A blog written by the team at Taraloka
For you early birds here's a link below to our 2014 programme:
Bookings will open for 2014 on the 1st October, when we're also hoping that our new website will go live. On the new site it will be possible to make bookings and payments for retreats.
Programmes will also be coming through the post in the next couple of weeks.
I've just taken over from Jo on bookings, so I look forward to being in contact with you by phone and e-mail as well as meeting you when you come to Taraloka.
Since the National Order Weekend finished on the 2nd of June, we've had an unexpectedly long gap between retreats here at Taraloka. During this time the community and operations team said goodbye to Sanghajoti who's headed off on new adventures; we wish her well in all she does.
This extra space has been a fantastic opportunity for some fairly big maintenance projects to go ahead, and Viryajyoti, Singhamati and I have had time to catch up and get on top of things in the office and I have have made some headway with work on the new website which will hopefully be up and running in October. It also meant we could support Ginny to invite a group of women to go over to help with the setting up at Adisthana.
We're just getting this retreat centre set up again for the Brahma Viharas retreat which starts this Friday (incidentally there are 3 last minute cancellation spaces left on this retreat so do contact me if you'd like to come along), so I thought I'd take this time to let you see what's been going on.
Ginny and Anne spent a sunny and rainy week beautifully rendering the car park wall. They had to put tarps over it when it was sunny and tarps over it when it was rainy!
For some of you, our biggest and most exciting news might be that we've had the first half of the track repaired and smoothed over with Tarmac. It looks gorgeous and Viryajyoti and I have been delighting in the smoothness when we ride our bikes on it and I'm sure your cars and the taxi drivers will be very happy!
At the same time the four young women staying with us for the Young Women's Project (more about that later) have been tirelessly sanding, preparing and varnishing outside window frames in the retreat centre; hopefully protecting them from another winter of frosts and snow.
Sun is out, the retreat centre garden is looking gorgeous and we hope to see you here soon on retreat.
Written by Gem Millar
I first went to Taraloka 4 years ago on an Introduction to Mindfulness weekend. Then as soon as I got back I booked the next one. Taraloka has always has a special place in my heart, right from that first weekend retreat. It was where I first discovered Triratna (or the FWBO back then) and where I discovered the magic of the Dharma. I have met just some of the most amazing inspiring women there – from leaders, organisers, and other fellow retreatants. I have also had loads of great personal moments of realisation, overwhelming metta and clarity.
A couple years ago my finances weren’t very stable and I was invited on a work retreat. I jumped at the opportunity - as it was free, not even a booking fee. I didn’t realise until I went on it that it was so much more than that. I realised what I was giving to Taraloka. I think I went initially for selfish reasons – I hadn’t been for a bit, and needed to ‘go home’ to be reminded of what’s important and this seemed like a good idea. What I actually felt was a real sense of generosity. I was being a part of the many, many hands that made Taraloka, Taraloka.
Last year I went on the summer work retreat, and my reasoning for going on it was that ‘I am much better at working than meditation’ which to some degree is still true. However, that’s not just why I go either. The 2012 summer work retreat had the theme of Ratnasambhava and all the qualities he has, things like abundance, and generosity. And it really became clear what my place in the work retreats was. For me, work retreat mean helping Ginny keep the maintenance going (as she says, she IS the maintenance team). It is making sure Taraloka is there for people who might not have discovered it yet- just like me before 4 years ago. And it is giving to the magic of Taraloka itself.
To give you an idea of what ‘work’ looks like, I have helped paint the outside of the community house - where Ginny and the other residents of Taraloka live – including Ratnasuri – who was one of the founding members of Taraloka, and has lived there longer than I’ve been alive! She offered me a Jaffa Cake last time I was there, while I was out painting the wall outside her room! I have also stained or painted many of the numerous benches at Taraloka to keep them going for longer. And I know others have planted many, many little trees towards the canal, and on the other side of the canal, as well as landscaping a path through the woods. (Gem has now also painted the main toilets in the retreat centre Editor).I have also oiled the outside and painted the inside of the Tara Cabin. I did this chanting the Tara mantra most days, which leads me onto the Buddhist side of the retreats. Ginny is excellent at leading us smoothly from ritual dedicating the space we will be working on, to meditation to work. It all feels very smooth and seamless, and there is always good grub to keep our strengths up thanks to the wonderful cooks too!
