The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: September/October 2020
|Image: Andrew Brown|
It was wonderful to gather with Rob Nairn and 50 others for two sessions of “From Mindfulness To Insight”.
Having pioneered Mindfulness Training in this country and having established master classes at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, we were in the best hands to bring us to ground and remind us of the importance of living our our daily lives with more clarity and presence of mind. Don't miss his third session scheduled for this Sunday, 13 September, at 9.30-10:30am.
Nowadays, I relish just sitting in light - soft, warm sun in the slightest of breezes, enjoying doing very little - just hearing the hum of a pump, the whoosh of passing traffic and the occasional muted voices in the distance and the raucous, excited cries of the Hadedas flying over. Such moments of Here-Now Mindfulness are among the most precious gifts I have received from the Buddha's teachings. And they are simple and self-evident and available in abundance to all of us if we just get out of their way and allow ourselves to be receptive and vulnerable to them.
|Yellow throated woodland warbler||Andrew Brown|
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 Ken Holmes will be joining us on Zoom from La Ciotat in Provence, France, in September and October for 2 sessions on Karma: What is it and what can we do about it?
A friend, poet and musician, he has been teaching in Ixopo and in Africa for many years. He is an internationally-respected dharma teacher and translator of ancient Tibetan texts. Former Director of Studies of the Samye Ling group of centres, he shares his fifty years of experience studying under many of the most famous Tibetan masters of the 20th century. The way he presents the teachings is deeply-informed yet very accessible and often with a light and humorous touch. We hope that you will join him online.
His poem on Karma is thoughtful:
It’s ‘karma’ in Sanskrit and ‘drama’ in Greek
Be at ease,
|Without light||Image: Andrew Brown|
The concept of self-actualization is used pretty loosely. Coined originally by Kurt Goldstein, the concept referred to the individual becoming holistic through the realization that we comprise ‘self’ together with the environments that we inhabit. The concept was subsequently developed further by Maslow who positioned it at the apex of his hierarchy of needs. In this context Maslow defined self-actualization as ‘what a man can be, he must be’ (I assume this referred to women as well!) More contemporary thinkers have defined self-actualization as the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, emotional and social potential as the source of our primary motivation, as opposed to being motivated and driven by environmental expectation, reward, power and status.
In the world of modern coaching, self-actualization became the buzz word. Consequently, coaching clients have been guided to ‘unleash their full potential’. When one fleshes out what the cornerstone is of the existing coaching offering we note an emphasis on such functions as goal-setting, enhancing self-esteem and seeking material reward and achievement. It struck me that all these concepts were directed at enhancing oneself as an entity divorced from one’s environment, or even at the expense of the environment. The self-actualization arising from this approach would be a half-baked version still driven by environmental expectation, status and prestige. It would serve only to forever feed the narcissistic needs of our being.
|KZN dawn||Image: Andrew Brown|
The missing component is value contribution to the greater whole. Value contribution can be defined as making something better than it was before engaging with it. This applies to self, to one’s personal environment and to the greater environment. Fundamental to value contribution is the requirement that we develop a sensitivity and empathy to self and to those in the greater external environment. In this way we may see ourselves as well as our suffering in the lives and suffering of others and thereby develop the motivation for value contribution. Additionally we contribute meaningfully to our own self-actualization. This was one of the core themes in the teachings of Viktor Frankl. Frankl took the concept further by indicating that this engagement would contribute materially to finding our own personal meaning and purpose. Allied to value contribution is the concept of gratitude. Effectively, gratitude is empathy received from something bigger than self. It is an acknowledgement of one’s fortunate situation as well as the existence of an order greater than oneself. This leads poignantly on to another of Frankl’s teachings – transform the expectations that you have of life into the question rather of what the greater order of things expects of you as a unique self-actualized individual. Here lies the real driver to attaining personal meaning and purpose.
As we engage a new post-Covid order I would like to believe that somehow we will be able to transcend the half-baked version of self-actualization with its narcissistic components, its obsession with consumerism and its disparaging judgementalism, to the more authentic version. Perhaps the fear, the illness, the financial hardships and the resulting existential vacuum may just be the catalyst that spurs us on to incorporate a little more sensitivity and empathy and thereby create a more meaningful, supportive, respectful and sustaining space.
Forthcoming Retreats: 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.
|Shadow (the cat) and the fireplace||Image: Andrew brown|
Conducted Retreats in Ixopo: September/October 2020
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
Roger O’Neil | Weekend | 16-18 October
Di Franklin | Weekend | 23-25 October
Deepening Your Emotional Intelligence Through Mindfulness: Gaining insights into your emotional intelligence for resonant relationships
Shanil Haricharan | Weekend | 30 October- 1 November
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.
|Qigong||Image: Andrew Brown|
Online Programme: September/October 2020
13 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.
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.
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.
|Through the woods||Image: Sean Laurenz|
The Cake The Buddha Ate
Some of you may not know the story behind the title of The Cake the Buddha Ate. Our chef, Daniel Jardim, at the time, had whipped up a delicious carrot cake and taken some slices out to his kuti to enjoy with tea the next day. Upon waking, he noticed that a slice had gone missing during the night. Puzzled, he took a closer look. His gaze came to rest on the little shrine he had created which had a bronze Buddha statue at its centre. The Buddha’s beautiful smile seemed a little coy in the early morning light. There was a smudge on the side of the Buddha’s mouth. It was icing sugar…. The Cake has risen again, been sliced and iced - in its reprint. For those who would like to buy the The Cake The Buddha Ate , Plentiful and Quiet Food we are able to courier the books to your door. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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.
To register, please contact the office at email@example.com for details on registration and payment.
|Fireside musings in The Studio||Image: Fanele Dube|
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.
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