free counters

Friday, November 27, 2009

News from Akasavana

Vijayasri writes with news from Akashavana - the FWBO women's ordination retreat centre high in the Spanish mountains near Teruel . She reports-

“Akshavana is now in its third year of providing ordination retreats for women from all over the world. The third three-month-long retreat took place earlier this year, and we’ve recently completed the second two-week retreat for women unable to manage a long retreat, in the course of which four new Dharmacharinis entered the Order: Jayakara, Aryashila, Candrika and Sanghamani.

“This autumn's retreat was blessed by glorious sunny weather and a series of spectacular sunsets. It was a small retreat, but all present felt the benefit of the beauty, wildness and elemental quality of the Spanish mountains where Akashavana is set.


“Following on from the retreat this autumn we held an Open Day for local people to visit. Six people from the Valencia Buddhist Centre came to help with the occasion, in addition to five Dharmacharinis - Vikasini who is coordinating retreat support at the moment, Padmadharini, who lives in the area, as well as myself, Vijayasri, Siddhimala and Siddhishvari who were there to support the ordination retreat.

“Akashavana is sited 8 kilometers up a rough and rocky track, so we were not sure how many people would actually make it to the retreat centre! We thought maybe 50 at the most? So it was with mounting delight we saw one 4x4 after another arrive, disgorging many people from the nearby village of Penarroya de Tastavins, who have long been curious about the Buddhist women on retreat up in the mountains.

“Various local friends and helpers - plumbers, builders, bakers, hairdressers, even the man who runs Valderrobres great pizzeria - in fact everyone we've had any help from or contact with over the last five years were all invited and most came. Also a local Spanish Tibetan monk called Vicente, or Ngawang, visited and expressed much admiration for the environment for practice we had created, being himself at the start of a project to renovate an old house as a meditation centre in a nearby village.

“When we realised that numbers were mounting to around 150 people there was a bit of worry that we had enough vegetarian tapas to feed them all, but Siddhishvari's and Siddhimala's great work in the kitchen proved to be plenty for all.

“Giuliana and Stephanie from the Valencia Sangha led sessions giving a brief introduction to the FWBO in the shrineroom, and then led everyone in a short taste of meditation. The shrine room was full for three consecutive sessions. I for one found it very moving to look around the room and see many people who have been helpful and hospitable to us enjoying and appreciating what we have created. It was great to be able to show them something of what our movement is about, directly by demonstration rather than just trying to explain.

“We had many favourable comments, about the beauty of the location, the quality of the work on the house, the well-thought-out solar electric and water pumping system, and our openness in inviting them into the retreat centre.

“Thanks to all who made it such a great day”.


More photos of Akasavana are available on FWBO Photos.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ordinations at Akashavana and forthcoming ordinations at Guhyaloka

The Three Jewels of Buddhism, displayed on the Kesa received by members of the Western Buddhist Order on their ordination
This is to joyfully announce the ordinations of seventeen women, of seven nationalities, during the three-month women's ordination retreat at Akashavana.

Public preceptor: Maitreyi

Jan Birbeck becomes Silanandi (Pali) (both ‘i’s long, long first ‘a’) She who delights in ethics. Private preceptor: Vajragita

Stephanie Betschart becomes Padmadrishti, She having/taking a lotus view.

Private preceptor: Ratnavandana

Julia Kurcin becomes Abhayadhi (long ‘i’) Fearless wisdom. Private preceptor: Ratnadharini

Anona Bhambral becomes Karunadhi (long second ‘a’, long ‘i’) She whose wisdom is compassion. Private preceptor: Ratnadharini

Pia Tapio becomes Liladhi (all vowels long). She whose wisdom is the play (of the bodhisattvas). Private preceptor: Ratnadharini

Claire Owen becomes Padmagita (long ‘i’, long last ‘a’) She who is a song of the lotus. Private preceptor: Srivati