One of the things I LOVE about Ginny’s work retreats is she is very specific and clear about she would like to be done (so there is no room for me to do something wrong). She also has cool rules – like the ‘No Resentment Rule’ – so if you don’t want to do something you can just say, and the ‘Compulsory Tea Breaks Rule’ to make sure we all rest now and then.
SO! If you have been touched by the magic residing in Tara’s Realm and wish to give a little something back, and have the motivation and energy and are able, why not come on a work retreat?
Work retreats are Intermediate Level retreats, meaning those coming need to be already familiar with puja and the two meditation practices taught in the Triratna Community. Those coming on a work retreat also need to be in good mental and physical health.
In December Taraloka bought 13 new beds and mattresses, and gave away to a local charity its 13 old beds and mattresses.
Singhamati heard about the Olympic Games selling everything off after the big event, instantly thought of Taraloka and bought 13 mattresses. So the mattress you sleep on next time you come could have been slept on by Jessica Ennis! Not that that’s why we bought them of course – they were quality mattresses at very good value!
The old beds dated from when Taraloka first began in the 1980’s. Back then, they had been handmade by some women volunteers to provide basic furnishing so that retreats could run. 27 years later, they were getting rickety and squeaked when you turned over in bed at night. The new bedsteads don’t do this, I’m pleased to say, and the new mattresses don’t sag in the middle!
I was also delighted that we managed to find the old beds a good home. New2u is a Wrexham based not-for-profit organisation which supplies donated furniture to those in need. Many women leaving women’s refuges to begin new lives, often with children, come to New2u for help with furniture. Bed bases, they told us, are very much in demand.
So when you come on retreat, hopefully you will have a more comfortable night’s sleep, and some families who wouldn’t have had beds to sleep on now do.
May you all have a happy and fruitful New Year!
Piccies to follow...
Blog written by Stella (Mitra from Shrewsbury):
It was my great fortune to be invited recently, by Ginny, Satyajyoti, Jill and Kate, to attend a Taraloka work retreat to help her plant a *few* trees. I have had an endless fascination for woodlands and forests since childhood; there is something almost mystical and other worldly about them, a sense that anything might be possible there. Of course, the Buddha attained Enlightenment in the woods, a fact that has given me, as a relatively new practitioner of Buddhism, a new spiritual quality to add to my love of the forest.
I should mention that the reason we were all gathered here was to help Ginny realise a vision she had been harbouring for the shaping of the landscape around Taraloka; a vision of tree-lined paths and secret woodland shrines, of places of peace and reflection. This vision also included a plan to reclaim a ‘lost’ part of Taraloka on the opposite side of the canal!
So the work retreat team of 12 women from around the country, set out to plant 800+ trees donated by The Woodland Trust. The trees were a mixture of native species such as oak, ash, rowan, birch, cherry, beech, field maple, together with hedge shrubs such as hawthorn, blackthorn and dog rose. On a practical note the planting of these trees would also help the water levels at the eastern end of the site which make the ground very boggy under foot and at present little used. From the first day there was a tangible feeling of creating change in the landscape.
A candle-lit ritual in the ‘woodland-to-be’ kicked off what would be one of the most enjoyable and spiritually rewarding, if physically demanding, weeks I have ever experienced. With an emphasis on ‘work as practice’ the digging, planting, staking, tube-ing, cape-ing and pegging was mixed with meditation and reflection on the wider purpose of the work. One thing that became clear during our week together was the very real sense of joy in our work being for the benefit of all beings but in particular for the benefit of those who would visit Taraloka in the years to come. Those who, long after we are gone, might walk through the woodland paths, listen to the wind in the leaves, stumble across a hidden shrine and, maybe, just maybe, attain Enlightenment under one of the trees!
