The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: February 2024
To go on retreat does not imply simplistic withdrawal or a weary disengagement from things. It is more strategic than that. It means that one responds to the need to pause, to reflect and refresh oneself before moving on again.
To retreat after a period of activity is as natural and necessary as resting after a day’s work or exhaling after breathing in. There is profound wisdom in retreating. It has nothing to do with defeat. Rather, it ensures that creative energy remains available at all times to do a full day of meaningful living.
Pause and reflect
|Image: Angela Buckland
A spiritual retreat adds yet another dimension to the idea that it is possible to restore one’s power to fully engage life. There is, indeed, more to retreating than simply resting before becoming physically active again. To retreat in a spiritual sense adds introspective depth to whatever one is engaged in and allows insight and perspective to emerge. It enables one to see causal connections and wholes that would otherwise remain hidden. Without these insights, wisdom is lacking and one’s worldly actions remain shallow and superficial. The quality and mystery of being human is never experienced.
Buddhism particularly offers a profound and philosophical method to understand consciousness at all levels of human experience through the practice of meditation. What makes a Buddhist spiritual retreat attractive for those born into a western mind-set is that the Buddhist form of introspection is not simply a withdrawal from the world of experience or a momentary still space between periods of worldly engagement. In Zen particular emphasis is placed on fusing meditative forms of awareness seamlessly with daily life situations: physical reality and contemplative understanding are not different; they are – or can become – a single, all-embracing experience.
|Image: Sharlene Lupke
For this reason, a spiritual retreat in the Buddhist tradition may take the form of strict sitting and walking practice in silence, or it may involve art, brush painting, qigong and ceremonial tea drinking. Spiritual practice has more to do with cultivating a noble and insightful quality of mind – one that becomes immediately evident in the way one comes across in the world – rather than something that is only done in a special place at a special time, in isolation and divorced from the ordinary circumstances of life.
The retreats offered at the Centre for the first half of the year reflect this tradition. Come and experience it first-hand.
We look forward to welcoming you to the green hills of Ixopo.
|Stand tall like a tree
|Image: Charlene Lupke
There are still a few spaces left on the following January retreats:
☸ indicates retreats held in noble silence
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg | 10 days | 15- 25 January
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg | Weekend | 19-21 January
Jonathan Preboy and Anna Scharfenberg | 4 days | 21-25 January
Hannelize Robinson | Weekend | 26- 28 January
|A sound journey with Bruce van Dongen
|Image: Lien Duvenage
Conducted Retreats February 2024
☸ indicates retreats held in noble silence
Patti Good | 2 days | 30 January -1 February
Theresa Hardman | Weekend | 2-4 February
Beatrice Kidd | 6-22 February | Donation of R1000 to support the BRC
Dr Hu Jin-Yun | Weekend | 9-11 February
Ajahn Sucitto | 7 days | 11-18 February
Steve Davis | Weekend | 23-25 February
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.
| Greater double collared sunbird
|Image: Andrew Brown
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 four 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.
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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