Public preceptor: Parami

Fran Neal becomes Pasannamati (Pali) She who has a bright, clear, virtuous and happy mind. Private preceptor: Samacitta

Linda Hanson becomes Vidyasara (all ‘a’s long) She having (liberative) knowledge as her core or strength. Private preceptor: Ratnavandana

Sharon Mercer becomes Nanasiri (Pali) (first ‘n’ pronounced ‘jn’, long first ‘a’, long last ‘i’) She who has the radiance of knowledge. Private preceptor: Dayanandi

Betsy Stirling Benjamin becomes Kiranada (long last ‘a’) She who gives beams of moonlight (of the moon of the Bodhicitta). Private preceptor: Dayanandi

Public preceptor: Padmasuri

Zoe Stephenson becomes Saravantu (Pali) (long first ‘a’) Valuable (like heartwood) She who values what has true meaning. Private preceptor: Dhammadassin

Hedwig Frerich becomes Jayalalita (long last ‘a’) As beautiful as victory, the goddess of victory. Private preceptor: Kulanandi

Angeli van den Berg becomes Parina (all vowels long) She who crosses to the further shore, she who transcends all duality. Private preceptor: Akasasuri

Public preceptor: Ratnadharini

Mari Brothers becomes Dhiragita (both ‘i’s long, long second ‘a’) Firm, steady song. Private preceptor: Punyamala

Helena Treiberg Claeson becomes Dayadharani (long second and third ‘a’, long ‘i’) Bearing, holding, possessing compassion. Private preceptor: Kulanandi

Public preceptor: Dayanandi

Cheryl McMillan becomes Tejavani (long second ‘a’, long ‘i’) Sound, voice or praise of splendour, brilliance, energy. Private preceptor: Karunadevi

Rachel Kahn becomes Dhivajri (both ‘i’s long) She who has the diamond of wisdom. Private preceptor: Viryaprabha

In addition we're delighted to announce the following 19 men will be receiving their private ordinations at Guhyaloka at an unspecified time between now and June 14th. Their Public Ordination will be at Guhyaloka on June 15th at 12:00 (Spanish time - 10:00 GMT):

Ken Pearson, Murray Sansom, Peter Hunt, Rob Thurlow, Simon Lovat, Simon Thunder, Frank Spitzauer, John Denton, Carl Hutchinson, Simon Okotie, Paco Guillermo, Andrew Harman, Nick Ross, Robert Evans, David Beard, Rob Gibbs, Richard Norris, Matthew Burgess and Patrick Baigent.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ordinations at Akashavana in Spain

Ordinations at Akasavana -  a group photo from the first ordination retreat in 2007The following women had their public ordination ceremony at Akashavana, the FWBO’s retreat centre for women, high in the mountains of Spain, on Tuesday 28th October:

Anne Rugg becomes Akashavanda (first, second and last 'a's are long); 'orchid in luminous space'. Her private preceptor was Dayalocana from the USA and her public preceptor was Dayanandi.

Anastra Madden becomes Prasannavajri (long 'i'); 'she who has a vajra / diamond that is pure, clear, bright and tranquil'. Her private preceptor was also Dayalocana and her public preceptor was Maitreyi.

Nancy Lorraine becomes Maitrimani (second and last 'i's are long, dot under the 'n'); 'she who has the jewel of friendliness'. Her private preceptor was Maitreyi and her Public preceptor Parami – who also ordained the next three.

Lisa Mayhead becomes Prajnamala (last 3 'a's are long); 'a garland of wisdom'. Her private preceptor was Vajragita from Holland.

Fiona Littlejohn becomes Suvarnasara (penultimate and last 'a's are long); 'she who has a golden core / essence'. Her private preceptor was Viryadevi from Scotland.

Holley McCoy-Petrie becomes Animisha; 'she who looks steady, is vigilant, she who doesn't wink, eyes open, open as a flower'. Her private preceptor was Padmasuri.