At Taraloka there used to be a Buddha rupa out in the long grass, beside a footpath, now it sits within an emerging wood and I can’t help but smile about that.
7am – Time to wake up. Where am I? Ah, Taraloka! And a smile spreads across my face. Throw on some clothes and head to the kitchen to make a cuppa. Step outside in the early morning sun to do some Qigong. The geese fly over my head…
7.30am – Community shrine room for meditation. The sound is amazing when we all salute the shrine together – such strength in our voices. I feel grateful for this opportunity to be here with these amazing women. We chant the refuges and precepts before meditating – our own practice in our own time.
8.15 – 8.30am – I leave the shrine room and get properly dressed for the working day.
8.30am – Breakfast in the Community kitchen – I make porridge for 2, 3 or 4 of us, depending on who is there at the time. Some mornings it is already made for me, which feels such a treat! I check that Ratnasuri has all she needs out on the table, and read the message book. Someone needs picking up from the station – I could do this! I love getting out in the car…
9am – anyone ‘9 o-clocking’? Time to gather in the lounge for our morning ‘check-in’. Could be just 2 of us, or up to 4 or 5 people. When it’s nearly my turn my heart begins to race and my palms sweat… I don’t like speaking in groups much.
9.30am onwards… time to start work, but not before clearing the breakfast dishes. I open the dishwasher to find it full – do I empty it or leave it? A perpetual question in the Community kitchen…
I look at my list of jobs and / or check-in with Ginny re work for the day. I don boiler suit and rigger boots (thanks Des!), and off I go, relishing the chance to do some practical work. My work as a volunteer was varied and involved a mixture of maintenance and grounds work, interspersed with time in the Retreat Centre kitchen chopping veg and cooking. I’m glad I wasn’t in the office (sorry Jo!).
11am – “Shall we stop for a cuppa, Ginny?” Ratnasuri is in the middle of her morning coffee ritual as I make myself a cup of tea. Shall I have one or two bagels today? All this physical work makes me hungry! A quick chat with Saddhanandi, then back to work… hanging out a load of wet towels on the washing line outside on the way.
there is so much land to look after at Taraloka…
1pm – time for lunch back in the Community. I collect a loaf of bread from the Retreat Centre freezer on the way, and more toilet rolls! Mealtimes are rarely solitary and I enjoy this. A chance to find out what others are doing, and if anyone needs help with anything. I find a note from Singhamati asking if I can unload the laundry from the car and put away in Retreat Centre. I check the current retreat timetable and find a slot when I can do this unseen (i.e. during a shrine room activity). I wash up and leave the kitchen tidy for others.
2pm – Back to work… via the garage to break up a pile of cardboard boxes I’d spotted earlier.
Time to go to the station. I check if anyone needs anything while I’m out and I’m given a list for the supermarket.
A quick cuppa, then back to work…
5pm – finish work for the day, unless I am the cook for a Retreat or cooking for the Community. A chance to have a lie down or go for a walk, or check personal emails… and go and talk to Smokie bunny!
6pm – supper together in the Community. I love this part of the day, when we all come together around the kitchen table. We all clear up together (except for whoever cooked the meal), and go our separate ways…
7.30pm – time for Mitra Study (thank you Samantabhadri!) or GFR Group or Community Night. Other evenings were spent watching a DVD, going for a walk, talking on the ‘phone, or just hanging out. The wild geese fly overhead again, in the opposite direction from the morning….
10pm – time to think about going to bed, tired from another day at Taraloka, yet feeling content and nourished from being here. The evenings went really quickly, and I often didn’t get to bed before 11pm, but that’s another story… and not one for the blog!
If anyone reading this is thinking of being a volunteer at Taraloka, I say “do it!” Taraloka provides such positive conditions unlike anywhere else I know of. Yes, it was intense, and yes, it was hard work, but it was also very nourishing. I felt all my needs were being met and that I could really grow there… I wish in some ways that I had asked to stay longer. I loved the sense of sharing with others – work, meals, practice, life… and the joys and challenges that brings. I was continually impressed by the women living there and learnt quite a lot, both about myself and relating to others. And after 3 months of almost daily check-ins, sometimes twice in a day, I can now speak in a group with almost no anxiety!
