Exploring ‘Embracing Simplicity’

Buddhafield’s Danaraja explores what our 2017 theme ‘Embracing Simplicity’ means for him, as a practising Buddhist.

Danaraja

I find it useful to view simplicity on three levels. Firstly there is external simplicity. This involves removing from one’s life anything that may hinder one’s ability to engage in Dharma practice. Obvious examples would be hunting animals or selling arms. Other examples might be simply giving some activities up so that we have more time for meditation and reflection, more space to open the heart to what is.

Secondly there is the internal aspect. To be able to give up craving and aversion would dramatically reduce mental fabrication, leading to a refreshingly simple way of being with our experience. Imagine having no mental proliferation! We are told that our experience would be infused with generosity and the joy of selflessness.

Thirdly we can approach simplicity from the standpoint of wisdom. Through practicing the Dharma we can have a life free from the entanglements of confusion and ignorance, a life dedicated to the liberation of all beings.

One way to approach these three aspects, to embrace simplicity, is to serve. This is training in the compassionate side of wisdom, the altruistic aspect of enlightenment. At Buddhafield we try to set up conditions for people to practice the Dharma and free themselves from the torments of greed, hatred and delusion. We dedicate our lives to this. This means we must live simply, frugally even, and yet with this simplicity, with this apparent ‘giving up’ what is left is a sense of abundance and joy. The simplicity embraced at Buddhafield is very rich, involving service to the Three Jewels, community living, right livelihood, regular meditation and devotion, friendship and the invitation for the world to hear the Buddha’s teaching that points to liberation.

Buddhafield Festival 2012 photographer Mim Saxl

Dana or generosity is the aspect of practice found within the Buddha’s teaching that, I think, best encapsulates this idea of service and at the same time leads us through the three stages of simplicity I’ve outlined above. Dana is a practice that is prone to underestimation, however it is present throughout the Buddhist tradition and exists on many levels. Firstly we can develop the spirit of open-handedness through practicing the second precept “With open-handed generosity I purify my body”. Dana is also the first perfection of the Paramitas (Perfections of Wisdom), setting up conditions for ethics, patience, energy, concentration and wisdom to emerge. This is the practice of a Bodhisattva, where generosity is conjoined with wisdom. It is also one of the four Sangharavastus, which are concerned with the creation, development and strengthening of the spiritual community. Through these Dana practices we embrace simplicity by giving up unskillfulness which causes us suffering and distress, complicating our lives and we move towards wisdom, while also benefiting others.

So Dana is about non-attachment to I, me, mine. With true generosity there is no sense of gift, giver or recipient. It is where wisdom and compassion fuse into one path. Dana it could be said is both a cause and a fruit of embracing simplicity, it is the open road to wisdom and compassion, it is the awakening of the heart. The Triratna Community at its best is not just on this path but is this path. If we take care of our personal practice through embracing a simpler lifestyle and allowing space for the truth of the Dharma to flower and giving up craving and ignorance; and our collective practice of serving the Dharma, we can offer an alternative perspective to people. The world is burning with greed and hatred, fueled by fear and ignorance. People need, we all need, confidence in a perspective that comes from generosity, love and wisdom. We can each contribute to this revolution. By embracing and living the great renunciant’s teachings we can offer a perspective revolutionised by wisdom and compassion for all beings.

 


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Working and practising at Broadhembury

Our forthcoming Broadhembury work week takes place between 19th and 25th February 2017, and is open to all to come help for a week, a day or somewhere in between!

Ruth Phillipson tells us about her experiences of working at Buddhafield’s Broadhembury site.

This last weekend I helped hold a work weekend at Broadhembury. Buddhafield owns this site, 28ish acres of woodland, on the side of a hill in the Blackdown Hills. It is a beautiful mythic site, but is also known to be quite a hard site. It’s down a muddy bumpy track, and kit must be wheelbarrowed over a bridge, and even got up a hill, to be set up. It’s worth the work though: it’s wet deciduous woodland, with secret paths and hidden epic trees. To get to the shrine tent you have to climb a hill and then walk along a track under mighty beeches, and past bright gorse, until you reach a clearing, with a great beech, nicknamed grandmother beech. Underneath its branches the big geodesic dome is set up. Years of practice has accumulated in that clearing and many rituals have taken place grouped round the big beech. When I arrived there last weekend and climbed the hill to greet her, I felt like I was greeting an old friend. Retreatants have lain along her limbs, whispered confessions and secrets into her mossy skin, and left offerings in the fork of her main branches.

