Monday, December 01, 2008

Give someone a retreat!

The festive season approaches and everyone's in present-giving mode. If you know someone who's asked for ordination and you want to give them a gift, why not buy them a Tiratanaloka gift voucher? We can make them out for any amount and they can be used against any of our 2009 retreats! Just ring or email the office and let us know what value of voucher you want and where you'd like it to be sent. We can add a gift message if you'd like it to be sent directly to the recipient.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Working together

We've just finished our annual work retreat and this year 10 women came to work, meditate and study together for a week with members of the Tiratanaloka community. We were decorating in the retreat centre and working in the garden - loads got done! Here are some pictures of the fruits of our efforts. We had fun too (and lots of biscuits - thanks to Vajrasakhi). Next year we'll be running another work retreat followed immediately by a week focussing on meditation - you can come on either or both.

One of our offerings at the end of the retreat was Rachel's poem below:-

The Lakshanas of Room 4

Sweet satisfaction
Of peeling paper
All things are impermanent
We say as if in apology

Peeling paint!
We nervously peer through the door
The imperfections become our friends
What truths can these walls teach us?

Nearly done!
Just doors and skirting to go
Paint lumps you are insubstantial
And yet you refuse to budge

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Running for it

I'm just coming up to the last few days before my first half marathon - the Great North Run on October 5th. Unfortunately I've had a cold over the last week so haven't done much last-minute training but I'm hoping to pull a few extra miles out of the bag on the day. I'm also hoping to raise some money for the bursary fund here at Tiratanaloka, which is used to give financial help to women to come here on retreat. If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so online here. If you've already sponsored me then a big thanks - it's the thought of that money that has stopped me backing out a few times!!! I'll let you know how it goes.
It's wet and windy today so I get a chance to wear my new showerproof, windproof running top at last!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A goodbye

On 17th September we very sadly waved goodbye to Vajradarshini, who has left Tiratanaloka after almost 6 years to live in Spain with Padmadharini.  During her last week we had an outing to the circus (preceded by a darts match in which she pulled off an astounding finishing throw) and an evening of charades which included items being acted out by a small kangaroo.  Life is certainly varied and fascinating!!  The good news is that Vajradarshini will be running retreats at various venues over the next year - you can see what she's up to on her website.  We'll miss her.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amritamati joins the team!

The newest member of our team, Amritamati, arrived in June and has been on retreat almost constantly since then! You'll be able to find out more about her on our website soon, but in the meantime, here's what she has to say about her move to Tiratanaloka so far:-

"I joined the team here at the beginning of June, having left my job as a mental health nurse for older adults a few weeks earlier. I’ve lived in London since 1986 (on and off) and so it’s been quite a move coming to the countryside of Wales, the rain, the sheep and the relative quiet. ..I say ‘relative’ as there is the constant sound of the river, the birds, the rain (much of the time) and the occasional RAF jet zooming down the valley. So far I love it.

Vajradarshini will be leaving in a couple of weeks and I will replacing least her spot on the team. I think her Wabi Sabi vibrant energy will not be easily replaced. So, I’m in a period of being ‘trained up’, being in groups with various members of the team and learning the ropes, from the material we study to driving the lawnmower, from ordering food to tackling the computer. I’ve dived in with two Transcendental Principle retreats and the Reflections on Reality retreat too. The retreats have been very enjoyable and I find myself often thinking how blessed I am to be living here. It’s a full-on way to live, but I couldn’t wish to be doing anything other at the moment. It’s been great meeting the women who come here too and I look forward to getting to know more of you over the years."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Just Giving

Just a short post to let you know that if you'd like to donate to our bursary fund, you can now do so online via the Just Giving website by clicking here. This is great for one-off donations as Just Giving can also reclaim the gift aid for us (for a small charge) if you are a UK taxpayer.
Recently, a mitra from South Africa came to the UK just to attend one of our retreats and it was great to be able to give her some help to do this. She's hoping to come back next year and we're hoping we can again offer some financial aid. The centre in Johannesburg is the FWBO centre that is farthest from any other centre!

To show we're serious (!) about raising money, Candraprabha's going to be taking part (note, the cautious wording!!) in the Great North Run (a half marathon) in October and is hoping to raise some money through sponsorship. If you want to go through every aching mile of training with her, you can see what's happening on her blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Let go in July!