A big heartfelt thank you to all the Taraloka Community for my 3 months living and working with you all. May you all continually grow and be inspired by the Dharma!
Information about Volunteering at Taraloka:
Taraloka runs on the generosity of lots of women! Including long term community members, short term volunteers, Order Members leading retreats, volunteer cooks, retreat organisers and volunteers on our gardening and work retreats!
If you have been on retreat at Taraloka a number of times and are familiar with us then you could consider volunteering on one of our retreats either cooking, organising, gardening or helping with maintenance work projects. If you would like to give to Taraloka in this way then please either chat to one of the team at the end of your next retreat or email Jo in the office with your details, interests and skill.
The Taraloka community is a practising Buddhist community and is made up of women who are members of the Triratna Buddhist Order and those who are in training to join the Order. So, if you are a Dharmacharini or have requested Ordaination into the Triratna Buddhist Order and would like to volunteer to live and work in the community, for a short or longer period, then please do contact us.
Please note that due to the practical nature of the work here at Taraloka all volunteers do need to be physically fit and able to work full time.
Hello it’s Singhamati at Taraloka here. This year for the first time I was given the pleasure and responsibility of putting together Taraloka’s retreat programme and I’m pleased to say it went to our printers this week. You should have a copy in the post to you soon, but for those of you keen to start 2012 planning, Jo has worked hard uploading the programme to our website this week; a job she has also done for the first time this year.
I would love to tell you at length about why I'm excited about every retreat, as I am really pleased that with the whole programme that we are running, but if I did we would be here a LONG time - so here's a small introduction to some of them.
In 2012 there is something for everyone with our usual range of retreats; including introductory weekends, open retreats and retreats for those of you already practising in the Triratna community.
For our open retreats there are new themes, including Surfing the Worldly Winds and The Space to Choose, as well as classic retreats, such as Awakening Loving Kindness and One Moment at a Time, which is now in it's 10th year!
I am really pleased to say that we are continuing the theme of longer meditations retreats with three 9 day retreats for women who have asked for Ordination and two 2 week intensive meditation retreats; one for Order Members and one for Mitras.
I am excited to be welcoming Dayanandi back to Taraloka to lead the 2 week Mitra meditation retreat, as she was chairwoman at Taraloka for many years, during which time she led numerous retreats here. More recently Dayanandi, as a Public preceptor, supported the 3 month Ordination course at Akashavana in 2009 and 2010 and so is well qualified to be leading this longer retreat!
The Order Meditation retreat, led by Vidyamala and Saddhanandi, is an opportunity for Dharmacharinis to practise together, focusing on the qualities of 'mindfulness' (Satipatthana Sutta) and of 'opening the heart' (Brahma Viharas). This retreat is an extension of the 2 week Mitra Intensive retreat that they led in 2011.
For those of you familiar with Triratna practices we are running some new themes as well as the old favourites, such as Brahma Viharas and our Spring and New Year Meditation retreats. After the success of 2011 we are repeating the Bodhicaryavatara retreat - a precious opportunity to study this challenging and inspiring text.
New themes in 2012 include Milarepa and the Lakshanas and Dance to Freedom, the opportunity to dance the system of meditation! I am also excited to be leading the Being with Buddha retreat and have the opportunity to share my love of and devotion to the Dhammapada and the Buddha, whilst helping you to explore and deepen your own connections.
The team were fabulous: with Ginny and Desiree running the two work projects; Kate German heading a team in the kitchen to provide vital sustenance and Kate Arrowsmith and I teaching Tai Chi and Meditation, giving talks on the Buddha, Ethics and the Three Lakshanas (in the context of the Buddha's Threefold Path), as well as doing the organizing and occasionally popping out for more supplies (both food and equipment) between us! The team also gave personal talks which were really well received and very moving for all.
