Punyamala and I are delighted to offer this retreat at Taraloka and to be sharing it with women moving towards ordination and with dharmacharinis. We look forward to deepening others’ and our own practice and being supported by a very experienced team.
Ritual and devotion enable us to engage with our heights and depths. Ritual is active, creative and usually shared. Devotion is the heart response. It suggests reverence, respect, gratitude, a going beyond the self. Imagination can hold vision, beauty, creativity and a truer response to others and to the depths of ordinary sense experience.
We will explore our response in ritual to the Buddha and to the archetypal Buddhas and bodhisattvas, not as fixed deities but as figures that arise and fade away, that are shimmering, insubstantial, translucent. They might be glimpsed through sight, sound, touch or presence or we might simply wish to know them better. Ritual can also enable us to respond in a kindly way to the deeper flow of our humanity. This might be experienced, for example, as loss, sadness, shame, gratitude, joy, compassion.
The programme, inside and outside, will include presentations, rituals, meditation, silence and time to simply be, alone or together. The team are all private preceptors and I can feel moved by the network of friendship and connections between us:
Punyamala is a public preceptor who, in the last 4 years, has twice led the 3 month ordination course at Akashavana, where she was able to explore her already rich experience of ritual and devotion. She is a founder member of Sheffield Buddhist Centre. She lived there for 30 years with her family and worked part-time as a clinical psychologist in the NHS.
Samantabhadri is a longstanding retreat leader who lived at Taraloka for 8 years and has a love of theatre and literature. She is now dedicating time to writing about ritual, devotion and the imagination.
Dayanandi is a public preceptor who also supports the ordination process in the United States. She was a long-term Chair of Taraloka and, as a qualified architect, played a large part in transforming the buildings. She now also delights in creating pottery and other artwork.