Welcome to the 2015 Buddhafield Programme!

Fanfare and Flourish … Let the Ceremony Begin!

Buddhafield Festival: Awakened Awareness

Wednesday 15 — Sunday 19 July 2015, Blackdown Hills, Somerset

The Buddhafield Festival is back! Faced as we are by the threat of climate change, dwindling resources and violent conflict, it is important that we take to heart the need to transform ourselves and engage with the significant problems of the world, not from a reaction to them, but from a higher perspective of insight and love.

Save £17 per adult by buying one of the limited-availability Earlybird Tickets, now on sale through the Buddhafield website.

Green Earth Awakening: Transform, Sustain, Thrive

Thursday 21 — Monday 25 May 2015, Blackdown Hills, Somerset

Connect with the land, learn vital skills and explore pathways towards a sustainable future. Featuring a range of green crafts, social change and ecology workshops. There will be meditation and Dharma talks, giving us the spiritual context to empower us to change. Plus dance, yoga and live music giving us the movement and play to connect as community and engage together. Tickets now on sale.

Buddhafield Retreat Programme

1 — 8 May, Ashdown Forest Retreat: Spinning Yarns, Telling Stories in the Forest

5 — 12 June, Women’s Retreat: Eyes of Love

15 — 21 June, Men’s Retreat: Lightning from the Earth

1 — 6 August, Family Friendly Village Retreat 1: Mind Reactive, Mind Creative

8 — 15 August, Family Friendly Village Retreat 2: Mind Reactive, Mind Creative

25 — 30 August, Big Summer Retreat: Awareness is Revolutionary

7 September — 3 October, Total Immersion Retreat: Meditating with the Trees

So there it all is! You can see the complete retreat programme on the website. Alternatively, you can book using the forms in the printed programme which will be winging it’s way to you (if you are on our mailing list) or to a Triratna Buddhist Centre near you in the next few weeks.

See you in a field!

2014 Retreats and Events Programme

Dreaming the New

“Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, produced by mind.”
The Buddha

Buddhism teaches that all experience originates in the mind and that our skilful intentions lead to positive change. The image of the Buddha itself is a vision of the positive intention to awaken. To find new sustainable models for living, rooted in an ancient relationship with the natural world, we must first envisage the world we wish to see. Together, we must dream the new.

Buddhafield Retreats Programme 2014
Event Dates Venue
Book online through on the website. More about Buddhafield Retreats.
Spring Ashdown Forest Retreat Friday 2nd – Friday 9th May
Long weekend option Friday 2nd – Monday 5th May
Windy Ridge, Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Women’s Retreat Monday 9th – Sunday 15th June Broadhembury, Devon
The Soul and the Solstice Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd June Broadhumbury, Devon
Buddhafield Village Retreat Phase I Saturday 2nd – Thursday 7th August Frog Mill, Devon
Village Retreat Phase 2 Saturday 9th – Saturday 16th August Frog Mill, Devon
Village Retreat Phase 3 Sunday 17th – Friday 22nd August Frog Mill, Devon
Autumn Ashdown Forest Retreat Friday 19th – Friday 26th September, with family friendly option from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st September This event is TBC
The Total Immersion Retreat 2014 Friday 5th September – Friday 3rd October, with a two week option that ends on Friday 19th September Easterbrook, Hittisleigh, Devon
If you are interested in attending either of the team retreats, please contact the manager of the area of Buddhafield with which you are involved
Spring Team Retreat 24th – 30th April Windy Ridge, Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Autumn Team Retreat 7th – 13th October Easterbrook, Devon

Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A Break in the Cycle

Buddhafield has been able to continually reinvent itself because it’s a collective. We’ve been able to seamlessly adapt to changes in personnel because, as one person’s inspiration has naturally moved on, another’s has flowed towards us. This has led to a series of cycles in the shape of the collective that have occurred naturally and steadily, keeping the project fresh and fluid.

We’re now at the end of one of the biggest cycles in our evolution, but this time the transition can’t be seamless. For the first time in 17 Festival years, we feel the need pause, get back in touch with who we are and what we’re about, and from within that space invite a new generation to join the collective. In order to achieve that, we think the wisest move is to not run our Festival in 2014.

Buddhafield only exists and functions because of the ongoing generosity of hundreds of people. Many of the Festival organising team annually give up considerable amounts of their spare time to plan and organise their Area, even going so far as to work at the Festival in their own holiday time.