And so to work... The painting of the community house is well underway, with all the complicated scaffolding bits finished:
And the woodland path looks gorgeous. The women worked really hard digging out the nettle roots and banging in the pegs with an extremely heavy sledgehammer:
There was wonderfully harmonious atmosphere throughout the whole time and some of the women said that these two weeks had been the most important and inspiring of their lives so far. Most of them live in countries where there are currently no Triratna Centres (such as Slovakia, Czech Republic and Italy), and although they'd read or heard about Buddhism, they'd had no opportunities to learn meditation or experience it for themselves. It felt very weighty and significant for us to be giving that opportunity and experience here at Taraloka.
What a wonderful way to spend the summer.
We have women arriving from Slovakia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Czech Republic and even South Korea to come and live here, work and learn about Buddhism and Meditation. They are mostly aged between 18 and 25 with one 33 year old and one of 50.
Ginny will be leading a group to paint the outside of the community house (the scaffolding is going up as I type) , Des and her group will be building woodchip pathways through the woods, Kate G will be showing her group how to cook our fabulous vegan recipes and talking about nutrition and Kate A and I will be holding that all in the context of a retreat with meditation, puja and Tai Chi of course!
It's the first time we've ever run a project like this at Taraloka, so we're all very excited and hope it goes well.
We received beautiful and moving "motivation letters" from VAP and below are some of the reasons why the women have chosen this project:
"...it's unbelievable luck to find a place to learn how to cook (vegan meals)"
"..I could learn about meditation and Buddhism and it would be one of the most incredible experiences to develop my life skills"
"... I realized it was exactly what I was looking for , as it directly offered the opportunity to approach to a completely different culture"
"My family members are all Buddhist but we could not get the chance to study Buddhism"
"I would enjoy living in a community and learn more about Buddhism by meeting Buddhist women"
"I'm interested in the status of women in Buddhism"
"I'm vegetarian and I really want to be able to cook fully vegetarian meals"
"...language skills could improve greatly.."
All this means that I will be running a skeleton office over the next couple of weeks. Please do send in bookings and emails as usual but bear in mind I will deal with them when I can - it won't be daily. Do check the website to see if there are spaces available on any retreat that you are interested in.
The office phone will not be covered during this time and there will be a message explaining this. If you leave a message on the answerphone I will respond when I can.
I'll be taking photos and we'll let you know how it goes...
The hay barn is STILL smoking 5 days after the fire started but the flames have died down.
Many thanks to Parami for the fire shot. Our telephone cables were on the half-telegraph pole just to the left of the fire and being licked by the flames!
If you need to contact the office please call the emergency mobile between 12 and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 07774 007 133 or just send in your booking form and booking fees as usual.
I cannot access the office email system at all, so if you've emailed and your query is urgent, please call the mobile above between those times.
If you need to speak to anyone in the community please call them on their own mobile numbers
I'll update on here as soon as we're back online...
Bookings are now well underway for all the retreats for 2011. We've finally moved over from pencil and paper bookings to a spreadsheet and I have had a great time training up Saddhahadaya to process the bookings ready for covering for me while I'm away in India on Pilgrimage in February. Saddhahadaya arrived as a volunteer for the Christmas retreat and is here until mid-march. Perfect timing for us!
[singlepic id=126 w=320 h=240 float=]Ruth Cheesley from Virya Technologies has just spent two days here with me teaching me how to use Wordpress to update our website and discussing the possibilities for the website of the future. She stayed in the community following on from our second fabulous Young Women's weekend led by Singhamati, Vajratara, Pasannamati and Karunadhi. I am extremely grateful for her patience and quick and simple answers to my many questions. It's also been great fun learning a brand new skill with her.
You can now see whether a retreat is nearly booked up or full directly on the Retreats 2011 page; we've made our contact details, how to book and how to get here easier to find and I now feel ready to make further changes as and when needed. Please do give us feedback on this site and we can take it into account when updating.
IMPORTANT NEWS: from now on all cheques are to be made out to "Taraloka" as our bank account name has changed
[singlepic id=137 w=320 h=240 float=]
During July, I was on a ten-day European Chair's Assembly at Vajrasana Retreat Centre in Suffolk. It was lovely to be with all the European Chair's again but my mind was often with the people at Taraloka as I was aware there were some big changes happening during that time.
