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Monday, March 08, 2010

‘Turning Arrows into Flowers’
Friday 28th May to Tuesday 1st June 2010

FWBO News is delighted to bring you news of the second FWBO International Retreat, a big family-friendly event run by the FWBO Chairs Assembly in conjunction with Buddhafield and Taraloka.

The event commences on the Friday evening and goes through to Tuesday lunchtime. There will be a full programme of talks, meditations, storytelling, and rituals, plus free time for meeting up with friends or going for a walk. Some of the FWBO’s most experienced teachers will be there, including Jnanavaca, Maitreyabandhu, Padmavajra, Saddhanandi, Sona, Tejananda, Vajradarshini, Vidyamala, with more to be confirmed…

There will be two sessions each day when those with children can bring their kids along to be looked after, allowing them to go to the talks, meditations and so on. Also, in the evening we'll have storytelling that kids can come to, sometimes join in, and sometimes stay for part of the ritual/puja that follows on from it... Children aged 3 or under can come for free, and 4 to 16 year olds half price.

It promises to be another huge opportunity for a very imaginative collective celebration of Buddha Day (Wesak) - the festival of the Buddha's Enlightenment. It's also a great way to experience the depth and breadth of the movement, and to get a taste of just how satisfying it can be not just to practice but to live for a short time immersed in a Buddhist context, to work together in teams, and so on.

Places are limited so book soon!  

For more details check the dedicated retreat website at

Story-telling, chanting and ritual: to create an atmosphere of magic and beauty, re-enacting the story of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
Meditation: teaching and time to practice how can we see-through negativity and free our own hearts and minds.
Talks and discussion: looking at the society we live in and what helps and what hinders our attempts to move towards Enlightenment. How can we help turn “arrows into flowers”?
Sangha: an experience of the breadth and depth of the FWBO with hundreds of us from all over Europe living, practising, and creating sangha together over a long weekend.
Family Friendly: facilities and activities for children and teenagers.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

second FWBO International Retreat - update

fwbo  international  retreat  2010
‘Turning Arrows into Flowers’
Friday 28th May to Tuesday 1st June 2010

Vajragupta writes with an update for FWBO News readers on the second FWBO International Retreat -  a big family-friendly event run by the FWBO Chairs Assembly in conjunction with Buddhafield and Taraloka.

He says - 

"It's shaping up to be another huge opportunity for a very imaginative collective celebration of Buddha Day (Wesak) - the festival of the Buddha's Enlightenment. 

"It'll also be a great way to experience the depth and breadth of our international Sangha, and to get a taste of just how satisfying it can be to live together for a short time immersed in a Buddhist context - practicing together, working together in teams, and so on.

"Here's some of what we've arranged so far -  

Story-telling, chanting and ritual: to create an atmosphere of magic and beauty, re-enacting the story of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
Meditation: teaching and time to practice how can we see-through negativity and free our own hearts and minds.
Talks and discussion: looking at the society we live in and what helps and what hinders our attempts to move towards Enlightenment. How can we help turn “arrows into flowers”?
Sangha: an experience of the breadth and depth of the FWBO with hundreds of us from all over Europe living, practising, and creating sangha together over a long weekend.
Family Friendly: facilities and activities for children and teenagers.

"Places are limited so book soon!

"The event commences on the Friday evening and goes through to Tuesday lunchtime. There will be a full programme of talks, meditations, storytelling, and rituals, plus free time for meeting up with friends or going for a walk. Some of the FWBO’s most experienced teachers will be there, including Jnanavaca, Maitreyabandhu, Padmavajra, Saddhanandi, Sona, Tejananda, Vajradarshini, Vidyamala, with more to be confirmed…

"There will be two childcare sessions each day when those with children can bring them along to be looked after,allowing them to go to the talks, meditations and so on. Also, in the evening we'll have storytelling that they  can come to, sometimes join in with, and sometimes stay for part of the ritual/puja that follows on from it... Children aged 3 or under can come for free, and 4 to 16 year olds half price".

For the latest updates - and to book - please check the retreat website

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Buddhafield East Summer Gathering - preparations underway with largest team ever!!!

On Thursday 27th August Buddhafield East will be opening its gates for its 6th year in a beautiful, remote field in Suffolk. The Summer Gathering is an intimate 5-day hybrid festival-retreat event which has a maximum of 130 people attending.

Buddhafield East is a team of FWBO practitioners from the Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge Buddhist Centres, inspired by Buddhafield’s vision of creating community and spreading the Dharma in the beauty of the natural landscapes of East Anglia. They came together in October 2003 and have been hosting an increasing number of events, this year with an extremely successful week retreat in May and a café at the Buddhafield Festival. Their annual Summer Gathering has been called a ‘Dharma Party’ but over the years more people have experienced it as a retreat.

Next week Gathering-goers will be exploring daily themes of the Elements with talks from Lokabandhu, the event’s Dharma Teacher, Vajradaka, and smaller discussion groups with the wider Dharma Team.

Daily morning meditation, yoga classes, NVC workshops, Jayaraja’s energetic ‘Adult Games’, dancing, singing and music workshops are only part of what the event offers. An art area houses many materials for exploring creativity whilst connecting with the elements and for the second year, there will be a healing area, offering free half an hour treatments (the event has a policy of no monetary exchange). The children’s area will be running activities linked in with the daily elemental theme, e.g. sculpturing clay and making kites. Whilst in another corner of the field a ‘Wet Area’ houses a sauna, showers and hot tubs – which, after the busy days, are amazing to spend the evenings in, stargazing. Vegan food is included and at mealtimes everyone will eat together in the created community space, or if its raining, in the ‘Tara Tent’.

Highlights of the event include the dusk outdoor rituals followed by Puja in the beautiful Moroccan ‘Rainbow Tent’, homemade chai over the fire in the chilled-out Wet Area, chanting and Dharma discussions in the sauna and spontaneous acoustic delights around the campfire.

With the largest-ever team hosting the event; more activities to choose from, a more integrated approach linking all the talks, discussions, children’s activities and art, a great theme (the Elements) - this year is set to be another magical Summer Gathering.