Sarah Brimelow becomes Taramani (first and second 'a' are long, dot under the 'n'); 'she who has the / a jewel of Tara'. Her private preceptor was also Maitreyi and her public preceptor Ratnadharini.


The photograph shows women from last year’s ordination retreat at Akasavana, we include it to show the beauty of the place.

These ordinations bring the total new Order Members joining the Western Buddhist Order this year to 125, almost certainly a record for a single year.

There were twelve ordination ceremonies held on seven countries – India, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, New Zealand, the USA, and the UK. Interestingly, only 3 of the 125 new Order Members were ordained in the UK. There are now approximately 1636 Order Members world-wide, you can see most of them on the Order Mosaic.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 14, 2007


On Tuesday 12th June, in the context of a three-month retreat, the first ordinations took place at Akashavana - the FWBO's new retreat centre dedicated to the ordination of women, in the Spanish mountains.

Public preceptor Parami:

Ethel Findlay becomes AMBARANTA (long third 'a'); literally 'sky-limit'; horizon;'she who is unbounded like the sky' (sanskrit); private preceptor Dhammadassin.

Patricia Jeffrey becomes JAYAVARDHANI (long 'i'); 'she who increases, strengthens, augments her victories' (sanskrit); private preceptor Kalyanasri.

Enid Park becomes SARANAJAYA (long last 'a'); 'she whose victory comes from the Refuges' or 'she who wins liberation through the Refuges' (pali); private preceptor Kulaprabha.

Fionna Yule becomes AMITASHURI (long 'u' and last 'i'); 'boundless, limitless heroine' (sanskrit); private preceptor Maitreyi.

Jo Howes becomes SAMASHURI (long 'u' and last 'i'); 'impartial, equanimous heroine' (sanskrit)' private preceptor Maitreyi.

Sonia Rodriquez becomes ABHAYAGITA (long 'i' and last 'a'); 'she whose song is fearlessness' (sanskrit)' private preceptor Paramachitta.

Public preceptor Ratnadharini:

Judi Simons becomes MANIGARBHA (long last 'a'); 'she who has an inner jewel', or 'matrix of gems' (sanskrit) private preceptor Padmasuri.

Caroline Martin becomes ATAPINI (long first and second 'a', and last 'i'); she who is diligent, ardent and zealous' (pali); private preceptor Kalyanasri.

Public preceptor Maitreyi:

Sabine Lentz becomes SANGHADARSHINI (long last 'i'); 'she who sees the Sangha', 'she who has a vision of the Sangha' in the sense of knowing and understanding (sanskrit); private preceptor Kulanandi.

Pippa Andrewes becomes NAGARAKSHITA (long first and last 'a'); 'she who is guarded, protected by the Nagas' (sanskrit); private preceptor Muditasri.

Carol Bois becomes MAITRIPUSHPA (long second 'i' and last 'a'); 'she who has the flower of benevolence' (sanskrit); private preceptor Ratnadharini.

Emma Styles becomes AMBARAVAJRI (long 'i'); 'sky vajra', 'she who is a vajra like the sky' (sanskrit); private preceptor Dhammadassin.

Public preceptor Padmasuri:

Bianca Boterhoek becomes AMARASHRADDHA (long last 'a'); 'immortal / undying faith' (sanskrit); private preceptor Ratnadharini.

Leonie Luterman becomes SAMAYADEVI (long 'i'); 'luminous one of the vow or bond - the bond of inner relationship with the Three Jewels and her yidam' (sanskrit); private preceptor Karunadevi.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anticipation of first Akasavana Retreat

AkasavanaVijayasri reports from Akashavana

We were lucky to have a mild winter this year, although there has been a frustrating lull, the builders off on another job, and snow, then rain muddying the track. But this week they're back in force, doing the final clearing up, connecting up the power and water, installing the solar electricity. Some days there have been around twenty people on site!