One special change was the arrival of Singhamati (who used to be called Lindsay) after her three month Ordination course at Akasavana. I saw her for about fifteen minutes before I drove off to Vajrasana. In that short time I saw her shaven-headed radiance and her pleasure at being back at Taraloka surrounded by friends, she looked very happy.
Singhamati's new name means 'lion-like mind', and it's a good name for her. Over the years, I've watched her grow into a spirited woman who is capable of taking on a lot of responsibility and leadership, as well as having a strong sense of integrity and kindness towards others. A great boon for Taraloka and for the Triratna Community in general.
Another change that happened whilst I was away, was that Kulaprabha left Taraloka and moved back to Glasgow on Tuesday 27th July - it was an important occasion for all of us!
Kulaprabha lived at Taraloka for eight years, through lots of change and challenge. She became a very familiar figure for women who came on retreat here as she led and supported many retreats during those eight years. She was a creative retreat leader, establishing new retreats and thinking through ideas that she believed Taraloka should offer women in terms of meditation and Dharma practice. She also visited many centres giving talks and running weekend events.
In the Community, she was always popping into my room with a new idea or a particular question that she wanted to talk through, and I'll miss her energetic engagement with various projects and her willingness to support me in my work as Chair.
Looking back over the last eight years, I can see how she bought an intelligent creativity to Taraloka, with an
ambitious vision that has pushed the whole project in new directions. One such direction has been the recent change from oil-based heating and hot water to a system now fuelled by solar power and wood pellets. I'm still getting used to the miracle of having water heated by the sun! Amazing!
When Kulaprabha left the Community she was presented with a gift: a special digital camera connected to a bird nesting box. It was a complete surprise to her and she loved it - it was in fact a perfect gift for her as it bought together her love of gadgets, cameras, and bird watching. I hope her new life supports her in many hours of witnessing eggs hatching and young birds feeding and all that sort of thing, whilst in the comfort of her own room.
At Taraloka, we all wish Kulaprabha well in her new life, she's contributed a great deal to this project and the effects will continue to be appreciated for many generations.
'British Buddhism Today' - Munisha from Video Sangha, Vimeo
Munisha is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order and one of the people who run the Clear Vision Trust, a Buddhist audio-visual media project and a UK registered charity. Clear Vision are based on the top floor of the Manchester Buddhist Centre, UK. Munisha and others who work there see their efforts as an expression of Right Livelihood, the fifth limb of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. They maintain the Triratna video and image archives and provide a steady flow of new and archive material for our Buddhist movement worldwide.
In the early 1990s Clear Vision began to work on a series of highly acclaimed video packs for Buddhism. Their video-makers joined forces with Padmasri and Adiccabandhu, two very experienced primary school teachers to produce Buddhism for Key Stage 1. Stage 2 followed in 1994 and remains a best-selling DVD.
Having produced 7 DVD packs for 4-16 year-olds in schools, they've now moved into the world of online interactive materials. Even more significantly, they've begun work to ensure young people at home and temple can enjoy Buddhist teaching materials as good as those in schools. It's Clear Vision policy to represent what is core to most Buddhist traditions, and a range of Buddhist traditions, practices and views. In this they have the specific agreement of Sangharakshita, founder of our own tradition, Triratna.
Want to find out more about Clear Vision? Click here (a new window will open in your browser)
You can watch other Triratna videos on Video Sangha. (a new window will open in your browser)
To the Edge (Alderley Edge, Cheshire)
We take the train, one sandwich, one poem each
and stomp, the silent physicist and me,
past footballers' mansions, gnarled roots, car-park,
with a few walkers gazing at emptiness,
and trudge to the vertiginous edge.
We clamber over prehistoric boulders
to the solitary carved wizard stone above
a real world of corn, brown - and green.
Our minds open out over the sheer drop,
track a bird soaring up into blue wind
and watch laws at work:
stages of flight, breaking free.
Trees, corn, earth appear a kind of falling.
Suddenly I'm no weight, just a point
Here are some short poems by Aryamati. These are inspired by walking along the canal at Taraloka.