For information or to book tickets call Sarah-Jane on 07976 378778. But you'd better be quick, when the tickets are gone they're gone...!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Buddhafield Cafe win Greenpeace's 'Silver Trader' award

In the UK the alternative festival season is rapidly passing, with Buddhafield, Glastonbury, the Big Green Gathering, and Sunrise already memories - muddy or otherwise!

The FWBO’s Buddhafield Cafe has for many years been a prominent part of these events, and as time passes it prides itself more and more on it’s ethical approach to food and the sourcing of the food it uses.

This has been recognised with the news that they are the ‘Silver Award’ winners in the food category of the third Glastonbury Festival Green Trader Awards, awarded by Greenpeace. These awards aim to recognise those food and non-food traders who have done the most to give their businesses a low environmental impact.

Sadhu Buddhafield!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

More reports from Buddhafield Festival

More reports from the Buddhafield Festival are coming in, thanks to the 'Google Alerts' facility.

Geckoface says "I've spent the last week at Buddhafield. To sum up, it was amazing."  She goes on to explore the Mystery of the Chai Lady, saying -

"There is a myth that the Chai Lady roams Buddhafield. She has been sighted in the morning between 8 and 9am with large thermos flasks filled with chai made with rice milk. She sings with a haunting tune that no one can quite remember, with the words "chai, buy my chai, lots of chai, buy my chai, vegan chai". No one can remember her face or quite what she looks like. Those who have seen her are not sure if it was real. There is no hard core evidence for her existence.

"We believe we had a sighting of the Chai Lady on the morning of July the 20th. Also, on the morning of July 16th, I heard her voice in my dreams though it turns out others heard the voice too, so perhaps it was real. We bought her chai and I snapped a picture but I only managed to get her from behind so we have no proof that it is the real Chai Lady".

More from her at

Realfoodlover reports "I went to Buddhafield festival and became a kitchen fairy."  She says -

"I was sitting in a Bedouin tent, as one does, listening to Martha Tilston on stage at Lost Horizons, the legendary travelling café and wood-burning (mostly naked) sauna.

I heard a cry above the music:
“Can someone stir the milk? In exchange for a chai.  Can someone stir the milk?”
“I can stir the milk,” I said.

In the field kitchen, backstage at Lost Horizons, a wooden spoon in hand, I stirred a cauldron of milk coming to the boil.  A dramatic creature with blonde curls, tight trousers and a rocker’s face appeared..."

More from her at

And PedalPowerAdventures ("A journey across the length of Britain, stirred with thoughts on how we can use the power of personal choice to make the world cleaner, greener and generally just a better place to live") reports -

"An interesting time at Buddhafield, hard work with heavy rain every day and lots of mud. Found an almost new pair of thermal wellys in a hedge the day before arriving, true confirmation that the universe provides. Gave them away when I left to a guy who was planning to spend the winter on the top of Exmoor, felt good to pass on the good fortune..."

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Buddhafield Festival sells out; largest-ever

Last weekend saw the 14th Buddhafield Festival, the largest-ever at around 3,000 people. The Festival is by far the biggest event in the FWBO calendar outside India, and involves over 700 people in all the many teams, workshops, cafes etc that combine to put it on.

This year the weather was not kind – but spirits were high and the theme of “Skilful Living in a Changing World” unfolded in a thousand places across the field.

Rather than write a review we’re happy to present excerpts of a report posted on the ‘Explorations of Truth’ blog ( by an unknown author. He or she says –

Buddhafield - Life As It Should Be
“I’m at the Buddhafield Festival gathering at the moment near Glastonbury, England and am definitely loving it. It’s a large gathering of people who share a love of community, a capacity for celebration, are trying to live more consciously, and many of whom are working actively towards making the world a better place. There are probably around 3,000 people here all camping in a very beautiful forested countryside. I came here with my friend Marcus and a sweet woman sharing the ride there named Natalie.

“I’m writing here because I want to acknowledge how happy I am to be here. There is so much love being spread around. Everywhere you look there is a positive interaction happening between people. There are so many things happening here, music constantly at different venues, lots of cafes, teepees serving chai around a fire, nudie saunas, dances, consciousness raising talks, healing services (massage, etc.). playgrounds for kids, interactive games for adults, cinema, drum circles, ceremonies, classes, etc.. For those of you who’ve made a life of attending these events, it may seem like an everyday thing, but to someone like me who has only been to some music festivals, it’s quite amazing.

“While here, I’ve also been to a dance which was another amazing experience. I won’t get into the details of it, but I will report that the levels of Love and contact and celebration that can happen within a group of open hearted people is soooo much more than most people reading this (and the person writing it) have ever experienced. What a blessing it was to be a part of that.

“Other workshops, drum circles, film, live music, completely hysterical improvisational cabaret. It’s rained every day here, sometimes gusting torrents of rain, but that seems to have passed over finally, although the mud seems to be here to stay.

“Needless to say again, I am loving it. What it most feels like to me is Freedom. It feels like how life is supposed to be. Life is worth celebrating. Life is wonderful in community. Life is wonderful when spent with people who just naturally square their face to you and take the time to smile meaningfully at you and share a greeting.

“It’s also about as hippie a festival as I’ve ever been to as well and I am sure glad I lived long enough to see another side to life, another way that things can be.

“Noticed self-consciously today that the rain jacket I’m wearing has an Adidas logo on the sleeve. Here, no-one that I’ve seen, not one of the thousands here, is wearing any form of corporate logo or even sports team emblem. None. Other niceties here include composting toilets, lots of raw and organic veggie vegan food, and a big board constantly added to of singing, dancing, dharma, healing workshops and other events. It’s wonderful. Nothing less. My cheeks are a little cramped from smiling so much. I love it when that happens”.

Thanks to our unknown reviewer! The mud did stay, sad to say - but who cares?!

 There’s some photos of the Festival on FWBO Photos ( ) and also on the Buddhafield page on Facebook.

SADHU Buddhafield!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Buddhafield prepares for 14th Festival

Coming up soon is the 14th Buddhafield Festival – the FWBO’s largest annual event outside India, and much-loved by many people.