 

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Though it is a site that takes a lot of work to set up, it also gets under your skin: you fall in love with it, with the trees, and the mud, and the ever rushing of water always playing along in the background. One day you can live life in a literal cloud, and then the next bask in bright sunshine. On the work weekend we experienced both!

The epic mission started on Friday morning, when Beth and I met at the Buddhafield community just outside Crediton, and drove to the few different places Buddhafield uses for storage. We filled her van with a dome, first aid kit, blankets, cushions, flooring and myriads of useful bits and pieces that weren’t on either of our lists, and set off down the A30. Already it felt like a mythic journey! I left Buddhafield a couple of years ago and went to live in Scotland at Dhanakosa, this event would be the first one I had done since then, and it felt really good to be working in a group, with another woman. We stopped in Honiton for food shopping and a few last bits and pieces, and then braved the bumpy track. It was a bit hairy, but we got up to the hard standing, a concreted place, which we have traditionally used for live-in vehicles.

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We were greeted by a building site. Satyajit has been at Broadhembury for a couple of weeks already, using a mini digger and dump truck to create a flat terrace which we can use for a car park, and also to dig out ditches beside the track, and do some base work on the track itself. The plan is to put stone along most of the track to make it usable for cars to get up, we arrived right in the middle of that, before the stone, but after the digging out, so it was pretty muddy!

 

This is the view from the hardstanding, with Satyajit’s big blue van on the left, and a track heading into what will be the car park in the middle.

Broadhembury

 

Beth and I left Satyajit to his digger, and carried onto the field next to the hard standing. We put up a shrine/sleeping dome and, just as we finished it, more people arrived: other community members, a friend of theirs and later on another ex-Buddhafielder, Leif. We had dinner together in Satyajit’s bus, which was to be our main base for eating, cooking, and generally hanging out, and did a dedication ceremony, heading to bed excited about the weekend, about working together, and about making this bit of land easier to access.

 

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We woke to a beautiful clear sunrise, pink edging along the horizon, and a cold chill to the air. It was so quiet, apart from the sound of water. We gathered sleepily in the shrine to start our day, and after breakfast and a check-in, Satyajit took us on a walk around the land. It was so good to see the extent of our land, to see little bits that I hadn’t seen before, and to hear some of the history behind what has been done to different parts. There have been many plans for Broadhembury: from growing vegetables and willow to having a forest garden. Currently, the main focus is to make it easy to hold a retreat there, easy for people to access this wonderous corner of the world.

 

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The rest of that day, and also Sunday, was spent focusing on the track. Undergrowth grows thickly along the sides of the track, brambles, and honeysuckle, rhododendron and hazel, all grow along the fence on one side and the ditch bank on the other. The ditch is sometimes almost covered over with years worth of fallen branches and leaves. Our aim was to clear away some of this, making the track more passable. Saturday afternoon was an experience of Broadhembury at its best. The sun shone brightly, and we all stripped layers off and turned towards the light, enjoying the heat. We slowly worked our way up the track, digging out bramble roots with cries of satisfaction, snipping back honeysuckle and gathering all the cuttings into the van to be burnt. As it grew dim we headed back to the van, for dinner, and then a puja.

 

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Later that night it started to rain. And it rained, and rained, and rained. Sunday was a day of wet work, of eating biscuits endlessly, and wet clothes and raincoats hanging everywhere in the van, of getting covered in mud and smiling, and of leaning into just letting the elements be. Here is where practice comes. It is so easy to smile and be generous and happy when the sun is out, but when it starts raining, and there is still work to be done, and your feet are wet, and there are 7 of you squeezed into a small van, that is where practice starts, and continues. I definitely had a few momentary meltdowns, but generally, I think being in a group, working closely together helped us cope with the rain. We were able to find joy and laughter in what we were doing.

 

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Image from a previous retreat in 2011

 

On Monday morning we gathered ourselves, wet trousers and jumpers, tents and blankets and, after the transference of merit, we all headed off to our homes, and onto other adventures. The ground has been prepared for the next work retreat (19th to 25th February 2017) when we will be working on the hearth area.