Clearly this is done from a great love – a fire in the heart – for Buddhafield and we’d like to thank everyone who’s given so much, especially the crew and workshop leaders. This year’s programme of workshops and music is a terrific one, so if you’re at all moved or inspired by Buddhafield, want to know what we’re about, maybe get involved in the future, please come and join us at this year’s Buddhafield Festival.

Letting go at the Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp

Where better to be on a sunny bank holiday weekend at the end of May [23—27; Green Earth Awakening Camp 2013] than in a field in the Blackdown Hills near Taunton with Buddhafield? About 150 people gathered together to share skills and inspiration for living a greener, more connected and more satisfying life. The gathering coincided with Wesak, the celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment and a glorious full moon over the beautiful tree-lined fields.

There was a spacious and varied programme of activities and workshops, meditation, ritual, talks, music, eating together, camp fire, sauna and sun bathing opportunities. From the many craft activities and workshops on offer I explored just a few. I was inspired by a talk on Permaculture, spent an absorbing morning carving a spoon from a beautiful piece of wood, then drew some energy from the earth to dance like a dakini. For me, one of the highlights was a talk by Akasati on The Wisdom of Letting Go Revealed in the Story of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Akasati described how the soon-to-be Buddha, Gautama, had followed a path of deprivation and mortification of the body, before admitting that this approach was bringing him close to death rather than enlightenment. He let go of the status he had achieved amongst his fellow ascetics and instead sought another way. The story shows us, explained Akasati, that we too may do well to let go of ideas, attitudes or views of ourselves that no longer serve us well. This can be difficult, giving rise to fearfulness, but our practice can help us draw courage to change, and reinvent ourselves. Maybe I can start with letting go of small things in order to train myself for a larger letting go? Akasati explained that seeking awakening is about letting go of our experience of a divide between self and other.

Padmasambhava Rupa

The Manadala shrine featuring Padmasambhava

Lying on my back on the grass, gazing up at a blue sky, watching some birds high above, that divide dissolved away for a few moments. I can see the merit of living closer to the earth, away from the concrete and pavements of the city, enjoying the simple absorbing activity of shaping a piece of wood with a knife. Even if I haven’t let go enough yet to walk away from life and work in the city, I am deeply grateful to Buddhafield for giving me the experience of simple and connected living for a few days. This experience was even deeper for me on a Buddhafield retreat that I joined at the beginning of May, when we camped in the Ashdown forest in Sussex. After a week there I felt a strong connection with the trees and the many living beings in the forest, including my fellow retreatants and the ants.

Back home in Norwich, I’m now looking forward to my next Buddhafield experience — the Buddhafield Festival from 17 to 21 July. I hope to see some of you there!

Marisa Goulden, Norwich.

Skill Sharing at EcoDharma

The EcoDharma community are looking for skill-sharers to help develop resilience in:
• Food growing.
• Wild food foraging and preservation.
• Traditional stone building.

They are looking for people to go and stay at their community in the Catalunyan Pyrenees in Spain for up to 3 months. They are particularly interested in people with experience and/or interest in skill-sharing. In return for helping them develop these aspects of their land-based learning centre and community you will benefit from the opportunity to learn new skills and be nourished by spending time living in our wild and remote community setting.

They are hoping to be able to cover your travel costs and some pocket money (and additional finance is negotiable for skilled builders) — pending funding.

Traditional Stone Building

When? September—November 2013, or end of March—July 2014.

What? They are looking for up to 8 skill-sharers to join their building team to renovate a traditional Catalan stone building. The work will be focused at Cal Victor, an old peasant Catalan farmhouse abandoned since the early part of the last century.

This is a vital piece of work in terms of the future of the Ecodharma community as it will provide the main communal space for the community including; a living area, kitchen, office, herb drying room and accommodation.

The project will involve renovation using traditional building techniques and materials, integrated with eco-building and other contemporary elements.

Who? We are looking for people who either:
• have general building experience, or
• are experienced or interested in learning about building with stone, or
• are experienced with carpentry.

Food Growing

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or April—July 2014.

What? They are looking for 3 skill-sharers to support Liam who has held responsibility for growing our food since autumn 2013.

EcoDharma’s organic annual garden was established as four raised beds (each some 30 metres long) four years ago. The long term vision is for it to become a perennial system with vegetables growing below the existing fruit trees. Their forest garden was very recently planted by a wonderful team of volunteers who planted 100 fruit and nut trees this March.

You will be supporting Liam to produce as much food as possible from the annual garden using organic techniques and permaculture principles. There will also be work helping to establish and maintain the fruit and nut trees in the forest garden.

