Sunday, May 13, 2007

a long weekend in the country with pomegranates, deckchairs and beetroot

On May bank holiday weekend, Vajradarshini and I hosted another 3 night 'weekend in the country' which was delightfully sunny both in weather and atmosphere.
Delicacies prepared in the kitchen spilled out onto the lawn, when a few friends helped prepare the pomegranate fruits. These were going to be served that evening with the homemade indian style ice-cream and fresh figs that followed an array of curries dhal and pickles. Others looked on from the comfort of their deckchairs.

red was a bit of a theme with roast beetroot served for lunch with a thyme and shallot rissotto served with fresh english asparagus.

The idea of the weekend is for us to offer an open space for teams, groups, friends to come together at Tiratanaloka. Its the fourth year we have done this now and each time we hear the same appreciative comments which has inspired us to keep doing it. This year a A GFR group from Bristol came. They said how wonderful it was to be able to meet together at Tiratanaloka and have the time to go for longer walks, and chill out. In the morning they met in one of the study rooms we had set aside for them. They were looking at the laksanas. They want to book again for next year. There was also a meditation slot at 8am (so still time for a lie in !!) and each evening someone offered to lead a puja.

Vajradarshini and I did all the cooking and with the help of the community did all the washing up too!!! which meant there was more chill time for people to enjoy all the books in the library, go for extra long walks in the green welsh hills or just sit in the garden, full of flowers and birds. Vajradarshini and I love to cook and come up with new recipes and ideas of flavours and aesthetically pleasing foods. Seeing how relaxed everyone was, it was joy to host the weekend.

We will be hosting another one next year probably around the same time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kalyanasri on the recent retreat for private preceptors

I've just finished a very good womens' Private Preceptors week, here at Tiratanaloka. This is the third one we've had of these and they get better and better. There were 22 of us in all and we had daily discussion groups talking about any issues people wanted to talk about as well as the Ordination Ceremony, and Asanga's Ethics: covering only a small part of this text. We also had 3 personal talks about people's experience of precepting from Ratnavandana, Dayalocana and me. These were honest, moving and quite strong talks, all three of us having various amounts of experience in being a private preceptor and various stories to tell. In the afternoon meditation slot one of us led through different visualisation practices: Wrathful Vajrapani, the Manjughosa Stutti sadhana and White Tara, with a White Tara puja in the evening. It is very good being led through other visualisation practices: to get a taste of other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas other than our own, as one day we'll be leading people through some of them ourselves. The women who are still in the consultation process felt they 'caught' a lot from us more senior preceptors and much appreciated having Ratnadharini and Maitreyi here as the Public Preceptors, with their perspective and experience of the College. It seemed an invaluable week for helping to 'train' new preceptors, even though, as I said a lot of the experience was of the 'caught not taught' variety. Also very lovely getting together with old friends.

The week was harmonious and uplifting, seeing how being preceptors has informed and deepened our own practice of the Dharma. Well worth doing and well worth coming to.
Photos by Cheri Tamminen

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Heart of Ordination

This year we ar running two new retreats looking at what is at the heart of ordination.
Why join an order ? Why join this order ?

“......although the act of Going for Refuge is an individual act it is, at the same time, an act that takes place within a wider context.....because of this it is able to reveal itself more fully”......sangharakshita

The first of these retreats is

17 - 24 March

led by Vajradarshini Candraprabha Sridevi and Vidyalila
and Sridevi will be leading yoga

We will be looking at.....

The order as a living process and how it changes every time someone is ordained.
Taking our place in the Order is itself a practice. What might this mean?

What does it mean to be a free individual yet join with others in a network of friendships as an order ?

What is the relevance of the private and public ordination and what does it mean to take the precepts from our preceptor ?

Why be altruistic?
Do we have a feel for the Bodhisattva ideal ?

How do we engage with our imagination and myth so that our practice is held in a wider context and doesn't fall into spiritual materialism ?

Another retreat on this theme is 3 - 12 August with the same team