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
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!
The Vajraloka teaching team have recently returned from leading a weekend event at the Padmaloka Retreat Centre in Norfolk.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Between the 11th-22nd May, Tejananda will be leading the Emptiness – The Heart of Perfect Wisdom retreat. In a change to the advertised programme this retreat is now open to women.
As with all our retreats, you can book either on-line or by post.
Following the recent installation of 14 solar panels on the roof of our community house, Vajraloka is now generating its own electricity. Whilst the 3.5kW solar project, will not meet all our electricity needs, it will make a significant contribution. On more sunny days, it will feed any excess electricity into the national grid, and therefore help power neighbouring homes in the valley!
We made the £10,000 investment in the panels to reduce our carbon footprint and to benefit from current government subsidies – which make it a viable investment. The panels are expected to continue farming energy from the sun for at least the next 25 years. Whilst the panels generate more energy with clear skies and sun, they also function at a lower level with just daylight. So even during heavily overcast days (not unheard of here) we will benefit from the panels.
Earlier this week we also replaced the old drafty wooden framed windows in the retreat centre dining room and kitchen, with modern double glazed units. It is hoped these will reduce heating costs well as bring more light into the spaces.
Hopefully the new solar panels and double glazing will be the first steps in a much bigger vision to dramatically reduce Vajraloka’s carbon footprint, and thus play our part in responding to the global challenge of Climate change. Last year a comprehensive green audit of our energy use came out with a number of recommendations which we are now trying to prioritise. One key challenge ahead will be replacing our gas (LPG) based system of heating with a more environmentally sustainable alternative, such as wood chip burners.
If you have any skills or knowledge in this area do get in touch. We would also welcome any offers of financial support, as the initial start up capital costs tend to be high.
Whilst most Vajraloka events happen at our retreat centre in North Wales, we also visit other Triratna centres around the UK and further afield to lead day or evening events and sangha retreats. Outreach work has been an important part of what Vajraloka offers for many years. Taking to the road helps us stay in connection with local centres, hear what people issues and interests with their meditation and Dharma practice are, and offer our teachings and perspectives more widely – especially for those who, for whatever reason, are not able to come to Vajraloka.
Balajit has just returned from being on the south coast, where he led three evening workshops, for people from the Southampton and Winchester Sanghas (see photo). Within the framework of the Triratna system of meditation and the four foundations of mindfulness, the workshops explored different perpsectives on the basic practices. Each evening also investigated the ways we project concepts onto our immediate sense experience and how this gives rise to unnecessary suffering and confusion.
Tejananda recently led a weekend event at the North London Buddhist Centre on the Triratna system of meditation. On this he explored deepening and ‘customising’ our practice of the mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana, and ways to engage with insight practices around the theme of the three marks – impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self or insubstantiality.
More outreach events are already planned for 2012 and beyond.
Following a year long search for a new team member, with few stones left unturned, we are pleased to say that Bodhananda will be joining us in November this year. Many of you may remember him, as he has lived here twice before : between 1985-8 and 1996-2000.
Bodhananda has a broad range of experience, from both within the Triratna Community and outside, which will no doubt diversify and deepen what Vajraloka can offer. He has taught meditation and buddhism in different parts of the UK, as well in Nepal, Japan and India. He also lived at the Guhyaloka Vihara in Spain for a number of years, pursuing his interest in meditation, study and community living. In recent years, following a lengthy training in the National Health Service, he qualified, and worked as, a Clinical Technologist in nuclear medicine. This involved tending to the very sick and terminally ill.
So Bodhananda will be a regular face on our retreats from November onwards.
Following the rigorous and quite cathartic removal of our old kitchen units – which had served us well for 20 or so years – work started on a new kitchen over the winter.
To keep costs down, Ian (our cook) specified the job himself – a painstaking process involving detailed measurements and difficult decisions on what new units we need where. He looked much more relaxed when the costly bespoke units were delivered and it all fitted perfectly together! Thanks also to Steve from Sheffield, who did the tiling and decorating amongst other things.
We now have a new floor, sparkling stainless steel units and new wall tiling. Gone too is the ‘nursery school’ yellow on the walls, it being replaced by bright white.
So it all looks a lot smarter, and will hopefully last us long into the future.