 

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Images by Kirsty Porter and Vidaydasi


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Could you meditate for a month?

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Every year, Buddhafield holds the Total Immersion retreat, a month of silent meditation in nature, with the option to stay for only two weeks. It’s one of the most beloved events on the calendar. There is meditation teaching, ritual, silence and wood-fired hot tubs, and everything takes place under canvas or the open sky.

 

For most people, the idea of sitting quietly in a lush meadow as birds chirrup in the trees, is a pleasant one. Something you could easily spend a day doing, but the notion of doing that for a month, in silence, can be daunting.

 

The silence at Total Immersion is deep, but not cold or restrictive, there are other ways to communicate and the wonder which unfolds as your vocal chords, and then your mind, quiet down can be astonishing. Thoughts become clearer; things and people often become more beautiful; you may notice sounds you wouldn’t have, like the timbre of a stream as it chuckles over rocks. The silence can become a quiet contentment and warm appreciation that you share openly with others.

 

Laura came on the retreat last year, for the first time and said, “I was initially anxious about going into silence, but I actually found it took away a weight of anxiety around speech. I felt far more connected with myself, with those around me and with nature. It certainly also gave space for difficult emotions to surface, which needed to happen.”

Total Immersion

It is true that, given some space, the emotions we prefer to avoid will probably take their chance and emerge but this doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. The team are highly experienced in creating supportive, joyful events with real spiritual depth and many people find being in nature to be instinctively supportive; for our bodies it can feel like coming home. This, along with the positive, welcoming atmosphere, helps create a safe place for any pain or sadness to arise, without being too overwhelming. It often flips and can be greatly freeing, growing into an expansive feeling of love. There are also regular meditation reviews which offer guidance, support and more personalised teaching.

 

Arthabandhu, who has been on the retreat many times, said, “I love all the elements of the Total Immersion Retreat: one whole month of practice out in the open air, silence, community, and rituals in the midst of nature. By the end of the month I feel wonderfully refreshed, enlivened and inspired. The whole thing puts me in touch with something magical that helps me go back to day-to-day life with a greater sense of purpose and meaning.”

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This year, the theme of the retreat is Mindfulness: Bridge to the Beyond, based around one of the Buddha’s primary teachings on the subject, the Satipatthana Sutta. Both meditation teachers have decades of experience on the subject. Vajradevi has been meditating for 31 years, and studying this particular teaching for 15 years – much of her practice is based around cultivating mindfulness. Kamalashila has been teaching meditation for over 40 years and led the very first Buddhafield Total Immersion retreat 10 years ago.

 

Mindfulness may appear simple but has incredible richness, particularly when practising in nature. Moksatara, from Sheffield, said, “The simplicity and freshness of being outdoors and camping was so revitalising and grounding, and very much informed the meditative states and quality of awareness that I was looking to tune into.

 

“Bathing in the brook (post-hot-tub!) and watching the steam rise up from the water whilst the sunlight streamed down; meditating under a tree by the Buddha and seeing a kestrel hopping about the grass just metres away are just some of the moments I’ll never forget.”

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Are you tempted? This retreat is open to all experienced meditators, all you need to do is book. First-timer Laura’s advice is: “Bring layers! I’d encourage any meditator with Triratna to go for it.”

 

Total Immersion runs from Saturday 6 May-Friday 2 June, with the option to attend 6th-19th May. Book here.
New to meditation? Find other Buddhafield retreats and events here.

Words: Sarah Ryan, with thanks to Arthabandhu, Laura Harrison, and Moksatara
Images: Saccavicaya and Padmapani
Poster: Liz Verde


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Best of Buddhafield 2016: Jayaraja’s review

Buddhafield Chair, Jayaraja, gives a review of his 2016 Buddhafield season


18 December 2016

The trees bare except for a solitary leaf, perhaps reluctant to let go, the rest fallen and turning to mulch, I sit in an oak wood in the border lands of England and Wales. It is three days until the solstice and I have some time alone, to be still, to reflect and to wonder. More vivid than many, the seasons this year have been rich and colourful.