Who? We are looking for people who:
• have plenty of practical common sense
• have some basic gardening skills and experience
• are physically able.

Wild Food Foraging and Preservation, Bread Making and Creative Cooking

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or May to July 2014.

What? They are looking for 2 skill-sharers to join them foraging for and preserving the abundance of wild foods growing in their wild and remote mountain valley.

Throughout the summer and autumn they are blessed with a wide variety of wild fruits, berries and herbs as well as the food they are cultivating ourselves. They need help to preserve as much as they can for the coming year, which will include:
• Harvesting and transforming an abundance of damsons, mulberries, elderberries, figs, pomegranates and blackberries into jams, chunteys and other culinary delights and medicinal tinctures
• Foraging for, for example, rosemary, thyme, sage, yarrow, nettles, lavender and savoury to make teas.
• Baking sour dough bread and experimenting with other baking
• Using produce in the garden creatively, for example green tomato chutneys, pickling vegetables for saur craut etc.

You will join Claire and Nikki who have been wandering the valley discovering the rhythms of the land and turning them into culinary and medicinal delights; and Lou who has held responsibility for the kitchen, food preservation and baking for past 3 years.

Life at Ecodharma

Life at Ecodharma is very communally spirited and is largely shaped by a collective yearning to move more and more towards simplicity, low impact living and just being with the land. All this provides the context for a rich and nourishing learning environment and a strong sense of being very much alive …


Depending on your skills, experience and/or future aspirations you may be eligible to apply for funding to pay for your travel and some pocket money and to reimburse Ecodharma for your food and accommodation costs. There may also be scope for additional finance for skilled builders. We will discuss possible funding with you on receiving your application.

How to apply

Please email claire@ecodharma.com for more information and to request an application form. Please state which role/s you are interested in and please be sure to meet the deadlines below. These deadlines have been set to ensure you are able to meet external deadlines for funders in good time – which vary depending on the placement period.


30 April 2013 for placements starting in August.
30 May 2013 for placements from September 2013-July 2014.

Devapriya: A Scattering of Ashes

On the afternoon of Sunday March 24 2013, the Buddhafield Family Friendly Village Retreat Heart Team, who were on a weekend retreat at Paddington Farm, Glastonbury, scattered a portion of Devapriya’s ashes.

About 20 people climbed to the top of Glastonbury Tor in the bitter cold, to cast a set of his ashes off to the four quarters as per Devapriya’s last wishes. Making their way down to Lokanbandhu’s field below the Tor, the party scattered a few more ashes at the foot of a tree that had lived on the balcony of Devapriya’s London flat, recently planted in the field as a permanent memorial.

Women’s Mitra Study Retreat 2013

I have been asked to write a blog to accompany the photos I sent of the ladies Mitra retreat! Well, I have never written a blog before so here goes…

I have been going on retreat with Buddhafield now for about 6 years and in the last few years I have been doing about 2 a year. I usually have one “for me” and one where I help on the team, this one was for me! I was particularly looking forward to this one as it was in a beautiful medieval farmhouse and had beds! As it turned it the farmhouse was simply amazing! Not only did it have beds but it had a dishwasher too!!! To any hardened camping retreat goer this was an unbelievable luxury that couldn’t quite be taken in!

Women's Study Week

Siddhimala and Lou

Gradually we all started to arrive, 9 wonderful ladies congregated and a community began to form. This was my first “study” retreat and the daily programme was quite full starting with meditation, breakfast, study period, lunch, reflection, led meditation, dinner, study period, evening puja/ritual/meditation. Phew! There were periods of silent reflection amongst this to constructively reflect on the material.

The study material was the four mind turning reflections which are the preciousness of this human life; death and impermanence; karma and its consequences and the defects of samsara. We listened together to the 5 talks by Order members which were an introduction talk and then one on each reflection and then were facilitated in often lively, hilarious discussions about the subject matter. I absolutely loved it! It is a very long time since I have been in a constructive study atmosphere (if ever!) and I found the mental exercise exhilarating, I learned a great deal and each day we had so much to absorb and reflect on. We were all a bit scrambled with overload of information at some stages and Siddhimala (our excellent teacher) was very skilful in directing our thought processes, she was a complete joy to be taught by! Siddhimala was supported by Varabadhri who has a wonderful sense of humour and a keen eye for ritual; she not only supported us all but organised wonderful ritual evenings in true Buddhafield style.

Women's Study Week

The retreatants (minus Lulu!)

