Vajraloka: an Update and an Invitation

This invitation is written for people who are interested in what is happening at Vajraloka, those who might be thinking of coming on retreat here and, indeed, those who might be interested in moving here and joining the team. We are currently looking for an additional four team members.

“Love is the Awareness of the Being of another Person.”

Sangharakshita’s aphorism, quoted above, is essentially what Vajraloka is about. That is, supporting a deeper understanding of what it is to be aware and how that awareness can naturally respond to unfolding experience with a spirit of love. The conditions to support this deepening include the retreats we run, the way the community live and work together and how we interact with the wider movement and world.

The last two years have been a challenge for everyone, including us at Vajraloka. This has led to a time of review both individually and collectively.

As part of this review we have been recently looking at how we can improve things here and this invitation outlines our reflections on the changes we are proposing.

Community

The Vajraloka community has several dimensions. Firstly, there is the residential community living at Vajraloka. Secondly, there’s the community that builds up during a retreat. Finally, there’s the community of retreat leaders and retreat supporters.

The residential community

We in the residential community both keep the place running and support and lead retreats. Each member of the community has an area of work for which they are responsible. It is intended that even with these responsibilities team members have time and space to be on the retreats, pursue their dharma interests, have time away and fun together.

It’s a challenge to live in a residential community some distance from a town. At the same time it can be very rewarding. We are surrounded by beautiful countryside which is easily accessible for walking and cycling. The quietness of the place is also supportive of reflection and the deepening of one’s meditation practice. The remoteness also provides a condition for deep bonds of friendship and connection to arise between each other in the community.

We have been looking at how we can both support new team members and create a supportive training programme. We are also looking at how we work together and how we can create a greater sense of team work.

Despite nearly all of the retreats we have here now being mixed, Vajraloka has up until now been a men’s community. A number of people have pointed out the inconsistency in a male-only team running a retreat centre where the majority of retreats are open to all. We’ve been aware of this and have been discussing the pros and cons of opening the community to all. Now, the team, together with our trustees and our president, Prakasha, have agreed that the community, as well as all retreats, will be open to people irrespective of gender.

Vajraloka is a vegan community and centre. This spirit of non-harm supports both receptivity to the silence and the stillness here.

The retreat community

One of the joys of living at Vajraloka is experiencing the growth of a community on each of the retreats. Out of the beauty of the silence something wonderful flowers, a deep sense of each other and our interconnection with one another.

The silence of the place is deeply held by the landscape and is in the very fabric of the buildings, imbued by all the practice that has taken place here over the last forty years.

Silence is often supported by people returning, bringing their previous experience of silence with them. In the magic of silence, people regularly come here as strangers and leave as friends.

During the covid pandemic we have extended the sense of our retreat community online, reaching practitioners in all parts of the world. We will be continuing with online events as their value is clear and it is possible to reach people who are unable to attend Vajraloka due to distance, age or illness. It has been good to see how effective the medium can be in creating both community and a genuine retreat experience.

The retreat leaders’ community

Although many of the retreats here are led by members of the residential community quite a number are led by others, or jointly with team members. This is important as it brings varied perspectives and influences into the body of teaching at Vajraloka.

We intend to look at ways we can be more conscious and supportive of this community of retreat leaders as they represent a rich seam of experience that can help us contribute to the deepening of meditation teaching in Triratna. We also actively support a movement-wide Order meditation teachers’ circle for which we regularly host online events.

The retreats

Vajraloka meditation retreats are held largely in silence and each one explores an aspect of the Triratna system of practice. We usually have two retreats a month.

From 2023 we are planning to change the format of our programme. Five of the months throughout the year will be devoted to exploring one of the five areas of the system of practice. In this way, we will work our way through the whole system over course of the year. Each month will have a retreat exploring the theme and later in the month there will be a shorter event, exploring the theme in theory and practice with the retreat leaders, looking at why we present it in the way we do.

People will also be welcome to stay here as part of the community for the whole month and to explore the theme within their own practice.

Joining the Team

In addition to supporting retreats, all community members support the running of Vajraloka – contributing, for example, to gardening, maintenance, publicity, cooking, housekeeping, general admin and bookings.

We would like to hear from mitras and Order members, irrespective of gender, who are interested in joining our team and who are able to commit for at least a year.

If you’re interested please email the Vajraloka community with some information about yourself and how you’d like to support Vajraloka at info@vajraloka.org, and we’ll get back to you.

Thanks,

The Vajraloka team

Question of discriminatory policy at Vajraloka

From Tejananda

I’ve been told that during the discussion after Subhuti’s talk on Triratna day, some people commented that people were being asked not to book for retreats at Vajraloka if they could not participate in the jobs rota. 

It is true that we did put this request on our website. This was at the point around March 2021 when, for the first time in a year, we were about to open again, under very restrictive conditions. We believed at the time that with only eight people per retreat, the necessary sanitisation procedures and other jobs that we depend on retreatants doing could not be covered. 

It was soon evident that this wasn’t the case but, inexcusably, we forgot that this provision was still on our website until a retreatant wrote highlighting it. On reading about this, I immediately removed it from the website. 

I apologise for this oversight and any hurt it might have caused. We welcome people who, for whatever reason, cannot participate in the jobs rota. 

Tejananda and the Vajraloka team

Vajraloka Covid-19 Procedures – from April 2022

Please read all this information carefully.

All of our retreats for 2022 are now on this website and available for booking. Under current Welsh Government regulations, we could have the full number of retreat places occupied, however, until the end of April we are limiting it to 15. This means 11 single rooms and 2 large dorms which will be shared by two people. From May we plan to do away with the limit on bookings and return to having 21 places. Clearly if things change we will let people know as soon as possible of any changes.