 

Winter

Visit to Frog Mill
On a Buddhafield men’s study week we take a day out to visit Frog Mill where we are joined by Mike, Rupadarshin and Beth. The flooding had washed the bank away, the river now strewn with fallen trees. Fortunately, the bridge, which had been lifted from its site was wedged close by. Working together we heaved the bridge back into place. We cleared some areas of the wood, dragged the carcasses of substantial tree trunks out of the water and stacked them to dry, ready to heat the hot tubs and showers in the summer.

Work week
Sleet blew fiercely as a small crew worked in a dilapidated old barn mending canvases, and preparing new ones. The wind was whistling under the tin roof and rattling the huge barn door wedge closed with heavy rocks. I felt a tad guilty as the hardy team got on with their work I was passing through on my way to a planning meeting. Though a few weeks later I was in the fields by the barn as we setup a make shift camp for the winter work week. I was impressed by the number of volunteers who ventured from the warmth of their homes or vans to join us, cleaning kit, waterproofing tents, painting vans, and repairing the horsebox sauna our mobile hot water unit.

 

Team Retreat
The team retreat at Frog Mill, with ice still on the tents in the morning, was a mix of training, planning, land work and just gathering the clan, as well as welcoming new crew, to prepare for the months ahead. We built up the banks by the bridge, weaving willow into them for strength and to hopefully avoid losing the bridge in future floods. More wood was fetched, cut and stacked, repairs to the domes and training in how to put them up. We had a day’s training on food hygiene and safety, our professional trainer excited to be in a field, having spent 20+ years in the military, more commonly he was in restaurants and corporate settings.

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Team Retreat at the start of 2016

 

Spring

Yatra sacred landscape walking retreat
We met by Southampton train station, loaded our bags into the freshly painted (though frankly still quite battered) van affectionately known as Peggy. We walked down to the harbour and caught a ferry over the estuary to Hythe, and began our walk through the New Forest. Each day we would walk between 10 and 16 miles. Meantime the team drove ahead with our kit and set up a kitchen and toilet facilities. On the first day of walking the forest was still in its bare winter guise. Each day as we progressed, the buds on the trees and the bluebells opened a little more. We walked in silence stopping every hour or so where we formally ended the session and sat enjoying conversation, quiet reflection or the beauty of the land. After a few days, I noticed my relation to the land changed and I felt more a part of it, part of life on earth, not separate from it and a kinship with our ancestors who have walked this planet and heard in their hearts a sense of mystery and awe. I felt connected to the refugees walking to escape the horrors of war. I felt a sweet sadness imagining them with children and the elderly and little of the comforts we enjoyed, like suitable clothes, footwear and warm food waiting for them. We walked the ancient paths to Stonehenge and then on to Avebury stones. By now the buds had become fresh green leaves. On the final morning, as we gathered in our traditional circle amid the stones to check out, two buzzards soared above and were soon replaced with a paraglider who came to land right next to us.

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Silent walking on the Sacred Landscape Yatra, under majestic trees


Total Immersion
There was a short break after the Yatra as we set up for the Total Immersion retreat, a month-long silent retreat and one of the highlights of the Buddhafield season. In amongst the trees at Easterbrook we sat in meditation, or sat in silence watching the trees and stars. We held rituals in the woods. The teaching from Kamalashila and his team was excellent. It is hard to find words for the beauty and richness of quiet mind.

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The Buddha rupa in the field at Total Immersion 2016

 

Summer

Glastonbury Festival
I had never been to Glastonbury festival before. Much as I love the Buddhafield festival I didn’t imagine Glastonbury was my kind of thing. Two hundred thousand people in muddy fields: yes it was muddy, the worst on record some say. I was going as it is part of Buddhafield’s main activities. We have been there for over twenty years, teaching mediation and serving vegan food. It did make me think our modest festival of 3,500 is a small undertaking. Whilst there, deprived of sleep, we managed to serve around a thousand meals a day and taught some four to five hundred people to meditate in our cramped space. I recall seeing people with tears in their eyes after meditating and expressing their gratitude.

