The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: Dec 2023 / Jan 2024
With 2024 just around the corner, we need to focus on new horizons which we have successfully navigated many times before as we put a difficult and capricious year behind us.
In our reflections on the past year and in our endeavours to set new intentions, we have the opportunity to rediscover our purpose for being here.
Let us not allow our past shortcomings to dominate our thinking as we take ourselves forward, but rather, let us acknowledge our successes and triumphs.
The Dhamma will always re-inspire and re-energise our efforts to find meaning behind the mayhem.
In this spirit, we wish you and your family new beginnings and thank all our Teachers, Retreatants, Patrons and Sangha Friends for their goodwill and generosity when it really mattered.
Tread lightly into the new year.
Louis, Chrisi, Lien, Venessa and Nelson
|Image: Andrew Brown
You Still Have Time To Place A Bid On Our Auction Which Closes On 15 December!
Please support our online auction; there are still some attractive items up for bidding, and some new listings have been added such as a week's stay in the three-bedded Royal Suite at the Peninsula Hotel in Cape Town.
Click here to browse the catalogue and place a bid.
|Pots on fire!
Conducted Retreats Dec 2023 and Jan 2024
Ingrid Adams, Lungelo Ncebo, Bernard Chatikobo and Venessa Muller | 4 days | 11-15 December
Bruce van Dongen | Weekend | 15-17 December
Tsunma Tsondru | 4 days | 22-26 December
Christmas is a time of the giving of gifts. All birthdays are honoured with gift-giving. Usually these gifts are of ‘things’. Yet the very best gift we can give is not anything tangible or material. It is to definitively take away the suffering of oneself, and of others. And this, after all, is the reason why we give material gifts in the first place. It’s also the reason why we do the myriad things we do in our lives. It’s because we are constantly in pursuit of this (seemingly unattainable) state of being: peace, happiness, contentment, an absence of ‘niggle’. The unlimited and ultimate gift would be to be happy without end, at peace without end, to give happiness and peace to all, without end. The Four Immeasurable Gifts are the ultimate gift. They are boundless equanimity, loving kindness, compassion, and joy.
The retreat will be held in an atmosphere of introspection and silence.
Tsunma Tsondru | 4 days | 29 December-2 January 2024
New Year is a good time of the year to take stock and contemplate our moment-to-moment, here-and-now reality in all its fullness. It’s a traditional time for clarifying our motivations, and for starting afresh with new intentions. Give yourself the gift of time over this New Year period to collect the Three Wise Medicines of gratitude, ahimsa and contentment, to reflect on the past year, and uncover how you can best live your life in the coming year. During this time together we will let our body, speech and mind fall silent through the practice of meditation and silence. There will also be time for writing and contemplation, walking and ceremony especially outside in nature. We will welcome the New Year with a lantern-lit ceremony in the Zendo, chanting, ringing out the old year with an ancient Chinese temple gong. The retreat will be held in an atmosphere of silence and introspection.
Painting on pots
|Image: Malcolm Powell
Time ToTune Into 2024: Gently Kickstart The New Year With Qigong, Hatha Yoga, Meditation And Healing Therapies
Brendon Small, Kugan Naidoo, Di Franklin and Deborah Don / Weekend / 5-7 January 2024
Duncan Rice / Weekend / 12-14 January 2024
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg / 10 days / 15- 25 January
The retreat starts with an introduction on Monday evening and follows the original Stages of Insight for ten full days of meditation. The aim of insight meditation is to understand reality, to see things as they really are. The main tool of insight meditation is mindfulness: mindfulness of body, feelings and mind. Ajahn Tong states that “attending a meditation retreat is training in the power of mindfulness. With intensive practice the wandering, struggling and chaotic mind can become composed, peaceful, refreshed and purified of negative hindrances.” Retreatants are required to practise approximately ten hours per day (between 5 am and 10 pm), follow the Buddhist precepts and maintain respectful silence throughout the retreat. The BRC staff and teachers will provide their whole-hearted support, including daily reporting, loving-kindness meditation (Metta) and Dhamma talks. Maximum 12 students. This retreat will overlap with the weekend retreat (19-21) and the 4 day retreat (21-25).
Thoughts come and go. Feelings come and go. Find out what it is that remains - Ramana Maharsh
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg / Weekend / 19-21 January
Vipassana (Insight) meditation is based on mindfulness, which is always available, everywhere, without limit or cost. The challenge is how to realise it. The answer was provided by the Buddha. He taught ways to cultivate mindfulness that lead to insight and awakening. This retreat is an invitation for beginners and experienced meditators to practise Vipassana using the traditional Buddhist method of Ajahn Tong. For beginners it is a simple and direct technique to start meditating and for experienced meditators, it is a skilful method to deepen their insight. Mindfulness is developed by regular walking and sitting practice, by maintaining awareness during normal activities, such as eating, showering, dressing and supported by talks and daily interviews with a teacher. The weekend will be held in silence. Retreatants are welcome to join the subsequent 4-day meditation retreat.
Sustain awareness at every moment in every posture, whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down. This is the way to establish mindfulness in the heart - Ajahn Chah
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg / 4 days / 21-25 January
Vipassana (Insight) meditation uses mindfulness to search for the mental and emotional patterns that cause suffering. The aim is not merely to overcome suffering but to learn how to wake up and be fully alive in the present moment. This four-day retreat is an opportunity to deepen meditation practice using the traditional Buddhist method of Ajahn Tong. Meditators are encouraged to stay for the entire course but may also stay for a shorter time and beginners are welcome to learn how to start Vipassana meditation. Mindfulness is developed by regular walking and sitting practice (both in the meditation hall and outside in the forest), by maintaining awareness during normal activities such as eating, showering, dressing and supported by daily interviews with a teacher. The retreat will be held in silence.
What is looking is what you are looking for - St. Francis of Assisi
Hannelize Robinson / Weekend / 26- 28 January
Think peace over pressure and serenity over stress. Enjoy some time at the BRC mid-week, with nourishing vegetarian meals, sunrise meditation and nature's healing embrace to colour the mood of your day. There is no better place than the BRC to rejuvenate the body and mind to guide you into presence and stillness.
| A traditional tea ceremony
|Image: Chrsi van Loon
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 forty two 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-two 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.
We have been very touched by your appreciative letters, emails and friendship towards the BRC - your spiritual home from home.
We are deeply grateful for your generous gifts to the Centre in the form of PUY and Monthly contributions, new beds and bases, office chairs and a desk, a new refrigerator, microwave oven, bathroom towels, indigenous trees and seedlings, books for our library, a generator, garden benches, pillows, towels and linen, geyser insulation blankets, clothing and Dana for our staff, an inverter and beautiful antique scrolls and Imari platters and ceramics, framed prints and Thankas, new tablecloths and serviettes, signage for our forest paths - and so much more. Thank you to all of you who continue to support our work in Ixopo with monthly and Paid Up Yogi contributions and donations, with gifts, or with skills and time. And, of course, to everyone who comes to the Centre - you keep us open and viable - and to our teachers who keep the Dharma wheels turning. We are deeply grateful for your generosity towards us; it encourages us to continue Louis’ beautiful vision and legacy for the future.
Please continue to support the BRC by becoming a friend of the Buddhist Retreat Centre (a registered non-profit organisation) and find out more about the BRC's Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ projects.
Visit our website for further information, directions, image gallery etc.
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Pots on fire