Please book as normal, paying a deposit or full amount and we will put up a ‘retreat nearly full’ or ‘retreat full’ notice when we’re reaching the number of bookings that we can currently allow. If the retreat you’d like to attend is down as full, please write to info@vajraloka.org stating that you’d like to be put on the waiting list, as there is a reasonable chance that the first few on the waiting list will be offered a place. 

Tejananda and the Vajraloka team

Vajraloka Covid Procedures

Please read all the information carefully.

  • There is always going to be a level of covid-19 risk when mixing with others, so the first thing is to check if you feel able and ready to come on retreat, bearing in mind the well-being of yourself and others.

Before arriving:

  • Please take a lateral flow test before leaving on the day you travel to Vajraloka and bring another with you to use on the second day of the retreat. If the first test is positive, do not travel but let us know you are unable to attend, remain at home and follow government regulations regarding self-isolation.

Travelling by public transport:

  • If you are planning to come by public transport please arrange for someone to pick you up should you become ill with Covid. We will be reviewing this policy and hopefully will be able to drop it as things improve with Covid cases
  • Ventilation: Good ventilation has been shown to be very important in minimising the risk of covid-19 transmission. Therefore, please bring plenty of warm layers with you as the windows will be open even if the temperatures are cool outside.
  • Social Distancing: We will be following any social distancing guidelines that may be in place at the time of your retreat and will inform you of them on arrival. 
  • Hand washing/sanitising: You will need to wash or sanitise your hands regularly throughout the day especially before making drinks and serving food. Hand sanitisers are placed throughout the retreat centre.
  • Face coverings are no longer mandatory in retreat centres. However, we recommend that people wear them when moving around indoors in the retreat centre until everyone takes the lateral flow test on the second full day of the retreat.
  • Please bring several face-coverings with you and hand sanitiser for your own use.

What if I become ill with covid-19 symptoms on retreat?

  • If you develop any covid-19 symptoms you must let the retreat team know immediately, take a lateral flow test and self-isolate in your room. We may ask you to return home.

Government guidance changes, so we will be regularly updating this page. Precautions may be different to what is described here by the time your retreat comes around.

 

 

2022 RETREATS ONLINE

All of our retreats for 2022 are now on this website and available for booking. Under current Welsh Government regulations, we could have the full number of retreat places occupied, however, we’re currently limiting it to 15, which is the number of individual room / spaces that we have. Please book as normal, paying a deposit or full amount and we will put up a ‘retreat nearly full’ or ‘retreat full’ notice when we’re reaching the number of bookings that we can currently allow. If the retreat you’d like to attend is down as full, please write to info@vajraloka.org stating that you’d like to be put on the waiting list, as there is a reasonable chance that the first few on the waiting list will be offered a place. 

Look forward to seeing you in 2022 – or indeed during the remainder of 2021.

Tejananda and the Vajraloka team

The Awakening Heart and the Divine Abodes: Booklet and led sits – Revised Upload

Below you’ll find a booklet and a series of led sits around the theme of the Brahmaviharas and the Bodhicitta Practice. Tejananda and I have edited the talks from an Awakening Heart Retreat we ran together last year and have attached the led sits from the Retreat. We hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

For the Booklet click here: Awakening Heart March 2020

To Download the Booklet and Meditations click here:  Awakening Upload 2 (250Mb zip file)

To listen to the led sits on the website click on the start button. (They are slightly in the wrong order so I have edited the listing on the website to reflect the numbering in the booklet, apologies for the confusion!! Love Rijumitra)

 

1. Introduction and a led Just Sitting – Tejananda

 

2. Whole Body Awareness Meditation – Tejananda

 

3. Whole Body Awareness – Rijumitra

 

4. Led Metta Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

5. Lying Down Body Awareness – Tejananda

 

6.  Body, Breath and the Heart – Tejananda

 

7. Led Karuna Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

8.The Heart Space and the Heart Wish – Tejananda

 

9. One Stage Metta Bhavana – Tejananda

 

10. Led Mudita Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

11. Led Tonglen Practice – Tejananda

 

12. Led Uppekha Bhavana Practice – Rijumitra

 

13. Led Short Tonglen Practice – Tejananda

 

14. Lying down Hara Breathing Meditation – Tejananda

 

15. Led Tonglen – Tejananda

 

 

Annex Build Completed!

Vajraloka is up and running again after our 3 month shut down to extend our facilities. Here are some photos of the finished project.

2020 FULL ILLUSTRATED PROGRAMME BROCHURE

Click on ‘Retreats’ to download the fully illustrated version of our 2020 programme. This marks our 40th anniversary, featuring archive photos from the early 80s through to recent times. The printed versions will be going out within a couple of weeks, we hope.

Annex Build update (Week 9)

Here are the latest pictures of our building project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the main structural work completed, focus has moved inside to the shower/toilet area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another project on going at Vajraloka during this time is the replacement of our leaky mains water feed, about 1000m of pipe from the village, under a river, across a field, up a rocky path and eventually arriving at Vajraloka.

 

 

2020 RETREATS NOW BOOKABLE

Click on “Retreats” to see and book all retreats for 2020 (and the rest of 2019 of course). On that page, you can also download a PDF of the full 2020 programme text – the illustrated brochure will follow towards the end of August.

Annex Build update (Week 5)

The work on our new extension is moving forward, with the structure beginning to appear.

 


One happy side effect digging out the foundations for the new building is that the removed soil is being used to extend Vajraloka’s car-park. Parking will increase from 12 to 16 or 17 spaces, another much needed improvement to our facilities.