The theme this year is ‘TRUTH AND BEAUTY: skilful living in a changing world’, and you’ll find more details including how to book on their website

To quote a little of the review from last year’s ‘Festival Eye’ (Britain’s annual festival ‘bible’) –

“Buddhafields began on the M5 with my guitar and big bag, my hat adorned with all the gifts of special people over the past years and my thumb stuck out into the road.

“I was in Birmingham and Buddhafields was in Devon and it was 4 in the afternoon. Many distractions, many faces. Only three cars later and three very happy smiling faces ending with a beautiful¬ly simple country couple who only knew how to help people I arrived at 8 o'clock, almost quicker than if I'd driven myself, I was dropped off at the gate. "I'm a journal¬ist"...I never tire of saying that. My ticket in was a handmade clay pendant... the first simple touch of magic that Buddhafield's gives as standard. I pitch my tent next to Sam's Sauna, my second home.

“I see and greet the ever-present festival faces that appear in each field that I live in each year and I never tire of them either. The Small World chatters folk into the night behind the hedge that grows between my home and my play ground for the next days. It lives next to Moon Beams and Beth, three of my favourite festival things.

“Buddhafield's is as close... so far... as you are likely to come to a perfect community of beings living and celebrat¬ing the way we all know we should be. We all know how and at Buddhafields we are reminded of that. No drugs and drink leave the air and the smiles as clear as crys¬tal. Add countless children, the Chai Chapel, a lost horizon with a sauna in it, a tribal Tent called Triban, some mud, but also a lot of green grass (very rare in 2007 as I'm sure you are all aware), a community notice board, some pirates, some fairies, some horses, many medita¬tions, many dances and dancers and many naked people including myself and I think you understand. I love it, totally”.

Tickets are selling fast but there are some left.

To further whet your appetite here’s a video ‘The Definition of Love’ created by Jess Brand of Bristol, out of footage from last year’s festival... She says -

“Hi, please find link to Buddhafield video uploaded this morning:

“Cheers the noo"

And see you there...

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Friday, June 19, 2009

'Buddhafield East' sangha celebrations

The FWBO's 'Buddhafield East' sangha have just celebrated their first-ever long retreat. It seems to have been a hit! Jon Heddle writes -

"Set in a sun-drenched buttercup meadow in North Norfolk, the first ever Buddhafield East long retreat was a triumph. The perfect blend of play and Dharma practice. Padmavajra's talks on developing 'The Mind of Wisdom and Compassion' were very well received by both those new to retreats and 'old' hands alike.

"In addition to talks, meditation, ritual and discussion there was also plenty of time for frisbee, volley ball, circus games, yoga and what can be best described as dry field sledging. After the evening Puja people either sat round the main camp fire and/or enjoyed the sauna, whilst the field was bathed in a mist made silver by the waxing moons gentle glow.

"On the final evening of the retreat we held a soiree in the round house. Warmed by a log fire we shared poems, stories, jokes, dance, song, Capoeira and a lot of laughter!

"The feedback was very positive, ranging from 'the best retreat ever' to 'I never knew retreats would be so much fun'.

"Roll on the 2009 Buddhafield East Summer Gathering!"

Buddhafield East are based in East Anglia, UK, you'll find their very beautiful website at - or their blog at

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Buddhafield prepares for the summer; volunteers needed

Buddhafield is a major FWBO sangha in the West of England. They run the ever-popular Buddhafield Festival, a series of camping retreats through the summer, the Buddhafield Café, an organic vegetable growing business, and manage two very beautiful pieces of land. They also teach meditation at many of the UK's alternative festivals and have inspired a series of offshoots - Buddhafield North, Buddhafield East, Buddhafield New Zealand...

Right now they are recruiting volunteers for their summer season. Check their website to see what they need - the advert shown is for workers in the Buddhafield Café…

As well as recruiting, they're hard at work preparing their kit for the summer season. There's some great photos of 'Buddhafield backstage' - see for instance "The Working World of Rupadarshin" on Facebook (you'll need to be logged in to Facebook to see them)

FWBO Photos has lots of them 'in action' see for instance pictures of last summer's festival,
or a meditative journey up to their land at Broadhembury in the beautiful Somerset countryside...

Most importantly though - if you're interested in volunteering with them over the summer, get in touch now!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Buddhafield: tree-planting in the snow

As many of us will know, Britain has been shivering this week under a carpet of thick snow. It’s not been all misery though – there’s a real pleasure in curling up in bed with a book, or sitting by the fire as the cold wind whistles outside..

Spare a thought then, for the hardy folk of Buddhafield, nine of whom have been bravely proceeding with their planned Tree-Planting Retreat on the Buddhafield land down in Devon. Camping, of course.

Abhayajit, the retreat leader, told us –

“We’re still here, though its not been easy. A couple had to leave due to illness, but there’s still nine of us here now – and we have been managing to plant some trees! It was a bit mad one day, as there was a blizzard. To be honest I think we have felt hit by the weather. Probably the hardest thing has been vehicle problems, which of course we depend upon absolutely for bringing in supplies. We’ve had some bad luck there - two punctures and some flat batteries. But we’re in good spirits.”

The retreat is on their land at Broadhembury, which they are increasingly using as a showcase for permaculture techniques. Later this year (hopefully in better weather!) they’ll be returning to the land to offer a 72-hour permaculture Design Course, which will be co-led by the well-known permaculture teacher Steve Read and Dharmamrta, one of Buddhafields land managers and responsible for growing much of their vegetables through the year.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

BoeddhaNatuur releases programme for 2009

The cover image of the BoeddhaNatuur program for 2009

Mokshagandhi, a Dharmacharini living in Amsterdam, has sent us the 2009 program for the FWBO's BoeddhaNatuur project - BoeddhaNatuur being the Dutch Sangha's version of Buddhafield, running camping retreats in the Dutch or Belgian countryside.

If the retreats are anything like as beautiful as the programme, they should be a treat - though long-standing readers of FWBO News may remember their retreats in 2007 suffered from the water and wind elements!