After a week I was sad to leave but ready to come home to my busy life. I have brought these daily reflections with me (consciously and sub-consciously) and they have been seeping into my daily practice. The first action for me was to give up Facebook and playing annoyingly addictive computer games. I realised I spent too much of my “precious” time in this life trawling through this medium like a voyeur looking at the lives of others (some I don’t even know!!) and decided this had to stop! I am feeling quite refreshed by this decision and am finding pockets of time already to do things like write this blog which I wouldn’t have had “time” for before.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to the Buddhafield team for this wonderful week in Devon, I so hope it continues next year as I will definitely be coming back, if I am still in this precious life!

Lulu Robertson

First Light in the Garden

As the darkness of winter started to lift and during the coldest week of the year, 40 hardy, wonderful people camped out at Broadhembury to help Buddhafield create our forest garden. This was a funded event by the National Lottery and a massive boost to the work involved at creating this garden. So much was achieve in this week, and all of us at Buddhafield (and there are a lot that have had some involvement in this project at one point or another) just want to say a massive thank you to all those who came and helped.

Here are some pictures:

Our temporary community at dusk.
Putting up the changing dome for the sauna – a perfect way to warm up and get clean on  cold muddy sites!
This site used to be a whetstone quarry and every-so-often  massive holes appear…
On the hill side looking out over the valley that used to be the sea bed!
Dear old oak tree supporting us in so many ways!
A captivated audience.
Prayer flags glowing with the sunset.
Along with the actual forest garden work, Rupadarshin also needed help building his sweet track, a method of crossing bogs/marshland. It crosses a particularly boggy part of the woodland.  A stunning addition to the land here, it has opened up more of the sight for comtemplation. Walk across in the moonlight and feel the ancientness!!
Well earned lunch!

Our next event is the Scared Landscape Yatra, a 6 day walking meditation from Goring-on-Thames to Stonehenge along the Ridgeway. For more information on this have a look on this blog for the write up from last year. To book go here.

All photos by Kirsty Porter

President’s Grateful Words to the Buddhafield Team, Broadhembury October 2011 by Kamalashila

I arrived in Buddhafield at roughly the same age as many of my Buddhafield friends are now – in my mid to late forties. It was the second half of the 90s. I was an anagarika, a kind of Triratna monastic. In my youth I had set up the west London Buddhist centre, Vajraloka (a meditation centre), and a study centre, Vajrakuta, in Wales. I lived there for fifteen years, established myself as a teacher and wrote my book on meditation. I was definitely part of the mainstream of things and a few years earlier had been named by Sangharakshita as one of the thirteen people he trusted with the future of the movement. I’d lived at Madhyamaloka with some of these people for five years, well supported, running a car, able to do whatever I wanted. I often travelled abroad, leading retreats – India, Australia, USA, Scandinavia. I led a privileged existence but I knew something was missing and I wondered if I really deserved it.

Buddhafield had approached Madhyamaloka for a President, an ally and contact with the wider movement. No one wanted to do it. Devamitra, I recall, was the hot candidate, but he didn’t really seem to want to do it either, since he tried to persuade me to take it on. He thought it would suit me. I can’t remember the sequence of events, but eventually I led a retreat or two on the land, and was immediately hooked!

Buddhafield drew me because it supplied a lot of what I missed. Buddhafield changed my life and I’m tremendously grateful. Not to any one person, strangely – though so many people have helped me and I owe a lot to several people, Rupadarshin for example. No, my gratitude is for the opportunity to be in nature. Just to be in nature – to have something to do there, to have anything at all to do among leaves and trees and sky – that’s what’s transformational.

I learned so much about how to teach meditation just from being in the elements – from the special challenge that gives, the special conditions that are so uncompromising and real. I found a way to connect to my deepest feelings and desires, to my humnan heritage, to my ancestors – to the land itself. What Buddhafield gave me in the 90s inspired a completely new approach, led me to doing my long retreat in Tipi Valley; led me, when I lived at Trevince House with Andy, Yashobodhi, Rupadarshin, Satyajit and Abhayajit, to trying to get this land based community going that is still moving slowly to a conclusion after (six?) years. It led me to move to EcoDharma for 2-3 years, which turned out to be a mistake for me, but it was a learning experience I don’t regret. It led me to realise that I no longer needed to be an anagarika to engage deeply with the Dharma.

