New! Safety Handrails on all our steps!

Hand-railsFor all of you who are familiar with retreats here in the wetter or colder months, which to be honest can be pretty often. You’ll be pleased to know that we have just had installed quite robust but pleasing handrails around all of the outside steps.

This is something which we have been planning to do for some time as the steps can be quite slippy in wet or icy weather.

I have been very busy over the year with finding suitable contractors to carry out the work to our budget. This week I am pleased to have just finished painting them all, so you should feel a lot safer on the steps, especially at night.

best wishes                  Bodhananda

 

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Balajit moves to pastures new

After eight years as a member of the Vajraloka team and community, Balajit has recently moved on to Birmingham. Balajit originally came here as quite a recently ordained Order member. Over the years he’s contributed a huge amount to Vajraloka, the place, team and centre. Apart from being our main publicity man for quite some years, he’s developed into a talented and effective meditation teacher and retreat leader with a unique style (as those who’ve met his monkey and alligator puppets in the shrine room will undoubtedly agree)!

All the same, we’re pleased that Balajit is going to be keeping up his connection with Vajraloka – he will still be coming here to lead, co-lead or support retreats, and as he is remaining as one of our Trustees, his ongoing contribution will continue to go even further. We wish him well for his new ventures and livelihood plans, and look forward to continuing to work with him in the development of increasingly excellent and effective meditation teaching and Dharma practice within the Triratna Community.

balajit

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In the loop

We now have a sound loop system in the shrineroom, for the hard of hearing.

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Our shrineroom is generally a very quiet and still place most of the time. Though when a retreat leader is doing a presentation or leading a meditation it can be difficult for those with hearing difficulties to follow what is being said. Our new sound loop system will pick up voices in the shrineroom and transmit them to anyone with a suitable hearing device, in a amplified form.

If you are considering coming on a retreat at Vajraloka, and would like to know whether the system is compatible with you own hearing device please do get in touch.

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Paving over paradise?

Our small parking area has been coming under increasing pressure as more and more people come to Vajraloka by car. To compound this the area had been getting very muddy and churned up during wet periods – meaning it was often wise to put on wellies before stepping foot on vajraloka soil!

Following much discussion and consideration of options, work finally started on a new car park for vajraloka….

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Due to space constraints our new car park is only a little bit bigger than the previous one, but it does have a whole new surface – that is almost entirely mud free.

To help us best manage our car park, please do let us know if you want to arrive by car when you book. Also if at all possible do consider sharing your car (and petrol costs too) by posting a offer on our Liftshare page. Particularly if you can book sometime in advance, you may also find it is cheaper and easier to come by public transport (we will collect you from Corwen if on the bus that arrives at 4.10)..

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Victory In Retreat Poem

Time at Vajraloka can bring all sorts of fruits. People often leave the Alwen valley inspired to try new things, let go of old things and step onto new ground.

As a example, Tim Harris kindly shares below some words that chart his own personal journey here…….
photo tim
Victory in Retreat

Amongst rolling hills cloaked in clouds and trees,
Above the Alwen’s surging swell,
In the Red Dragon’s fair country,
Where the native Cymri dwell,
My tiresome journey was finally done –
To blesséd Vajraloka I had thankfully come.
I carried with my baggage, a heavy, heavy load,
Which had made my travels, a long and weary road.
Doubt I bore, and ignorance; conceit, self-hatred too,
Delusons I had plenty, and demons not a few.
But welcome was I given, and a place to lay my head;
I was adequately watered, and more than adequately fed.
Then came meditation, and mantras chanted every night,
And deep within me stirred – a feeling of delight!
My demons were not happy – they shouted their dismay;
“Oh no!” they cried, “It can’t be true – he’s found the Middle Way!”
And so they schemed and plotted, to find a cunning plan,
To bring me back from happiness, to their hellish land.
Meanwhile, in the sacred shrine, tears trickled down my face,
For joy had come upon me, by means of Buddha’s grace.
Sweet, pure and wholesome, was the Dharma’s taste,
And, of course, let’s not forget, the Sangha’s warm embrace.
Doubt dissolved and blew away, as does the mist on a sunny day.
Shattered too, self-hatred’s power, as self-regard bloomed like a flower.
But then the Lord of Demons, he whispered in my ear,
And said to me things – he thought – I would be terried to hear.
“Sorry, old chap,” he said, “I don’t mean to cause you pain,
But can’t you see it would be best if you returned to Hell again?
Perhaps you do not understand – here, let me make it plain;
If you start to love yourself, you’ll soon become quite vain.
You’ll give up being good and kind, and selfishness will grow,
Until you are an evil man – surely, this you know?
Aren’t you really better off with self-hatred, shame and doubt?
So stop with all this foolishness, and let us turn about.”
“No,” I said, “I’ve heard the truth – this debate you will not win.
For now I know that love of self is actually no sin.
When self and other, you realise, are in fact the same,
Where compassion and love for all, is your only aim,
There hatred has no place – no place! – for me, nor anyone.
So, you see, my demon friend – your argument’s undone!”
He gave a mighty curse and prepared to quit the field.
“This time I’ve lost,” he spat, “but one day you will yield!”
“Wait!” I said, “Before you go, I’ve one last thing to say;
This battle we’ve been fighting, ends right here – today!
I know you are a part of me, so I must love you too,
Despite all your nastiness, and the harm you do.”
At these words the Lord of Hell made a desparate sound,
And hurriedly he tried to sink deep into the ground.
“Not so fast!” I said, and hugged him close and tight;
The Lord of Hell he struggled, and fought with all his might.
But he could not escape my hold, and wept into my chest.
“There, there,” I said with kindness – knowing I’d done what’s best.
The Lord of Hell defeated, he vanished without a trace,
Never again to haunt my mind – now a hallowed space.
Back to the shrine went I, metta bavana to perform.
And there I sat the whole night long, until the light of dawn.

