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.
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.
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. Building up to five months over two years, January and February 2023 each will be devoted to exploring one of the five areas of the system of practice – Integration and Positive Emotion. In this way, we will work our way through the whole system over course of 2022 and 2023. Each of these months 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 email@example.com, and we’ll get back to you.
The Vajraloka team