The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: 11 July 2020
How gratifying it was to celebrate the 85th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a Zoom gathering organised by Elizabeth Gaywood and the Tibetan Society of South Africa. It was wonderful to see many familiar faces and friends from around the country and abroad and realise the importance of Sangha in these unsettled times.
On the importance of the Sangha, the Buddha was explaining the role of spiritual friends on the Path to Liberation.
Ananda said to the Buddha, "It seems, Oh, Awakened One, that spiritual friends are half the Path."
“No, Ananda,” replied the Buddha, "They are the whole of the Path."
On the importance of the Sangha the Buddha was explaining the role of spiritual friends on the Path to Liberation.
Ananda said to the Buddha, "It seems, Oh, Awakened One, that spiritual friends are half the Path."
“No, Ananda,” replied the Buddha, "They are the whole of the Path."
A spot to contemplate
|Image: Lisa de Venter|
Twelve weeks ago, we reached out to the BRC’s Sangha Friends for help. It was a time of great distress and uncertainty and you responded with generosity, warmth, and care. Your support has made it possible for us to keep the Dharma wheels turning in Ixopo, the Chi flowing and the Buddha Way open. We are deeply grateful for your donations without which the BRC would not survive. Thank you too to those teachers who have offered to teach online, and to the many who are supporting our online programme.
Those who have been so patient in accepting rollovers in lieu of deposits for cancelled retreats in circumstances beyond our control - our Sangha Friends - who care about preserving the BRC as a sanctuary for posterity, thank you for your consideration. We have been humbled by your generosity and kindness all round. For the forty years in its operation, the BRC has always honoured its cancellation and refund policy, so rest reassured we will honour your deposits as revenue starts to trickle in. With your patience, we are able to keep the lights on and to pay our resident staff who are doing their best to maintain the 300 acre property for you to return to in new horizons. To put it plainly, if everyone claims their refunds now, the BRC will find itself in financial straits - beyond a point of no return. Please bear with us if you care about the future of the BRC until we are back on our Dharma feet, financially.
|Sangha is the path||Image: Angela Shaw|
The Centre opened its doors on 1 July for Conducted and Self Retreats, with all the necessary protocols in place to ensure your safety and that of the staff. The number of people attending retreats will be restricted. Our retreats will lend themselves to alone time, physical distancing, fresh air, pure spaces, and feeling the ground beneath your feet. We will be very mindful to make people feel safe, comfortable and at ease.
Two self-retreatants joined us last week, and enjoyed the walks, spotting deer and many birds. They were largely left alone to relax, enjoy morning qigong and afternoon meditation, relishing the food which they said is just as good as as ever!
We understand that people may have reservations about returning and retreating because the spectre of the virus is still very much alive, but we can assure you that we will be practising social distancing and wearing masks, taking temperatures and asking our visitors to complete a log.
The BRC offers open spaces, trails and walks; the chance to sit at Nalanda Rocks overlooking the valley feeling the breeze on your face; to reflect and refocus at the dam or at the Stupa, to sit quietly in the Zendo; to take a step out of lockdown into fresh air and healing, tranquil surroundings after months of enforced isolation.
And most importantly, to breathe…….
Our July retreat programme in Ixopo will offer you the opportunity to tune into your body and to instill what the Buddha indicated we can do in difficult times - develop more compassion and wisdom in everything we do.
|Gong in the meditation hall||Image: Paul Pretorious|
For those of you who cannot travel to Ixopo, Dorian Haarhoff encourages you to “ imagine our retreat space at the real live BRC… the teaching studio with its thatch roof fireplace, the meditation hall with its giraffe-legged gong , the garden of delights set amid the hills that Alan Paton celebrates in the opening lines of Cry, The Beloved Country:
"There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it."
Or, join Colin Kemery on Zoom from the BRC for a Saturday morning qigong session to harvest the chi and touch the clouds….
Chrisi and Louis
|A tunnel through the trees||Image: Angela Shaw|
Stephen Coan, poet, writer, journalist and friend has written three tea stories. Here is the second tea story.
Tea Story 2
In the late Seventies the BBC made a television series on world religions called The Long Search. The presenter was the theatre director and actor Ronald Eyre, an agnostic who described himself as a ‘perambulating question mark’. The intention of the series was to uncover the experiential nature of the world’s religions rather than their dogmas and doctrines, their rules and regulations. After his wanderings around the globe the final programme found Eyre back in his London flat alone. There, while making tea – boiling a kettle, warming the pot, spooning in the tea leaves, adding the water and allowing the brew to steep – Eyre reflected on his personal experience over the course of the series coming to the conclusion that the religious people he had met divided into two types: on one hand there were the dogmatists, the theologians. If they were invited to tea at his flat Eyre decided they would sit in his lounge begin talking and soon turn to arguing, the end result: noise. Then there were those who simply got on with the spiritual life: lay people as well as the contemplatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Whatever their religious tradition if members of this group came to tea they would agree on their common experience and after a little conversation sit together in companionable silence. The last image of the film was of tea being poured into a waiting cup.
|The Way of tea||Image: Angela Shaw|
In China and Japan the making and drinking of tea has long been seen as an aspect of the religious experience. ‘For the last four hundred years there has existed in Japan a very definite point of view or way of life associated with the ceremonial drinking of tea. It is called Cha-No-Yu, literally Hot Water for Tea, or Chado, the Way of Tea...’ Thus begins Cha-No-Yu - The Japanese Tea Ceremony by A.L. Sadler, an exhaustive look at the way of tea first published in 1933.