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Buddhafield Cafe at a muddy Glastonbury 2016

 

Buddhafield Festival
From Glastonbury we drove to our own festival site, green fields and a good night’s sleep. In the morning, having packed the tents away wet we had to immediately get them up again to dry. Two weeks before the Buddhafield festival we were a dozen people most recovering from the challenges of Glastonbury. Gradually more crew and volunteers arrived. Each evening we would have an activity, a couple of short talks on the values that had brought people to these fields, perhaps meditation or a ritual or sitting around the fire singing and talking. This year’s festival was one of my favourites, the site looked fabulous, the music was great and I loved having so many people come to my workshops both Mindful Communication and Skilful Flirting, I look forward to 2017.

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Jayaraja (and Ellis, aged 7 and a half) leading a Mindful Communication workshop at Buddhafield Festival

 

Autumn

Green Earth Awakening
I was away in August, so missed the Village retreats and the Summer Open. I returned for the Green Earth Awakening Camp. It was magnificent to once again be in a field with a team of people creating something of significance and beauty. Feeling the wind and hearing the trees standing beneath the stars. Wow, what an event! I was responsible for the rituals and was supported by Ruth who helped create a magical central shrine. The Green Earth Awakening is all my favourite bits from the festival brought together. Lots of spontaneous and interesting conversations, brilliant workshops, play, singing, dancing, discussion, idealism and crafts. If I had to pick a moment from the year, it was doing the main ritual on the Friday night, in a large circle, we danced, we chanted mantra, made offerings and we watched in awe as a beautiful full moon rose through the trees. Once again I felt a kinship with the ancestors as we try and rekindle a sense of the sacred, a deep sense of connection and reverence for life.

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Shrine at Green Earth Awakening Camp

 

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After three years of wandering I have now moved into a house, a modest rented place in Devon, to help establish a new Buddhafield community. The vision is to create a strong base to enable us to do more and to also go deeper in our own work and transformation, to live more fully with respect for each other, and the planet.

2016 may not go down as a great year for humanity or the planet, the loss of great artists and performers, atrocities in Syria and further afield, the election of a demagogue in America and continuing exploitation of the earth’s resources. I am reminded of lines from Auden’s poem September 1939:

 

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

 

May your life be blessed with friendship, meaning and love. May you heart unfold to its great potential. May I see you in a field in 2017, and may we cultivate the roots and buds of transformation both of ourselves and this suffering world.

Metta

Jayaraja

 

Buddhafield Retreats and Green Earth Awakening Camp are open for booking for 2017 


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Best of Buddhafield 2016: Green Earth Awakening

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2016’s Green Earth Awakening Camp was a huge success. We had fantastic talks from Mac Macartney, Satish Kumar, the Ecodharma team, Kamalamani and Mindfulness4Change to name just a few, some of which were recorded for you to enjoy again.

Members of Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement joined us and here is what they had to say

“Following a very generous invitation to be part of this annual convergence of engaged Buddhism we had four precious days of exchange and exploration. This was an amazing opportunity to share our work, to make new connections, network and hatch new plans.”

The atmosphere was perfect with sunny days, cosy nights and fire side dancing to a full moon. We had Hedgespoken provide their unique traveling theatre stage with story-telling and beautiful music.

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There were powerful rituals such as building a life cairn memorial to extinct species and our closing ceremony. For this, we joined together in a vast circle to close the event while Oak Clan Forge blacksmith Simon Summers buried a sword forged from metal found on the land as a gratitude to past and future resources.

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Next year’s Green Earth Awakening will take place from 20th to 24th September 2017, with the theme ‘Embracing Simplicity’. Bookings are now open – see you there!

Text by Rosie Lancaster, GEA Coordinator
Photographs by Sagaravajra


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Total Immersion Retreat – Interview with Kamalashila

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Image: Padmapani 2011

On 20th May 2016 Buddhafield are holding the annual Total Immersion month-long silent retreat, ending on 17th June. I caught up with Kamalashila to ask him a little more about what the retreat is all about.

How did Total Immersion retreats come into being?

The original Total immersion retreat was held at Dhanakosa [Retreat Centre in Scotland] led by myself, Vessantara and Viveka in around 2005. I thought it would work in Buddhafield and we started the following year. I have led them ever since.  Some years ago Paramananda got interested and we started alternating years. 

What are the benefits of retreats that are held in a natural setting?