Their website is or you can contact them by email at

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

FWBO Websites IV: the Sanctuary of Prajnaparamita

Prajnaparamita is at the centre of the Sanctuary created in her honour by SagaravajraThis week’s featured website was created by Sagaravajra, an Order Member from Bristol UK. It is dedicated to Prajna-Paramita, a beautiful female Buddha figure embodying the qualities of the Perfection of Wisdom.

More specifically, his site is devoted to the ‘Sanctuary’ he has created to her.

He writes -
"The Prajnaparamita sanctuary is the culmination of a personal spiritual odyssey. On my ordination into the Western Buddhist Order I received a visualisation practice of Prajnaparamita, who embodies the qualities of the Perfection of Wisdom.

“Basing my own work on a stunning Javanese rendition of her, I began working on a sculptural representation as part of my own exploration. After completing the figure, I felt the need to come into closer relation to her essence, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in founding a small contemplative community nestled in a limestone valley in Spain, the Guhyaloka vihara.

“Realising the importance of the surrounding context of the sculpture, I became interested in the idea of sacred space, and the possibility of creating a sanctuary or landscape for the sculpture to inhabit”.

His dream came true, and the Sanctuary appeared, located in a remote woodland in the Blackdown Hills in Devon.

The website covers the story of his relationship with the figure, the labyrinth and mandala being created around the central shrine, the sculptures adorning the surrounding land, and a little more about Sagaravajra himself. It’s no substitute for the real thing, of course – but if you’re not fortunate enough to be passing Devon, it may serve as a taster… As Sagaravajra writes -

“On entering this fertile landscape populated with springs, ferns, owls, deer and archetypal sculptures, one steps into a realm of heightened significance, of metaphor and imagination”.

You’ll find the Sanctuary on-line at

Next week’s website will be 'Buddhist Pictures: Images by Visuddhimati'.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Buddhafield New Zealand up and running, seeks festival...

The stupa at Sudarshanaloka, the FWBO's reatreat centre in the Coromandel mountains, New ZealandAkasadaka, an Order Member from the FWBO’s Sudarshanaloka retreat centre, high in the Coromandel Mountains of New Zealand, writes to say -

“Buddhafield is manifesting deep in the South Pacific in the land of the Kiwi.
Our mission is to build up a community of like-minded Dharma practitioners and create the first ever Buddhafield Festival down under. It's going to be an organic process thing!

“We are currently based at Sudarshanaloka in the Coromandel Ranges. Every year we attend Prana Festival so plan if you can to come, it’s 5 days of good people, good food and good vibes.

Loading up the Buddhafield New Zealand van before a festival“Recent News? Well, preparation for Prana is well under way, Jayaghosa has been working hard along with the help of Matt and Rosie. We have a full program of workshops planned, as well as Dharmamudra coming to lead Taiji. There’ll be space for Dharmavaca (Dharma Discussion) in the evenings”.

He ends by saying “If you are coming do not forget to bring a costume for New Years Eve, theme is masquerade but don't let that stop you from going a bit mental...”

You can contact Buddhafield New Zealand here - or find them on Facebook – go look for Buddhafield NZ.

The Buddhafield ‘family’ now includes Buddhafield itself; Buddhafield North, Buddhafield East, and more – on the web there’s distant fond memories of a Buddhafield Ireland… All share a love of Buddhist practice in the natural world; all delight in the magic that happens when like-minded people come together – and all are willing to put in the hard work it takes to make something happen out-of-doors…

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Buddhafield East celebrates best-ever year

Buddhafield East - Awaken, (c) the1nigelBuddhafield East is a network of FWBO practitioners living around the East of England – Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, and elsewhere across East Anglia. Following Buddhafield’s lead, they’re inspired by the same approach to practice – closeness to nature, simple living, an imaginative approach to ritual, and the creation of “a positive sphere of influence” - which they hope will continue to grow, unfold and develop.

Teresa Coldicott from Norwich reports on their Summer Gathering –

“Flags flew, people danced and meditated, Padmavajra gave three amazing talks and 120 of us had a wonderful time in the Suffolk countryside over the August Bank Holiday weekend. This was our fifth year and fourth gathering, and was very special for me, as so many of us from the Norwich sangha were there.

“The days began with meditation in the Rainbow tent, a real country experience hearing rooks in the trees and machines harvesting grain in the nearby fields. This was followed by breakfast and a work period when vegetables and firewood were chopped, compost toilets were cleaned and hurricane lamps collected from round the field. Then there were the talks from Padmavajra, incredibly inspiring on the theme of the Confident Heart, followed by discussion groups.

“The meals were excellent, sitting round the fire or on cushions in the dining tent, chatting with friends as we fended off the wasps – in a very mettaful way of course…

“Afternoons had many & varied workshops. A highlight was Jnanamitra’s kiln, built on site from earth & straw cob, filled with pots & sculptures, looking like an old fashioned steam engine as it was fired up with huge bellows and smoke poured out of its hat chimney. Capoeira and volleyball kept us active, energy and yoga workshops together with a Healing Space kept us well. There was space for creativity or just sitting by the fire chatting or reading.

“After supper each evening there was story telling, then a ritual around the theme with a puja to follow, then sauna & hot tubs for those who wanted them, followed by music round the fire & being curled up in bed in tent or van to sleep soundly till the cock crowed in the morning”.

2008 has been their best year yet, with a real strengthening of their network across East Anglia. You won’t just find them in a field though - they’re pretty up-to-date technically, and probably have more web presences than any other FWBO!

There’s a beautiful new Buddhafield East website at and you can find them on Facebook, Picasa, MySpace, and finally it's possible to join their on-line message list by emailing them.

In the wider Buddhafield family, Buddhafield North also have a website - see, and rumours are reaching us that Buddhafield’s own web presence may get an overhaul soon!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Floods at Buddhafield's largest-ever retreat - but the magic goes on!