I am so grateful for all this and I have spent my time moving between Buddhafield and the more mainstream elements of the Triratna movement, always promoting what I see as its values. I remember some of us Order members going and having tea with Bhante some years ago. I remember Bhante himself giving his talk at the Buddhafield festival and me teasing him on stage, saying he’d grown his hair especially for the event. I’ve seen Buddhafield increasingly respected; seen Bhante more recently write about the importance of animism, living a life that appreciates the living presence of non human beings like trees, mountains, badgers and birds. I’ve seen Subhuti write about the importance of the natural world, of a more animistic perspective, as part of extending and deepening the human imagination. This has had little to do with me – Buddhafield’s continued existence has simply made it easier for them to introduce these topics in a realistic, lived manner in the movement. Because it shows the ordinary people in their flats in the cities how they can be in nature. Simply that. There’s a way they can do that… There is a strong need for that. You might also say that the whole development of Festivals has come from that need – from our tragic cultural alienation from nature. Anyway, Buddhafield certainly opens a bright doorway out of the alienation of western industrialised society. I’m grateful for Buddhafield’s existence because in Buddhafield, two things I love come together: Buddhism and Nature. It so happens that these two are crucially important for our present society.
Buddhism coming to the west is arguably crucial for its spiritual survival. People don’t like to appear to exclusivist, and obviously there are great, inspiring ideas and truths that come from other traditions. But to me Buddhism has something that is more alive, critical, practical and flexible. It fully fits our time. It has things to show us about our very nature as living beings that have a capacity to liberate us in ways I’ve not seen yet elsewhere.

As for Nature there’s a need universally to be more in harmony with the earth, with what is natural and not artificial, and to come down from our proud, self made towers of glass and steel. This is not easy for us, and it’s not easy to see how our culture can make this transition. I’m grateful that Buddhafield makes that experiment of bringing Buddhism and Nature together. That is enough for me. There are so many applications of that, I don’t too much mind which we explore. I can see that a community on the land is a logical next step, but what I mainly see is Buddhafield’s many strands of influence in the world. Buddhafield has something truly unique. A few other Buddhist groups have their ecological approach, but nothing as lived and as experienced as this. There are many other non Buddhist groups working in nature, but no other Buddhist based ones, that I know of.

In particular I see Buddhafield influencing the mainstream, as all experimental groups do. I see people in Triratna who would never camp and lie on the ground to sleep, who are slowly coming round and facing up to the needs of nature. 

This is an important change because contact with the land, contact with living nature, dissolves in a positive way the pride and arrogance, the hubris, that characterises our industrialised society and causes so much of the mental suffering that traditional Buddhism also addresses. Contact with the earth gives something very beautiful as it dissolves our arrogance: with its collapse comes a letting go into life that is lovely and which is liberating. To me, Buddhafield is all about that and I feel very proud, in a good way, to be associated with it.

This post has been taken off Kamalashila’s website and personal blog with his permission. http://www.dharmadoor.org/

A Review of the Buddhafield Yatra

The highlight of last month was, for me, the Buddhafield Yatra.  I thought it was totally great, it’s unlike everything else we do in Triratna and I would like to share an account of it with you – if anyone wanted to organize one themselves I’d be more than happy to advise.

In essence a Yatra is a walking retreat; over 7 days 30 of us walked 60 miles, from Reading train station (an easy place to get to for the start) to Avebury (a vast megalithic complex dominated by the great stone circle: a fine place to finish).  It’s a walk, but with a distinctive etiquette: we walk in silence, in single file, each hour of walking beginning and ending in a circle, with any words from the leader (or others, who might, for instance, have a poem to share) followed by everyone bowing to one another.  The leader then leads off in a spiral, walking around the outside of the circle with everyone following.  Behind the leader is a map-reader; at the rear is a backstop who ensures no-one gets left behind.  Two vehicles, a van and a run-around car, stay with the day’s team of about 4 people; they tat-down the previous night’s camp, do the shopping, go ahead with the luggage and set up the next night stop, cook dinner, and welcome the weary walkers as they arrive.  The car is available to pick up anyone who can’t walk the full distance.  The roles all swap around, everyone plays their part.  Morning and evening there’s time for meditation, Dharma talks, reporting-in and Puja or other rituals; the silent walking is of course mindful and an excellent way to practice Bhante’s ‘Four Levels of Awareness’.