If you live in nature, nature teaches you how to be natural.   We come out of a highly artificial world into retreat. There are few straight lines and flat surfaces in nature, and it is not designed for convenience.  This means we have to be much more aware even to live a simple life.  There is an element of freshness and spontaneity that is unique.  All these things generate the very best conditions for meditation reflection and generous behaviour – with the right teaching setup I think retreats in nature can even be better than a dedicated retreat centre. 

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What effect does spending such a long time in silence have?

There will still be verbal teaching, questions and ritual chanting, so the silence is not absolute.  But… Peace. Clarity. Confidence. Love.  Silence doesn’t mean we don’t communicate or look at one another.  We get to know one another deeply by relaxing in each other’s company. 

Are there teaching elements to these retreats? How do the retreat leaders support people’s own self-reflection process?

There’s a main daily teaching and question-answer session, as well as smaller, more off the cuff teachings throughout the day — plus of course one-to-one practice reviews for everyone. 

 

Do you have any advice for people who are considering coming on the retreat but haven’t done a silent retreat before or haven’t spent such a long time on retreat before?

For most practitioners, longer retreats are easier, simply because there is more time to settle in and to relax with everyone in the community.  But it’s also possible to come for just the first two weeks.  

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Image: Seán Quigley

What surprises you the most about the Total Immersion retreat?

That every year, Padmapani manages to upgrade even further his already incredible Naga Shrine. When we first started it was a little booth on a plank next to the stream. Last time I was there it was big enough for the entire retreat to do a puja right in the river itself – and the shrine itself was extraordinary. Perhaps not actually surprising (I know Padma very well) but definitely amazing.  

Even after all this time leading these retreats, and with so much meditation experience, do you still benefit yourself from the Total Immersion retreat?

I always learn new and deep things about the Dharma from being in a fully natural environment over time.  Nature is humbling and grounding as well as being incredibly beautiful, and this shifts your whole perspective — first on the elusive ‘self’, and then on the nature of existence. Getting to that takes time though. You need to be living in one place long enough to be part of the environment — then you start to understand.  Usually we are external observers and that doesn’t teach us much that’s useful. What one learns is not information – which we already have plenty of – but about what we are and what our place is. 

You’ve said a little about the difference between Buddhafield retreats and retreats at Centres – can you say any more? i.e. What does Buddhafield do differently and why is it worth people engaging with this different approach?

I think the previous answer applies here too. It is about being immersed in nature to the point where you realise you are part of it. And Buddhafield crews know from long deep experience of living on the land how to support everyone to do that. Their expertise and ingenuity is very impressive.

What do people tend to experience moving from the Total Immersion retreat back into daily life? What benefit does an extended period of meditation such as this have on people’s day-to-day life in the modern world?

People will vary but most will experience a lasting boost to their clarity and confidence. Leaving the beauty of retreat may be a bit challenging for some, but even that is educative and in the long term will make our lives more authentic, natural and real. 

Bookings are now open for our Total Immersion retreat for both two week and month-long options.
The retreat starts on 20th May 2016, with the two week option ending on 3rd June and the whole retreat ending on 17th June.


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February 2016 Newsletter

Happy New Year to all our Buddhafield friends!

Though it’s cold outside, it’s time to start thinking about warm times and friendship, so here is a little update on our exciting plans for the coming year!

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Buddhafield Festival – Tickets now available
We are very excited to let you know that booking is now open for this year’s Buddhafield Festival! The Festival runs from Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July, near Taunton, Somerset. The theme for this year’s festival is Courageous Compassion.
Early Bird Tickets have now sold out, but it’s a great time to get in early and bag your festival ticket – at £140 for the whole five-day festival, it’s a steal.

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Festival Workshop Applications – Now Open
We want to let everyone know that applications to offer a workshop, a talk or an independent space at the Buddhafield Festival are open from the 18th January to 28th February 2016.

If you have ever thought that you wanted to share your skills in a workshop, give a talk on your experiences or create a unique space at the festival, here is your chance to offer it. If you know someone who you think would be a great workshop leader, let them know too. Just go to the website for more information or click on Workshop Leaders and tell us all about what you want to do.

We are really looking forward to hearing from you and co-creating another wonderful festival together in 2016.

If you are interested in applying to offer treatments or a therapy, please note that applications for the Healing Garden open on 1 April 2016.