The FWBO’s Buddhafield project has been running retreats and festivals for over 15 years now, with around a dozen retreats of all shapes and sizes offered every year – but all in fields, and mostly in the West Country of England.
Their largest has always been the annual ‘Child-Friendly’ retreat, which aims to be exactly what it says – friendly to children (and parents and all, of course!) This year’s was the largest-ever, with some 250 people attending – including, of course, lots and lots of children! It was the second time they’d held the retreat on their new land at Frog Mill, 18 beautiful acres in the Dartmoor National Park.
It being Devon, and the British summer, they knew the weather was always going to be uncertain – but they’d never had such a downpour as they did on the first days of the retreat! Devapriya, its leader, had his caravan on site and reported the land around him became a lake, a lake so deep that it flooded over the tops of people’s Wellington boots!

He went on to say the children hardly seemed to notice anything was wrong – “yippee, it’s a flood”, they said, and off they went paddling but that it was more challenging for the team and many of the less experienced campers - but they rapidly regrouped and got on with it. The ‘tea tent’ and kids areas were also totally flooded, as were many individual people’s tents. Padmapani, one of the meditation teachers, returned to find his airbed FLOATING inside his tent – by great good fortune his cameras and a selection of hand-painted Tibetan thankhas has been left on TOP of the bed and survived! Happily the shrine room itself was not flooded and Devapriya also reported they’d never had such high attendance at the meditations!

With a month of the Buddhafield retreat season still to go they are hoping for better weather in September. If you fancy a retreat who not consider coming – and, if you don't want to chance the weather, check the FWBO website which carries details of all FWBO retreats in the UK.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Buddhafield Festival ends in beauty

The 13th Buddhafield Festival ended yesterday, with over 2,500 people heading home after a rich weekend on Buddhafield’s beautiful new site in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset. It was Buddhafield’s largest-ever festival and something of a risk given the new site and the increasingly uncertain weather of the British summer.

The Festival was dedicated the theme of the Six Elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space, and Consciousness, with rituals each day dedicated to one of the Elements. For Water, for instance, those participating gathered by the side of the lake for the recitation of verses of meditation. On the last night, for the closing ceremony and to celebrate the element of Space, many papier-mache hot air balloons were lit which flew up into the air and away – a beautiful sight.

Some photos can be seen in the attached slideshow or on FWBO Photos, FWBO News would welcome links to other online photos from the Festival – just let us know by posting a comment on this post. The slideshow takes you on a journey through the Festival, from arrival, to meeting the stewards, to the opening ceremony, the many shrines, a whistle-stop tour of a small selection of the hundreds of gems scattered through the site - and last but by no means least, a study of the remarkable paper stupa in the centre of the site.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Rave reviews for the Buddhafield Festival

Further to our notice about the lineup for the coming Buddhafield Festival, FWBO News has come across a review of last year's Festival, just published in the annual UK magazine Festival Eye. Festival Eye is the UK's festival bible, coming out once a year, carrying reviews of last years' festivals and the dates for the current years'. Last year's review of Buddhafield is wonderful - we print excerpts below...

"Buddhafield's is as close... so far... as you are likely to come to a perfect community of beings living and celebrating the way we all know we should be. We all know how and at Buddhafields we are reminded of that. No drugs and drink leave the air and the smiles as clear as crystal. Add countless children, the Chai Chapel, a lost horizon with a sauna in it, a tribal Tent called Triban, some mud, but also a lot of green grass (very rare in 2007 as I'm sure you are all aware), a community notice board, some pirates, some fairies, some horses, many meditations, many dances and dancers and many naked people including myself and I think you understand. I love it, totally."

And from another reviewer - "Buddhafields is such an invitation to play, dress up, dance until you sweat so much you want to take off your clothes, till the earth vibrates so much under your feet that you want to cover yourself with it... dance till sunset, dance till dawn.. in silence.. the whole site turns silent at night... you can hear the fairies breathe.. the earth children gather in tents, or go to their nests in dream land, warm up in Sam's sauna or around the fire of Lost Horizon.. tell stories, have funny competitions, better be a nudist, a pirate or an earth woman...

"At the top of a hill, some bells, some shrines and meditation tents.. that's where non stop, someone is in meditation. It is Buddhafields.. the fields where you're invited to be as playful as a laughing buddha, playing with appearances of this world..."

Click here to read the full reviews. Sadhu Buddhafield!

This year's festival runs from July 16-20th in Somerset, UK.

The photos are from the Ecstatic Dance tent at the Buddhafield festival.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Karuna Appeal in North London – a glimpse behind the scenes

Khemajala, from the Karuna Trust's fundraising team, writes to FWBO News to say - “Readers of FWBO News might like to know we have a team of volunteers in North London right now. They’re walking the streets and talking to the good people of North London. Jo, Naomi, Abhilasa and Paddy are halfway through their six weeks of door-knocking appeal; please bear them in mind as they do this vital fundraising.“If all goes well they’ll raise many thousands between them for our many projects in India – last year we raised a remarkable £87,968 annually. And since most donations are by standing order, the money just keeps on flowing long after the appeal is over! “If you want to keep up with their story Jo Robinson is blogging away on most days on the Karuna Appeals blog. It makes great reading... Here’s a taste. 14th June: Cultivating passion"Hi, I'm calling from a charity". "You best come in then, but I'm telling you now I'm not signing up for a standing order"."I feel the warmth of the hallway and the house immediately, and realise that it is a little cold out there walking the streets. It is a familiar warmth to me, the warmth of being invited into someone's home, I am immediately grateful. My eyes scan the room, letters opened on the table, a work pass that says BBC on the counter. "Ah, you work for the BBC" "Yes", "what do you do there?" "I'm the World Services' Africa correspondent". Ah, I think, how interesting, we are going to get on well. "So, what do you want from me?" "Well, I'll tell you it straight there's no point in mucking around...I want a standing order...". I grin...he grins, "or a donation" I add, realising that this man is relatively rich and might give Karuna a big fat cheque."He tells me he had a Dalit cleaner when he lived in India. Tells me that the cook of the house said that if the cleaner was ever allowed in the kitchen of the house, she would resign as his cook. He tells me he hates Hinduism because it fosters this sense of when you're born you're screwed, you just have to put up with your lot…” Read more here...