Shropshire Canal - Haikus
Brown water: ripples
below and on the surface
play with grey clouds.
The old lady smiles
as she steers the canal boat
moment of freedom.
Out of nothing
come light waves, storms, hail, rainbows.
Create your new dawn.
Delighted bird songs
greet our rising, our sitting,
all freely given.
then fade into the water -
Water streams and flows
seeming the same
but always different.
It's an amazing delight to turn on the tap and have very hot water come out - knowing that the source of that heat is direct sunlight from 93 million miles away! We know it's about photons, vacuum tubes and light sensitive chemistry - and also it's like magic. We're trying to think what Hogwarts' spell Harry Potter would use to produce hot water. Any suggestions? Mine is "Calorificus!"
The work will be continuing in the community this coming week to bring the biomass boiler online and working in tandem with the community solar thermal panels. The retreat centre is in use now until 12 th July so the final link up of those solar panels and the biomass boiler will have to wait till then.
And if all goes to plan - the official energy project launch will be on our Open Day on 25th July. Everyone is welcome!!
At 7.30 I was in the Tara cabin meditating with the others on the retreat when I heard what was obviously a large vehicle arriving. I thought the recycling collection was happening early. In fact it was the Box! driven over from Austria by a couple of nice Bulgarian guys. Saddhanandi and Suchitta took them out coffee and croissants.
Three hours later the crane arrived and the transfer of the 8 tonne Energy Box - it comes complete with boilers, tanks, pumps etc pre-installed inside - began.
While all this was happening Genevieve Tudor from BBC Radio Shropshire came over and recorded a short set of interviews with Kulaprabha, Andy from Organic Energy, and some of our retreatants. Click here to listen.
Part of her stay coincided with the Triratna International Festival. Here are her impressions of that -
As part of my two and a half month stay volunteering at Taraloka, I was involved in the set-up and set-down of the International Retreat as well as enjoying much of the retreat itself. I was amazed by the way in which, relatively painlessly, Taraloka was transformed from a peaceful and tranquil space to a hive of activity – a festival inhabited by 430 people! I say relatively painless as even the burst water pipe on the last day of the set up was rectified with minimum fuss and a lot of good will.
I really didn't know what to expect, having only previously experienced festivals that revolved around music and intoxication! This, however, was not quite a festival and not quite a retreat but a magical event that was more than both. It was an opportunity to catch up with friends, to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar context and, for me, was a chance to welcome members of my local sangha in Newcastle to the place that I was currently calling home. I was able to marvel at the depth of connections that I had made over the years and get a real sense of being part of a Movement that is very important to me.
This sense of the Triratna Buddhist Movement as a whole was exemplified on several occasions during the weekend. At the pujas I was invariably moved to witness and be part of such a large group, circumambulating the shrine, making offerings and visibly going for refuge. On the final evening, at a puja dedicated to the name change I was struck by what a momentous event this was, how significant the Movement is and the pivotal time we are now at. All of us present started practising in the FWBO and are now seeing the beginning of a new era - heralded by our new name.
I was also moved to see the presence of so many children at the weekend. As a young woman hoping to start a family whilst remaining committed to the spiritual life, I found this immensely reassuring, and I was aware of how fortunate these young beings are to be around the Dharma at such a young age. The story-telling that the children participated in was a beautiful addition to the event.
There are so many moments I could pick out as being memorable – and so much effort, love and care went into creating this wonderful opportunity for so many to gather together and practise and celebrate the Dharma.
Thanks for that, Rachel. Our chairwoman, Saddhanandi, gave one of the key-note talks on the Festival. Click here for that and other talks and videos from the Festival.
Since then we've hosted a UK National Order weekend on the theme of meditation and our system of practice in the Order. And currently there is a retreat on exploring the Yogacara school of Buddhist thought and practice.
And .... the shrineroom roof is being replaced! The corrugated iron roof has done us proud for 25 years but it's now replaced with a new and very well insulated roof that is going to help keep the loft bedrooms warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Kulaprabha climbed up on the scaffolding to get these pictures.