All that alone would be great, but Yatras are much more too.  Five aspects especially struck me this time – the landscape, the elements, the rituals, the community, and the journey back in time.   The walk took us along the River Thames and up onto the Ridgeway, a 5000-year-old trackway across the high dry ground of the Wiltshire downs.  Water gave way to Earth, Fire warmed us at night, Air buffeted us as Consciousness walked though Space.  For me this was a delight, a week away from computers simply immersed in the present moment and our surroundings: big skies and big landscapes led effortlessly to ‘big mind’.  It wasn’t all easy: we were fully exposed to the elements, even by Buddhafield’s minimal standards.  At night, the only shelters were our tents and an awning hung off the side of the van.  While walking, the only refuge was to be mindful of (and hang loose to) our experience rather than resist it.  And we had weather in abundance – hot sun, strong wind, driving rain, blue skies, cold nights.  Happily none lasted too long – we could see for ourselves that all things passed, the Three Laksanas held true…

Almost every night we camped at one or another ancient monument or hillfort, giving a wonderful backdrop to a series of improvised rituals.  The first evening we started with the Dedication Ceremony, but thereafter took off into realms of creativity. Morning by the river, with rain threatening, saw a ‘baptism’ by Air and Water, based on a Biodanza exercise; that evening another by Fire and Earth – specifically, building and jumping a fire in the woods.  The next morning, finding ourselves next to Scutchamer Knob, an ancient collapsed burial mound, we surrounded it and one by one approached the shrine in the centre of the amphitheatre-like space holding a Vajra, shouting our names to the wind, declaring our intentions for the day’s walk – to “walk with confidence, sensitivity, etc”.  And off we went…  At Uffingdon, on Dragon’s Hill at sunset, in the howling wind, we recited the Ratana Sutta and met, tamed, and befriended our Demons, this time calling their names into the wind.  At Waylands Smithy, an ancient tomb in a beautiful beech-tree grove, we began what came to be several ceremonies connecting us with our Ancestors – those unknown people who first walked the Ridgeway and built (with stupendous labour) the many special places we were passing. 

We used verses and pujas by Dhiramati, to whom I’m profoundly grateful; he has such a gift with words and poetry.  We began with his verses ‘To the Ancestors’; that night, by a fire in a field under the starry sky, his beautiful puja to Tara and the Elements.  In the wide open space of Barbury Castle Akasaka led us in the Amoghasiddhi mantra and offering our intentions (symbolized by flower petals) to the wind.  By this time Reading train station seemed a million miles and several thousand years away!

Approaching Avebury, our destination, for two nights our only campsite and kitchen was the public car park and grass verge by the track: happily we were undisturbed.  We’d tried and failed to find a more orthodox campsite for this part of the walk; it was clear how we as Yatrikas had in a sense gone forth from the regular world and (rather like the Buddha and his followers) been forced to take our chances night by night. 

Soon after our arrival we embarked upon an all-night vigil inside West Kennett Long Barrow; some 25 of us crowding in with almost 20 staying till dawn. Akasaka and I had drafted a seven-round ritual, recapping and building on the many ceremonies already performed.  Each round had several stages, for instance the first, ‘Connecting with the Ancestors’ consisting of a welcome talk by Sean (a Druid as well as a Buddhist); entering the Barrow; creating a shrine and finding our places; Dhiramati’s ‘Verses to the Ancestors’ and ‘Spirit Song’; the Ratana Sutta and an offering of one sunflower seed each inside the chamber; and finally the Aksobhya mantra and earth-touching mudra. The other rounds were ‘Setting our intentions for the night’; ‘Evoking our potential’ (verses and mantras to Amoghasiddhi and Tara, ending with extinguishing all lights and holding hands in the total darkness); ‘Confession and Acknowledgement of Regrets and Limitations’; ‘Aspirations and Next Steps’; ‘Rebirth and Re-emergence’ (in the first light of dawn); a ‘Retreat Metta and Transference of Merits’ and finally the recitation of Kalidasa’s wonderful ‘Exhortation to the Dawn’ at sunrise at 5.06am.  Followed by the long walk back to our camp and sleep!  The next day saw us end the Yatra by walking the mile-long Avenue into Avebury and reporting-out among the stones – and meeting Terry Dobney, Arch-Druid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, for a formal welcome into and most fascinating tour of the site.

Probably not surprisingly, we were a pretty strong community by this time, even though we’d all spent many hours in silence, simply walking together.  Certainly we’d all lived though an adventure together, ably facilitated by the excellent Buddhafield team.  For me, it was a great combination of a simple and elemental life, a whacky adventure, and a serious contribution to our great shared enterprise of bringing Buddhism to the West, even, to re-imagining the Buddha.  I’m over my word count so can’t say more; but there’s photos of Yatra 2011 — Reading to Avebury on Flickr.