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Buddhafield Festival 2008 - new site, new line-up - coming soon!

A Papier-Mache stupa formed the centre of the 2007 FestivalThe FWBO’s largest event outside India is the annual Buddhafield Festival, now in its 13th year and going strong. From 350 in 1996 it’s grown to around 2,500 people – small enough to retain the intimacy that’s one of its hallmarks, yet large enough to contain an extraordinary diversity of, well, everything!!!

This year they’re moving to a beautiful new site just a few miles from the old one on the Devon-Somerset border. They’ve written to FWBO News to say –“The new site is secluded and peaceful, away from roads, with coppice woodland, and plenty of space. We’ve been hard at work preparing for this year’s Festival – and it’s coming up soon! We warmly invite you to join us – and please do tell your friends. It’s a great way for them to meet a bunch of Buddhists and get a taste of what we’re about”.

Here is a sneak preview of some of this year's programme (all included in the ticket price!!):

Kids Area: AMAZING and varied range of activities for kids - trampolines, dressing up, carnival processing, crafts, bushcraft and nature awareness, storytelling, toddlers' space, daily theatre extravaganza; Teens Space.

Bands: Gadjo Club (superb Gypsy Balkan Jazz); Seize the Day (protest folk stalwarts); Green Angels (upbeat Breton dance); Vogue Gyratory (Brighton faves, 7 piece funk-reggae); Manjinga 7; Toggy Mess (upbeat Irish folk); Manos Puestas (super-spicy flamenco jazz); a variety of fantastic DJs, including Matt Black of Coldcut (Thurs pm), followed by Cinema

Poetry and art: Inter-Ference; open mike poetry evening; Poetry Slam; 'The Big Q' play written specially for Buddhafield!; The Buddhafield 'Artery'; carnival costume-making from found natural materials; creativity and poetry-writing; Mr Be, mime, clown and family show; Stilted butterfly walkabout; Marionettas giant puppets.

The Dharma Parlour at the 2006 Festival.Dharma Parlour and meditation: talks and discussions on Buddhism, speakers from the Western Buddhist Order and other traditions, including Christopher Titmuss. Meditation teaching from FWBO teachers and others. Ceremonies and devotional practice. Network of Engaged Buddhists; Amida Trust, and others.

Workshops: MASSES of all-day yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gung. Healing Area, great range of alternative therapies, pay by donation. Dozens of workshops to die for, including Ecstatic Dance with Jewls; 5 Rhythms with Jo Hardy; Brazilian Forro; Indian Classical Dance with yoga/visualisation; Shamanic Trance Dance with Zilia; many more dance workshops; 'Soulful Singing' with Mahasukha; 'Voice as Sacred Instrument'; Tibetan singing bowls; tin whistle, bodhran, drumming; daily Buddhafield Community Rhythm event; 'Work that Reconnects'; Transition Towns; big debate on Climate; Palestine Peace Campaign; Non-violent Communication; Skilful Flirting; Heart-to-Heart tantric workshops; Green babycare on a budget; Shamanic Journeying from Northern Drum….

The Chakra Cleansing ladies leave a festival-goer in tip-top shapeSpecial Spaces: the 12 Step Dome; Women's Space; Land and Permaculture; Radical Midwives Space for pregnant women and new mothers; Queer Spirit Space; Crafts Area; Wildheart Medicine Wheel Space; Dzogchen and Big Mind teachings; bushcraft; tracking; fire making; sky-gazing meditation.

Saunas including Lost Horizon, featuring chillout space and cabaret; cafes including the Buddhafield Café with strolling musicians. And last but not least, wood-fired showers and compost toilets; all power on site from the sun and wind.

The 2008 Festival runs from Weds 16th to Sun 20th July. The site has good public transport links; nearest train and coach station is Taunton (direct trains from many towns); there are a couple of local buses each day from Taunton direct to the site. There's also special festival mini-buses going direct to the site and back from Bristol, Brighton and London. See the Buddhafield Festival website for details. Don't be put off by the rather severe website by the way - look at the pictures to get a sense of what it's really like!

But PS - don't forget to book soon! See you there! ;-)

The Buddhafield Team

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Buddhafield Festival in the news

The Buddhafield Festival has for some years been the FWBO’s largest event outside India. It’s been held every year since 1996 and has gone from strength to strength, quietly building a loyal following almost entirely by word of mouth. This year they plan to move to a new site – the third since the Festival began – and increase the size slightly, to 3,000.

By happy coincidence they’ve also hit the UK’s Sunday papers in a way they never have before, with top reviews in the Times’ list of ’12 best boutique festivals’; the Guardian’s ‘20 festivals you’ll never have heard of’; and the finally the Independent (not online so far as we know).

As the Times eloquently puts it, “'Are you sure?’ you cry. ‘A festival without alcohol, or drugs, or even – whisper it – dogs?’ But yes, as its name might suggest, Buddhafield isn’t your normal bunch of loons, sorted for Es and whizz and standing in a field with 20,000 others.”

Or, as the Guardian says, "This couldn't be more different from your run-of-the-mill festival."

Each year Buddhafield aims to learn that little bit better how to create a genuine festival that occupies a respected place in the calendar of UK alternative festivals and which genuinely follows the Buddhist precepts. This year, on their Festival Volunteers Page, they say -

“Buddhafield 2008 is organised by practising Buddhists, attempting to exemplify the qualities of infinite Wisdom, Compassion and Positive Energy and to create an environment where others can experience a taste of these qualities. To help us we take on 5 training principles and as contributors to Buddhafield 2008 we ask you to join us in trying to make these training principles a way of life on the site.

"The 5 principles are -

"To Try Not to Take Life or Cause Harm
Cafes on the site are Vegetarian/Vegan. Buddhafield has a strong ecological thread.
"To Try Not to take the Not Given
We try to be aware of what we take from others in all its aspects, goods, time, energy...
"To Try Not to Indulge in Sexual Misconduct
We try not to use sexuality to exploit or coerce others.
"To Try Not to Lie
We try to be honest in our communication.
"To Try Not to Take Intoxicants
We have a policy of discouraging the consumption of intoxicants on the site. We need clear minds to put these principles into practice!

three workers in the Buddhafield cafe, Buddhafield Festival 2007, in the mudThe Buddhafield Festival this year will be held near Taunton, from July 16-20th. Over 600 tickets are given away to the many crews and performers needed to run the Festival, if you’re interested in volunteering or contributing in any way please visit the Festival Volunteers Page of the Buddhafield website where you’ll find application forms and descriptions of what’s needed.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

FWBO International Retreat over, feedback invited...