Tim Harris

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Our Visiting Trustee’s

Even people who may have been coming on retreat here regularly for many years may not be aware of our external trustee’s who work behind the scenes to help Vajraloka do what it does.

For several years now our external trustee’s have been Aranyaka, Saccavicaya and Achara. They give up there time freely in all sorts of ways to help take the Vajraloka project forward. In particular they bring all sorts of skills and experience to our decision making, and provide a sort of objective outsiders eyes to the running of a small charity and to community living on a remote welsh hillside. We couldn’t do without them!

Saccavicaya, Aranyaka and Achara

Saccavicaya, Aranyaka and Achara

Three times a year the external trustee’s and the Vajraloka community meet to discuss current issues. In between these meetings, there is also phone and email contact.

So a big thank you to all the time and effort Saccavicaya, Aranyaka and Achara have put in over the years!

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Vajraloka Team event at Padmaloka

The Vajraloka teaching team have recently returned from leading a weekend event at the Padmaloka Retreat Centre in Norfolk.

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The weekend had a broad theme of Meditating with Confidence and was specifically for men who are training for ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order. Over the course of the weekend the team explored some key areas of practice including grounding, the views we hold, approaches to the cultivation of metta and experiential inquiry into the 3 lakshana’s. As with all retreats at Vajraloka, there were some periods of silence too. Around seventy people were on the weekend.

Overall the Vajraloka team wanted to include some key aspects of the retreats we run here, within the more condensed timescale of a weekend.

It is hoped that more events at Padmaloka will be planned in the future.

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Breath by Breath Retreat Places ! (26 Oct – 5 Nov)

Due to a few late cancellations places have become available on the forthcoming Breath by Breath retreat. The retreat will be led by Prakasha one of the most experienced and skilled teachers in the Triratna Community. You can book either via the website, or by post. Any queries, do get in touch with us.

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2013 Programme Now Out

Earlier this week we completed our big mail-out, so if you are on our mailing list there should be one on your doormat soon! Alternatively, you can pick up a copy of our programme at your local Triratna Centre or view it online here.

If you wish to go onto our mailing list for the annual programme mail out, or for whatever reason want to be deletted from it, do get in touch with your details.

You can book online (full payment only) for any of our future retreats through this website, where you will receive immediate confirmation. Some of the retreats are likely to book quickly! If you are unsure of which retreat to choose, or need advise on whether you have sufficient experience, do give us a call or drop us a line as we will be happy to help.

Maybe see you in the Alwen valley soon!

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Weekend in Dublin

Balajit and Bodhananda have recently returned from a weekend of Vajraloka outreach work with the Dublin sangha.

They gave two talks on the Friday evening. Bodhananda shared what inspires him to practice, drawing on various episodes from his time teaching the dharma in Nepal, India and Japan, as well as more recently from working in the National Health Service. Balajit gave a practical talk on ways of working in meditation. This included the role the ethical precepts can play in guiding us towards a helpful ‘inner relationship’ with what arises in our experience and a short puppet show on the mindfulness of breathing!

Two separate day event workshops followed. Through short talks, sits and led exercises various themes relating to the basic meditation practices of the Triratna community were explored. One key area was looking at the views we hold about our meditation practice, and ways of finding our own most effective ways of working in the practices, given our own particular issues and conditioning.

Many thanks go to Vajrashura and others in the dublin sangha for being such warm and organised hosts!

Its hoped that more Vajraloka outreach work will happen in Ireland during 2013.

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