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Volunteering at Buddhafield Festival and Buddhafield Retreats
Buddhafield is supported by a wonderful team of volunteers, whose generosity and warm-heartedness breathes life into all our events. We are looking for volunteers for our Retreats programme and for our Festival.

Volunteering is a wonderful and rewarding way to experience Buddhafield Festival, and we would love to hear from you if you are considering volunteering. We will be looking to put together a set of effective teams, working in a spirit of friendship to put in place everything necessary to make the Buddhafield Festival happen. This will include volunteers for the Festival Cafe, as well as all other practical parts of the festival. Please look at our Festival Volunteers page for further information.

Buddhafield also runs a full programme of retreats through the year, which are an opportunity to take a break from everyday routines and to experience oneself anew in the stillness and beauty of nature. On our retreats we look for inspiration in the Buddha’s teaching and in the natural world, while living simply and kindly in a supportive communal environment, and volunteers are a key part of this. If you would like to volunteer at a retreat please go to our Retreat Support page.

Wishing you many blessings for a wonderful 2016!

The Buddhafield Team


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May 2015 Newsletter

Buddhafield Festival 2015 15-19 July

This year Buddhafield will be basing its programme around the theme of “Awakened Awareness”. Programme details are starting to emerge; check out the highlights below and book tickets on the Buddhafield website!

The Dharma Parlour


Without the Buddha and his teachings there would not be a Buddhafield Festival, and there certainly would not be a Dharma Parlour. But what exactly did the Buddha have to say and how do his teachings apply to us, in our time, with its highly demanding conditions? The Dharma Parlour aims to offer answers in the context of a lively, varied and abundant programme of talks and events by experienced teachers from the Triratna Buddhist Order and other traditions. Hightlights from this year’s programme will include:

  • Kamalashila, What on Earth is Awareness?
  • Chris Cullen, Chocolate, Pandas and Electric Shocks: the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
  • Caroline Brazier, Whose World Are You In? The mindfulness practice of awakening to others.
  • Billy Frugal, Awakening Awareness In Community.
  • Kids Mindfulness with Daisy.
  • Kamalanandi, Parenting as Dharma Practice.
  • Amaragita, The Power of Enquiry.
  • Study with Dhivan.
  • The Work that Reconnects.
  • Jayaraja, Mindfulness, Sex and Drugs.
  • Vimalasara, 8 Steps to Recovery.
  • Dharmashalin, Awareness is Revolutionary.
  • Upayavira, Meditation for Parents.
  • Yashobodhi, Maitridevi, Bhutan Nuns, Eco-Dharma, Kara Moses, Huw Wyn, Amida Trust, fireside Dharma storytelling.

Workshops

We are proud of our rich programme of workshops, available for nearly 12 hours every day in at least 5 venues. Access to all workshops is included as part of a ticket price and there’s a workshop to interest everyone! You could try:

Ecstatic dance and Living Love workshops with Jewels Wingfield. Talks from Mac Macartney, founder of Embercombe, on indigenous wisdom. Soulful Singing with Mahasukha. Danceitation from Jayagita. Comedy via The Edinburgh Fringe: “Kindness” from Sam Brady. Earthdances, pan-African dance with Denise Rowe. Sweat lodge. Biodanza. Tai chi and qi gong. Silent Disco 5rhythms in the woods. Archery. How To Talk to Kids. Conscious Speed Dating. Laughter workshops. Shamanic journeying. Queer Tea Party. Beat boxing. Barefoot running. Wild writing. 5Rhythms. Hugging workshops. Adult games. Hula hooping. Naked Rhythms dancing.

Land and Permaculture Area

In this year’s Land and Permaculture Area we will have fantastic permaculture teachers, gardeners, smallholders, and community dwellers sharing a host of skills for living off-grid, low impact and in tune with the seasons. We’ll have foraging, fire lighting, bird language interpretation and natural beekeeping, to name but a few. Plus a wide range of green crafts showing you how to carve wood, metal, stone, glass, and weave willow, fleece, and flax.


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April Newsletter

Just 7 Weeks To Go Until Our Green Earth Awakening Camp!

Thursday 21 — Monday 25 May 2015. More information and booking on the website, but check out the workshop line up so far:

* Jamie Catto * The Mindfulness Exchange * The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research * Landworkers Alliance * The Permaculture Association * Schumacher College * Tinkers Bubble * Landmatters * The RSPB * The Woodland Trust * The Really Wild Forest School.