Over at Taraloka, site of the FWBO's International Retreat last week, the clear-up has just about finished and they are well into their next event, the UK Women's National Order Weekend. All 400 retreatants have gone their many ways - home to Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, all over the UK - and even further perhaps - there were people there from India, New York, Australia.

Sangharakshita came on Sunday morning, and spoke at length, choosing as his theme the Buddha's advice to his monks, the 'Conditions for the Stability of the Sangha' from the Mahaparanibbana Sutta, no.16 in the Digha Nikaya. Thanks to Videosangha, you can catch his talk here, look for 'The Growth and Prosperity of the Sangha' though it's also known as 'Growing the Spiritual Community'.

We'd like to invite any one who was there to add a comment to this post saying how it was for them - just click on 'have your say' below... In this way we'll build up a scrapbook of reflections and memories.

Meanwhile a slideshow of some images from the retreat is available on FWBO Photos, or just click on the photos below. They include quite a lot of Sangharakshita - many thanks to Dhammarati for these.

Click on 'have your say' to add your comment. Thanks...!

And by the way if youre reading this by email and don't have that option immediately available, just visit this post on FWBO News:

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

FWBO International Retreat in full swing; 400 attending

The FWBO’s first International Retreat is in full swing at Taraloka, with over 400 people attending, many camping in the bumpy fields surrounding the Retreat Centre. It is a rich and diverse Sangha gathering - those present are of many nationalities and countries, many ages (83 to just 6 months), and many levels of experience, not least of camping!

Lokabandhu reports from the retreat- “The theme is ‘Beating the Drum of the Dharma’, and we’re exploring it from many different angles – meditation, talks, story-telling (in the evenings, with the children present), ritual, and study – and, of course, in the many meetings happening between people every moment. In the mornings there have been talks – on the first day the theme was ‘Wisdom’, and Ratnaguna explored with us some of the Buddha’s very earliest teachings, the ‘pre-Buddhist Buddhism’ from chapters four and five of the Sutta Nipata. Yesterday’s theme was ‘Absorption’; Kamalashila led us through what may have happened in the Buddha’s mind immediately after his Enlightenment, as he sat beneath the trees around Bodh Gaya. Today the theme is ‘Compassion’; Sangharakshita is expected to arrive shortly, and will be giving a short talk and no doubt meeting people.

“It’s going very well indeed, it’s real meeting between people and a real coming-together of our Sangha. In the evenings we have chanting and puja; circumambulating a rather wonderful papeier-mache stupa as we go. For those who can receive it, there's a video clip of this on Youtube or embedded below”.

Meanwhile FWBO News has heard that the Buddha Festival in India also went very well, with some 500 attending. We will be publishing a full report once we have some photos of the event – expected shortly.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

FWBO International Retreat setup under way at Taraloka

In two days time the first FWBO International Retreat begins at Taraloka, the FWBO’s women's retreat centre in Shropshire, UK. Setup is well under way, with over 50 people on site and new marquees, tents, and domes springing up by the hour. FWBO News went to have a look, and brings you this small videoclip that hopes to bring a little of the magic of the situation to you, wherever you may be... If it's not visible belo, it's also available on Youtube.

The setup is itself a mini-retreat, with walking and sitting meditations in the morning, short meditations before lunch and supper, and pujas and other ceremony in the evenings. And yesterday, two birthdays were added to the mix! This may sound a bit of a luxury given the amount of work to be done, but actually it’s crucial – it creates the atmosphere into which newcomers arrive. And Buddhafield has discovered that if this embodies a sense of Sangha, an event can grow and grow and grow to an almost unlimited size while preserving the same friendliness and sense of welcome as there was when only half a dozen people first showed up in an empty field in a couple of vans…

videoOver 400 people are expected from across Europe and beyond; there will be simultaneous translation into four languages for the main talks, a children’s area, a selection of accommodation (including bedrooms, dormitories, camping, and even the local village hall), and food provided by the Buddhafield café. Multiple meditation spaces include meditation outdoors in Taraloka’s grounds around their very beautiful Prajna-Paramita rupa. In a few days time, Taraloka and Buddhafield will play host to four hundred retreatants - for now though, there’s much to be done – from filling in the rabbit holes in the carpark to setting up the compost toilets to digging down to discover and tee off the deeply-buried water main. Who said it was simple leading the simple life…?!

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

International Retreat: last update, Sangharakshita attending

Vajragupta writes with the latest news of the FWBO International Retreat, due to start in just over three weeks.
He says -

“There is now just three and a half weeks to go to the FWBO International Retreat and it’s getting exciting. In fact it looks set to be the largest FWBO retreat we’ve ever held outside India. Over 250 people have already booked, including a busload coming from Germany and Northern Europe, and another from Spain. The family-friendly facilities mean that quite a few people are bringing their children along and more are welcome of course.

Sangharakshita attending
“Many details of the program have been settled since my last update, and there has been one major new development: Sangharakshita is planning to attend, and will be giving a talk on the Sunday morning. It’s not often that he speaks in public these days; this is therefore a rare opportunity for contact with him.

“The overall theme for the retreat is of course ‘Beating the Drum of the Dharma’. Other speakers include Ratnaguna talking on ‘the Early Teachings of the Buddha’, Kamalasila on ‘the Meditating Buddha’, Parami on ‘Ethics in the 21st Century’ – plus lots more workshops and groups led by some the FWBO’s best teachers. Click here for a full list of the speakers and teachers.

