best sellers.
Please continue to support the BRC 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.
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