For those of you not on our mailing list (you can sign up from the home page of our website) here's some information about a weekend we're running from 18-20 July for women who've asked for ordination and dharmacharinis. Sridevi and Ratnadharini came up with the idea in a tea shop in Ludlow! (or so the story goes). You can find details of how to book on the website. We'd love to see you there.

A non-rational weekend at Tiratanaloka!

We usually think of the spiritual life as gradual development. However, very early on,

at the first anniversary celebration of the WBO in April 1969 Sangharakshita gave a talk entitled Breaking Through into Buddhahood. He pointed out that to really practise we have to realize that the Dharma is revolutionary, that it has to transform every aspect of our lives.

Bhante said that we have to break through four things especially. They are: negative emotions, psychological conditioning, rational thinking, and time-sense. There has been a lot of emphasis in the movement on the first two but not so much on letting go of our dependence on the rational mind and clock-time. So we thought it would be really interesting and fun to have a weekend exploring these.

We shall do all sorts of crazy things – without ending up in a total chaos! And there will be a strong presence of Vajrapani whom Bhante introduced in his lecture.

“This fearful, or this wrathful, or this terrific form, represents the forces of Enlightenment breaking, even bursting through the thick dense darkness of ignorance and unawareness.”

You can find Bhante’s lecture on Listen to it, and come to a fun weekend at Tiratanaloka, very beautiful in late summer. It might just revolutionize your practice!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our new handbook

Just a quick post before I go on solitary to say that the first version of our new Tiratanaloka handbook is now available to view or download from the website.
You can access it by clicking on the 'our handbook' link on the left hand side of our home page at

The handbook aims to answer some of the many questions women have about asking and training for ordination into Western Buddhist Order and outlines the part that Tiratanaloka plays in all of that.

We'd welcome any feedback on the handbook so do email us at if you have something to say about it or leave a comment on this blog posting! In time, we hope to produce a printed version to send out too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's happening with the bursary fund? by Vajrasakhi

About the bursary
The Bursary at Tiratanaloka has been undergoing some rethinking over the last year or so, and we are pleased to report that it is now looking quite healthy! We want it to become a resource that will directly benefit the order and help spread the dharma to more and more countries and people.

A brief history of the Tiratanaloka Bursary
Two separate funds had been started in response to specific needs; the first for a woman from Estonia, who was having difficulty paying for retreats and travel. Later a general fund was set up for women from overseas, this was often used for women from countries like Mexico with poor exchange rates, for whom retreat and travel costs here were very high. We decided to amalgamate the two in 2007, and extend the remit so the money could be used by women in this country as well as abroad.
This year we intend to move all our income from standing orders (about £2,400 a year) to support the Bursary.

How do we decide who to give the money to?
When we get a request for help from the Bursary we usually ask about the financial circumstances and suggest alternative ways of paying for retreats. Retreats can be paid for in instalments, and some women can fund raise around their centre. If it is not possible to do this and there is a genuine case of financial hardship we ask how much of the cost can be covered, and give Bursary money to fund the rest if we have it.
We also suggest that someone who has received help from the Bursary could think about ways of publicising it or raising money for it in the future.
We do not attempt to prioritise the different financial situations women are in, but do keep in mind our sisters from poorer countries for whom the exchange rate and travel costs can be an big obstacle.

Facts and figures
We gave a total of £1,680 during 2007. This is £947 more than in 2006, and enabled us to help 11 women come on retreat here, who would not have been able to otherwise. Our funds presently stand at £1,500.
Some people are giving standing orders to the Bursary fund: even as little as £2 a month adds up. Others give a bit extra when they book on a retreat themselves. We can sometimes claim Gift Aid back from the government for these donations, increasing their value by more than a quarter.

What I like about this is that it is a step towards a true Dana economy, and a recognition of the significance of Tiratanaloka as a resource for the women's wing of the FWBO.
The team here support ourselves on £45 a week and with retreat and health allowances this adds up to a maximum total of £3,740 a year each. We manage to keep food costs at around £3 a day per person, and do our best to keep other costs low, so that we can run retreats here as cheaply as possible.
We are a self contained charity: FWBO Sarana; and like all the other FWBO charities we have no central funding body on whom we call for financial help.
If people can give money to our Bursary we get more women on retreat here, we help women from abroad, from outlying situations with no sangha, women who are younger or have dependants to support; and in the end these women will be joining this precious Order and helping to spread the Buddha Dharma. It's a win win situation!


Please see our web page on Bursary donations at, or contact: Snail mail: Aberclydach House, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7YS. Tel: 01874 676482.