There's six of us living in the community at the moment - the current core team of me, Padmadharini and Bianca (who'll be ordained on the retreat, wonderful!) with visitors Desiree, Rozelle and Ethel (also shortly to be ordained). We get on well, with the inevitable stormy bits here and there. It can feel a bit full up in the house sometimes, it's helpful that Rozelle brought her yurt to sleep in, being a hardy Buddhafield type.

We are all working very hard, building, mammoth shopping trips for furniture and equipment, arranging all the last things (like getting the water tested this week) as well as all the ongoing maintenance of life in the wilds which is far from simple whilst managing a large building project. But we keep a regular programme of meditation and Dharma study which gives space and a framework for all the busy-ness.

We've also employed some friends who live locally - Deb, Howard and Jan - when we realised we were getting a bit behind with the building stuff we needed to do ourselves - compost toilets, outdoor showers etc, so now these constructions are shooting up at amazing speed. They brought along a 15 year old boy they've taken in for a while as he was going off the rails getting into violence and delinquency in London, and Mark has been working fantastically hard - it has been moving to see him changing before our eyes from a sullen teenager to a helpful worker.

So I have a head full of lists of things to do, but often I just stop and look around me. I feel a spontaneous welling up - tears of inspiration and gratitude and wonder at the beauty and wildness surrounding me. Gratitude for myself that I can work on this wonderful project - have this big adventure, gratitude for all benefit to the women who will come here, for the generosity and creativity and support given by so many people to make this miraculous place happen.

Lots of people have helped, but I especially feel gratitude to Vajradevi for never compromising the vision, - she's an example of what great things can be achieved by simply keeping going and taking the next step, doing the next thing.

So soon we'll be driving the first retreatants up the track. I can't wait to see their faces!

love, Vijayasri

There are lots of photo's from Akasavana on their Flickr site.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Big Changes at Akashavana

The team from the Akasavana FWBO retreat centerNothing remains static for very long in the mountains of Spain. Since Vajradevi left at the beginning of October the community has temporarily expanded to five; the weather is moving towards winter cold with gorgeous, icy frosts in the mornings; a yurt has appeared in the front garden (well, front wilderness); a new wood shed is erected on the side of the community (now we just have to fill it with wood); and the retreat centre is (we hope) close to completion.

There is also a brand new web site at full of snaps, news and info including a blog on 'moksabunny.'

The community is growing. I joined Vijayasri and Bianca, arriving from the warmth of San Francisco beginning of November. The sub-zero temperatures have not put me off, but the dirt depositing itself on my fluffy North Face gear has come close. I will be taking over the finances – mainly because I do actually know what I’m doing in this area, whereas building a wood shed is a mysterious process for me. Roselle and Desiree, part of the Buddhafield extended family, also arrived in November and will be staying through March. Roselle arrived complete with her own yurt, which she is valiantly living in despite the icy weather. Both have been an amazing help assisting Bianca to build the wood shed; researching composting toilets (details and photos can be forwarded to anyone interested); and fancying up the solitary yurt so it will be even more cosy for future retreatants. They also came with the added bonus of being well versed in the outdoors and shower shortages, which can’t really be said for me.

The building work at the retreat centre continues in typical Spanish style- i.e. there are no guarantees exactly when the workmen will show up - but thanks to continued cajoling from Vijayasri, the show goes on. A number of water tanks looking suspiciously like space ships have arrived, and the windows and doors are now installed – heating and electricity next.

The community continues to work with the daily challenges of living in such a remote place: Internet access is always a practice of patience and mindfulness; calling a friend requires walking or driving up the hill dressed in multiple layers (and with a hot water bottle if you’re smart); we now have 7 mobiles lined up on the windowsill – the only place we can pick up a signal; and a trip into town is usually a very long day with lots of regrets if you forget something essential (which does occasionally happen). Thankfully there are many laughs in the process, and the spectacular scenery always enhances the drive. So until next time, we are busy preparing for the snow, although Vijayasri says “it’s not happening this year”, and preparing for our first Ordination retreat in April.

- Padmadharini

Labels: ,