For visitors from outside UK there will be simultaneous translation into Spanish, French, German, and Dutch. And many of the facilities are being provided by Buddhafield, so things should have that extra flavour of ‘Buddhafield magic’…
Book soon!
“It's not to late to book, although there are now only camping spaces available. After May 15th postal and Internet bookings will close - people wishing to book after then are requested to phone Taraloka on +44 (0) 1948-710646.
Weekend tickets available
One other change is that weekend tickets are now available, from Friday to Monday. So if you really can’t get Thursday off work, come anyway! And when you arrive, simply give that bit less. See the website for suggested details.

“If you are thinking to come, please do book soon – and let your friends know too. That’ll make it much easier for us to get in the necessary supplies and make sure everyone can be properly catered for.

“The Buddha said that if the sangha met in large numbers it was sure to prosper. I think this retreat will give many people a wonderful sense of being part of a big, international community of Dharma practitioners. That sense of connection can be so inspiring and important to people at Centres.

"See you there!”

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Retreats of all shapes and sizes on offer in 2008

Following Friday’s post on the FWBO International Retreat, FWBO News is pleased to present a short roundup of some of the more unusual retreats on offer this year around the FWBO and TBMSG. If you want to highlight others, send us a comment on this post…!

First to catch our eye was Dhanakosa’s ‘Clowning and Insight’ retreat, led by Tejananda (chairman of Vajraloka meditation centre) and Jayacitta, founder of Red Noses Unlimited. The connection between clowning and insight, once explained, is surprisingly obvious. As the Red Noses website puts it:

“A Clown is a being that steps into the world afresh. He or she is open to new experiences, meeting things, people, events with wonder, curiosity and a sense of pleasure. Quite different from our pragmatic and often routine way of being, a clown is forever discovering the new. She enjoys being just herself however she is - so being shy, awkward, grumpy, afraid, bossy, falling in love or falling over - all those have a place and can be experienced, seen and celebrated…”

Dhanakosa, in Scotland, have in many ways led the way in developing ‘Buddhism and…’ themes – this year they are offering Photography & Meditation, Hillwalking & Meditation, and Dance and Meditation, plus the more predictable yoga and shiatsu...

Buddhafield, in the South-West of England, focus more on Buddhism and the natural world: their retreats include Tree-Planting, the much-loved and very child-friendly “Germinal Eco-Arts Dharma School” on their land in Devon, and a green retreat where retreatants will “cook with fire, harvest food from the land and eat and drink only local produce”. A taste of things to come? They have also developed retreats on the 'Work that Reconnects', using practices and exercises from the American Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy. A close connection is developing between Buddhafield and Guhyapati’s new Eco-Dharma mountain retreat centre in Spain, where, they say, towards the end of the year, “Immersed in the teachings of wild nature, we will explore interconnectedness…”

Rivendell, the Croydon Buddhist centre’s well-loved retreat centre, runs a wide range of arts and creativity retreats, including the ‘Magic Heart Crucible’ and ‘Wolf at the Door Creative Writing retreats’. And if hill-walking on a Scottish mountain is too much, they offer Rambling - with Taravajra and Dharmavasita!

In Spain, Amitavati, another small and privately-owned retreat centre run by Suratna and Vidyasri, is also focussing on the elements with their ‘Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth: Meditating with the Elements’ retreat at the end of May. Over in the US, at Aryaloka Retreat Centre there’s a retreat coming up that “explores major world issues and how we might engage with them in ways that are informed by Buddhist wisdom and practice”, and if you’re in Australia, check Vijayaloka for its intensive meditation or Qi Gong retreats.

All these retreats are open to newcomers; but there are many more intensive retreats on offer as well. In the UK Padmaloka and Tiratanaloka specialise in retreats for either men or women who have requested Ordination into the Western Buddhist Order. Both have resident communities who worked for many years with candidates for ordination, and many of the Order’s Public Preceptors live at either one or the other. Back in Spain, Guhyaloka and Akasavana host annual long Ordination retreats; these have just started for the men and will begin soon for the women. Once they are complete, more open retreats are generally on offer.

If this seems a bit bewildering, it’s not surprising – the FWBO is a large and diverse community. In the UK the Going on Retreat will hopefully help cut through the many options and help you find the one you want.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

FWBO International Retreat update

The FWBO's first International Retreat is now just six weeks away, and to date we have 200 bookings from people in 9 countries. It looks set to be an inspiring and important date in the FWBO year. The dates are 22nd to 26th May, it will be held at Taraloka, the FWBO's beautiful retreat centre in Shropshire UK (a panorama of the grounds is shown in the photo).

The programme is shaping up: so far we have talks from Ratnaguna, Kamalasila, and Parami, meditation workshops with Vessantara, Tejananda, Kamalasila, Vidyamala and Sona, study groups with Padmavajra, Ratnadharini, Dhammarati, and Maitreyi, and ritual and storytelling with Ratnaprabha, Padmavajra, Dhiramati, and Parami. More to be announced in a few weeks time!

Centres are being asked to make special offerings for the puja on the Sunday evening. If you’re reading this and you go to an FWBO Centre – go ask them what they’re doing and if you can help! We’re assuming most offerings will be a physical object that someone has made, but if you want to do something different – like a musical or dramatic offering – do let us know, so we can incorporate it into the ritual.

The organisers have asked FWBO News to say they are looking for a few more team members to help run the event. You’d need to be available from around Sunday 18th to help with the set-up and you’d get a free place on the event. Interested? - contact Vajragupta, the event's main organiser. More details of volunteering are on FWBO Jobs.

You can book until the deadline of Thursday 15th May, but please note that there are now only camping spaces available, plus a few spaces in simple "canvas dormitories" (about 6 people sharing a big tent that we provide if you don't have your own tent).

Please book by using the brochure available at FWBO Centres, or by downloading the postal booking form (in five languages) on the website You can also book on-line, but we've been having some technical problems with this. It should be fixed by mid-April; in the meantime book by post if you can. The website contains full details of the retreat - transport, childcare, translation facilities, and much more...

And if you’ve not already done so, please think about arranging collective transport to the event, so that a group from your sangha can travel together. To make it easier for lifts offered and needed to find each other, we’ve created a special page on the Freewheelers international lift-sharing site.

See you there!

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