* Peg Loom Weaving * Wayne’s Woods Spoon Carving * Wood Turning * Blacksmithing * Basket Weaving * Willow Domes * Drop Spindle * Felt Making * Clay Play, Pottery & Pit Firing * Primitive Crafts * Rocket Stoves.

* Earth Dances with Denise Rowe * Contact Improvisation Dance * Qi Gong * Partner Yoga * Rhythms & Body Percussion * Harmony Singing * Mbira * Storytelling * Rumi Poetry * Nature Writing * Focusing.

* Permaculture Design with Aranya * The No-Dig Allotment * Orchard Management * Forest Gardening * Foraging * Planning for Low Impact Development * Harvesting & Preserving * Skills for Setting Up Co-ops, CLTs & Land Projects * Mac Macartney of Embercombe.

* The work That Reconnects * Nature Connection * Growing Self Love * Compassionate Communication * Eco-Feminism * Art and Activism.

Phew! All this in 5 days … plus a daily timetable of meditation, Buddhist teachings, body work and healing area. And don’t forget to unwind in the wood fired sauna, hot tub and hot showers. Oh, and of course there is the fantastic collection of acoustic musicians and storytellers that will be gathered by the fire every evening. And the solar cinema showing inspiring films for our current times. Plus delicious organic food from the Buddhafield Café, The Outer Regions Café and The Peasants Lunch Box Café

Total Immersion: Meditating With The Trees

Paramananda & Maitridevi; Monday 7 September — Saturday 3 October 2015 (first two weeks Monday 7 September — Saturday 19 September). More information and booking.

A retreat for lovers of meditation, and for those who want to learn to love meditation. We invite you to join us in creating a silent meditation community in the magical meadows & woods of Easterbrook, Devon.

This month-long retreat is a unique opportunity to deepen practice intimate with the beauty and teachings of the natural world.

Living a life stripped down to its essentials we become sensitive again to the language of the birds. As our inner chatter falls away, our minds and hearts open to each other.

Paramananda has been leading retreats for thirty years and has a distinctive style that stresses body and heart as keys to opening to the nature of reality. He is the author of several books on meditation.

Maitridevi has spent 20 years living communities & working in team-based right livelihoods She has a love of meditating in nature, and of engaging the imagination through myth & ritual.

Dharmamrta will be teaching Scaravelli yoga. The ethos of this way of working is to soften and open into a greater sense of relaxation and ease.

Women’s Retreat: Eyes Of Love

Dayajoti, Maitridevi & Sukkhasiddhi; Friday 5 June — Friday 12 June 2015. More information and booking.

How we regard ourselves and the world determines what we see. Looking with eyes of love we can live with a sense of connection, openness and clarity. The programme for this retreat will be full of exploration through meditation, ritual, movement, myth and storytelling as we seek to bring the insight of love into our gaze. There will be plenty of silence too.

We will be holding this retreat in the magical woods of Broadhembury, where we will be living, practising, and working together as a community. (This site does need a level of fitness that can cope with uphill walks to the shrine area).

Two New Events In Sussex

Buddhism and the Path of Parenting

Weekend 5 — 7 June, open to adults and children at Spoods Farm, Sussex. With Ketuhridaya, Tejomala and team. More information and booking.

Join us in the beautiful fields and woodland of Sussex for a Buddhafield family weekend retreat. We will explore and celebrate the path of practising Buddhism and parenting. We will engage in Dharma practice, talks, and discussion as well as physical games for all ages, green craft with woodwork and other activities. This gathering offers a real opportunity for us to connect with the beauty of the land and each other practising together with our families.

The Mandala of Deep Purpose

Week 8 — 14 June 2015, open to all adults at Spoods Farm, Sussex. With Indrabodhi, Sagaravajra, Panya and team. More information and booking.

Direct experience leads us to encounter life in its fullness. When experience is filtered through personal ‘stories’ rooted in fear, anxiety and resistance we are no longer alive to the present moment. When our decisions come from an awakened awareness we begin to live a life that aligns with our ‘deep purpose. ’ Come and join us as we turn towards our experience through meditation and a symbolic journey to the centre of our personal mandala, supported by spiritual friends and the healing power of nature.


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