A Retreat Centre For Women

Everything begins with a vision. In the 1980's, more and more women were becoming interested in Buddhism and interested in deepening their practice within the Tririatna Buddhist Community (then the FWBO). But there were no women's retreat centres. There were men's retreat centres and mixed retreat centres, but there was no space that women practitioners could call their own; where women could teach other women; where women could go deeper together; where women could stand in their own confidence and take themselves seriously as spiritual practitioners.

All it takes for a vision to happen is for people to get behind it. A few women, led by Sanghadevi, made the vision happen, by fundraising and then spearheading the first residential community. Thousands of people contributed to the grassroots fundraising. In 1985, Cornhill Farm was bought - a run-down farmhouse and derelict outbuildings, together with seven acres of land. As Ratnasuri said, (another of Taraloka Community's founding members), looking at the semi-derelict property: 'It's got potential!' But it didn't have much else.

The first retreats were held in the white farmhouse - a living room converted into a shrine room, and everyone crowding into a couple of rooms to sleep on mattresses on the floor. But Taraloka - Tara's Realm - had been born.

Over succeeding years, through the time, energy, effort and money of many, many women, the farm outbuildings were gradually converted. We have great archive photos of women with jack-hammers breaking up concrete cattle troughs from what is now the lounge, and women seated on bare rafters of the roof nailing down tiles. This tradition continues with the Taraloka work retreats. We have also had great partnerships with local tradesmen who have contributed above and beyond their paid roles. And the residential community have been a steady thread, holding responsibility for the project. Over the thirty years of its existence, Taraloka has become more and more beautiful.