The tea ceremony, as Sadler says, could be described as a household sacrament of aesthetics, economics and etiquette; a complex ritual involving the making of tea with prescribed movements and special vessels that takes place in a room, or even a separate building, set aside for the purpose. Sadler’s classic is devoted entirely to tea, the technicalities of the tea ceremony and the architecture, garden design, pottery, painting and other arts associated with it. Sadler also includes a selection of writings inspired by the way of tea. My favourite is a haibun by the court noble and poet Karasu Maru Mitsuhiru (1573-1639):
‘If you keep calm and untroubled by anything in creation, making your friends of the flowers of springtime and the tints of autumn, and taking a drop of alcohol when you feel inclined, you need not regard the world as such a bad place. Just sit down quietly and arrange a flower or two, burn a stick of good incense and sip a cup of fine tea, with some old books for company; and if a congenial friend does happen to drop in, you may find it very comforting to chat with them about all sorts of people from ancient times to the present day. Some say this kind of life is best achieved by retiring to the hills, but however far away you live you will find no peace of mind if you still harbour egoistic thoughts of honour and profit. So you may just as well live right in the middle of the city without changing your style or choosing any particular locality. Monk as monk, nun as nun, and layperson as layperson, the flowers are bright and the willow is green.
Whether you are enlightened or not
|Circumambulating the Buddha||Image: Angela Buckland|
Forthcoming Retreats: July 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.
Conducted Retreats in Ixopo: July 2020
Georgie Carter | Weekend | 17-19 July
Hannelize Robinson | Weekend | 24-26 July
Marc Kress | Weekend | 31 July-2 August
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.
|Find your stillness||Image: Sean Laurenz|
Online Programme: July - August 2020
11; 18 July | Colin Kemery
Nia Technique: Explore The Movement Art That Conditions The Body, Focuses The Mind, Fine Tunes The Emotions And Allows Our Unique Spirit To Shine Through
12 July | Susan Sloane
15 July | Dominique Garnett
20 July | Judy Farah
July 28; 29;30 | Lynne Marion
August 1 | Sue Cooper
Online fundraising morning retreat via Zoom in support of The Buddhist Retreat Centre, Ixopo. Please download the Zoom app and the link will be emailed to you on confirmation of your booking. Please book with Sue using the links below.
This dana-based online retreat is suitable for beginners and experienced practitioners and reminds us of the silent retreat experience. Please join us for a nurturing morning of contained silence, Buddhist wisdom teachings, guided meditations, qigong and contemplative reflection. Through the embodied practices of mindfulness and metta, we will establish a calm and open-hearted inner refuge, which strengthens our foundation of kindness and compassion. This fundraiser is an opportunity to come together as a sangha to offer support from wherever we are to the wonderful staff and centre with open-hearted generosity. A schedule will be provided ahead of time for planning your morning and the Zoom link will be sent on confirmation of your booking.
Please confirm your booking with a deposit and indicate how you would like your dana to be allocated (see Pricing for suggested sliding scale).
Dana (donation) for the BRC plus Teacher dana
Please feel free to offer whatever dana you are able to, using the suggested sliding scale as a guideline which allows you to offer more or less, according to your means.
Dana guideline for the BRC: R1000/750/500 - more or less (no-one will be excluded if there are financial constraints)
Sue Cooper Clinical Psychologist Pr. No. 8623244 Bray House 5 Bray Road Kenilworth 7708 Cell: 083 456 2569
4 August | Nicholas Burnand and Sarah Dekker
Transition Online: Would you like to transition beyond current challenges into a better place than you were before?
August 8;15;22;29; September 5;12;19 | Monique Beekman
8 August | Lucy Draper-Clarke and Felicity Hart
“When you are busy judging people, you have no time to love them.” Marshall Rosenberg
We will practice both intra-personal and inter-personal mindfulness in order to cultivate skills of empathy, compassion and a better understanding of self and other.
|Stupa and aloes||Image: Lisa de Venter|
This Is Not Just Another Recipe Book
Whether it is to be or not to be a vegetarian, our recipes are inventive, tasty and nutritious and also give you an additional flavour: the feel of the Retreat Centre. We are immensely grateful to you for ordering our recipe books for yourself or for friends. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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.
To register, please contact the office at email@example.com for details on registration and payment.
|Ponderous||image: Angela Shaw|
Poster - Print Fundraiser
This unique artwork has been created by illustrator and nature book author Duncan Butchart whose 'African Journey Collection' of poster-prints are in the style of the popular vintage travel posters of the 40’s and 50’s.
Butchart has travelled widely and carried out ecotourism assignments in eleven African countries. His poster-prints including Kruger, Cape Town, Okavango and Drakensberg can be seen here: dbnatureworks.com
As a boy, Duncan was entranced by the ‘Adventures of Tintin’ picture books created by the legendary Belgian cartoonist Hergé, and has used that distinctive ‘ligné clair’ style as the inspiration for his minimalist poster art.
The prints are available in three sizes and printed digitally on deluxe matt art paper with archival pigment inks, and each one is signed by the artist. Print and post for R600.00. Proceeds to go to the BRC. Please contact the BRC office: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Clivia among the Spirit House||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: