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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Opportunity at EcoDharma in Spain

Maitrisara writes with news of an opportunity for anyone over50 looking for a stay in the Pyrenees this autumn. She says -

“Grant funding enables us to offer 6 expenses paid places on a volunteering project at the EcoDharma centre between 1 and 2 months in September and October 2010. (

"EcoDharma is a Buddhist based community living in a remote valley in the Catalan Pyrenees. The wild beauty is incredible as are the ideas talked about over supper! The influences on the centre’s philosophy include radical ecology, The Work that Reconnects, engaged Buddhism, systems theory and holistic experiential learning.

“You need to be over 50 (yes we know that’s a bit strange but that is what the funding is for!) and reasonably fit. Living as part of the community, you will be involved in the garden and building projects. If you know a bit about permaculture, building or capentry, food preserving - this might particularly suit you. Get in touch with Maitrisara - if you want to know more about it and are interested.

“Please pass on to anyone you think would be interested (in the right age bracket!!)

With warm wishes

The retreat centre is just visible as the tiny white dot on the plateau in the centre-left of the photograph.

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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.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Buddhist Centre opens in Valencia

Another belated report has surfaced on the FWBO News desk - proof of a very a busy summer for our small team! This time it’s our pleasure to bring you news of the opening of the new FWBO Buddhist Centre in Valencia, Spain.  (We should mention that in  the-speaking Spanish world the FWBO is known as the AOBO - los Amigos de la Orden Budista Occidental.

There’s been an AOBO centre in Valencia for many years, and over the years they’ve built up a Sangha to be proud of - besides the classes at the Centre itself there’s right-livelihood businesses, translation work, prison visiting, Breathworks, and - most recently - Café Azul. Café Azul is a vegetarian cafe situated inside the Centre itself, and aims to promote vegetarianism in a country where meat-eating is still very much the norm.

To back this up, the Cafe Azul section of their website contains a long section on the reasoning behind vegetarianism, vegetarian recipes, and quotations from famous vegetarians, for instance Albert Einstein. We quote a little section here (English courtesy of Google Translate)

Why Café Azul?

Blue is the name chosen for our small Buddhist cafe in downtown Valencia. It was chosen in homage to Akshobya, the Blue Buddha of the East, of water, of touching the earth, the Buddha who is supported by the elephant (the largest animal that can now walk the earth), whose Buddha-family are the protectors of the Dharma and the Bodhisattvas of compassion in action.

Blue Cafe is a place dedicated to the Dharma, its dissemination and development. Especially, it is a place where we try to spread vegetarianism in an ethical, supportive and sustainable manner.

we can choose a vegetarian diet, and start a new form of diet, knowing that it will assist us to stop being complicit in the sacrifices that are made of thousands of animals each day.
By choosing vegetarianism, we choose to save the lives of animals, knowing they are simply our fellow beings on this Planet - not our servants, much less our enemies.

Here's a video and a slideshow of the celebrations -

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

Sadhu Valencia!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

New centre for the FWBO in Valencia

FWBO builders at work on the new Valencia CentreThe FWBO has had a Centre in Valencia, Spain, for 20 years now. Anyone browsing their website and blog ( will have followed the story of their fundraising appeal and property search – and their eventual success.

FWBO News’ editor wrote asking for an update and was told -

“I'm up to my arms in wet plaster and rubble at the moment and will be in the same position for at least another 6 weeks so not able to write at the present time. But yes we have a new property, a very big improvement on our current centre: bigger, better distribution of spaces, etc. We are currently doing the place up and hope to open in April-May 09. It's a lot of work, a big project and we're investing about 40k euros, but it will be money well spent and hopefully we will have a lovely, custom built centre to show for it after all our hard work is finished”.

On-line web translation by your reported yielded the following from their website -

“… we have had the luck to already find the ideal premises for this moment and have signed a contract by 10 years with an almost equal rent to which at the moment we have with almost the space double! Doubt does not fit that Ratnashamvaba helps us."

Happily they have also sent us a YouTube link to a ceremony they did recently to dedicate the space which is to be their new centre -

Sadhu Valencia…!


Friday, November 14, 2008

Retreats in Spain...

The FWBO operates many retreat centres around the world; with some eight in the UK alone (see for details) .

There’s also four FWBO retreat centres in Spain – Guhyaloka (the Secret Realm) and Akasavana (the ‘Forest Retreat of Luminous Space’) being the two best-known, focussing on long ordination retreats for men and women respectively.

Less well known is Amitavati, a small retreat centre near Valencia, run by two Order Members Suratna and Vidyasri. They’re having a Working Retreat in December and are inviting anyone interested to join them.

The fourth, and newest, is Eco-Dharma. High in a remote part of the Catalan Pyrenees and home to three Order Members - Guhyapati, Kamalashila, and Yashobodhi; EcoDharma aims to offer courses, events and retreats which “support the realisation of our human potential and the development of an ecological consciousness honouring our mutual belonging within the web of life – drawing on the Buddhist Dharma and the emerging ecological paradigms of our time”. They too have some events coming up – and everything they host is on a ‘dana’ basis (Dana = Generosity, or the principle of ‘give what you can’)

Early next year Guhyaloka have their annual month-long working retreat for men, you can find details here

PS - we've been asked to mention a FIFTH retreat center in Spain, this is SOLTERRENO, a small retreat centre run by Order Member Bodhin and his partner. It's situated between Guhyaloka and Valencia, and among other things has a lovely solitary retreat cabin. With the new shrine room it can accomodate small retreats of up to 8 to 12 people. Bodhin says, "Have a look at the photos!"

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

new FWBO Centre in Barcelona; news from Düsseldorf

Graffiti spotted on a cafe doorway in Barcelona - not the new Centre! A new FWBO Centre has recently opened in Barcelona. Frank Bergmann, one of their main organisers, contacted FWBO News to say -

“Hi, we're happy to let you know we have finally managed to setup regular meditation classes in Barcelona. It took us several attempts and more then 3 years to convert a good idea into concrete action – but we got there!

“Some facts:
- The new center in Barcelona is an offspring of the AOBO Center in Valencia. (The FWBO in Spain is known as the AOBO, 'Los Amigos de la Orden Budista Occidental' as opposed to 'The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order').
- we have a website
- We currently run classes every 2nd Friday. The schedule for the classes is announced on our website.
- The classes are held in a beautiful space in the heart of Barcelona. The space is used for Yoga classes and other activities during the rest of the week. Our address is Carrer Cirera 6, 08003 Barcelona.
- Classes are taught by Paramachitta.

- The language for the classes is Spanish, but there are always English speakers around, so it's no problem for non-Spanish speakers to participate. So come and visit when you’re passing Barcelona!
- We don't cover our costs yet. So please spread the word if you know people in Barcelona who might be interested.
- We don't have a good Google-ranking right now, so it would be great if you could tell your webmasters to link to our site. That would help us greatly to attract more participants.
- You can contact us at
- Photos of the new centre and sangha will follow.


Major renovations to the bathroom of the FWBO Centre in Dusseldorf - all part of investing in the future...Meanwhile FWBO News brings you this update from Sraddhabandhu, manager of the new Centre in Düsseldorf, Germany. He writes -

"An update of our activities: What would a FWBO centre be like without renovating activities?

"Right, it wouldn’t be a proper FWBO centre! So, in Düsseldorf we are renovating our bathroom to install a shower and make it accessible for handicapped people. This is quite expensive, but an investment in the future, because we can then have short urban retreats. As soon as the building work is finished, I will announce our first urban retreat. But this will take some time, as you can see from the photo.

"But we have invested in other things as well. Last year we bought a Flip chart, which is not very exiting. But this year we bought a projector as well, so that Sraddhabandhu can enhance his talks with slide shows a little bit. I guess we are now one of the few centers with a projector. But don’t worry, our prime motive is still to communicate the Dharma, not to tickle the senses of our guests with fancy movie shows..."

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Sangharakshita's news

Sangharakshita, photographed by DhammaratiIt has been quite some time since news of Sangharakshita has appeared in Shabda. However we have now received a report from Dharmamati, his secretary, and are pleased to reproduce it here -

"Sangharakshita has been very active in recent months, visiting centres both here and abroad, seeing individuals nearly every day, continuing working on 'Precious Garland Seminar' with Samacitta and taking regular study with a small local men's chapter.

Bhante's health:
Bhante has been in quite good health over the last couple of months. His eyesight has even improved a little and he has started to be able to read large print publications and smallerprint with the aid of an illuminated magnifying glass and he has even been able to draft a few letters. This said, however, his eyesight is still limited and most things have to be read to him.

The last report concluded with Bhante attending the Guhyaloka reunion at Padmaloka. At the end of this month he was invited to a conference organised by The Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK) and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy-UK. the conference was called The British Buddhist Landscape - Transplantation and Growth. He was one of the two keynote speakers for the conference, the other being Stephen Bachelor.

The FWBO had quite a strong presence at the conference, not only with speakers, but with artworks contributed to an exhibition of Buddhist art from Britain. Bhante's talk was entitled 'Looking back and forward a little, reminiscences and reflections. In it he recollected his association with British Buddhism especially his time with the Buddhist society in the early 1940s in London. He also gave some reflections about the future. (for more about the conference see the report on FWBO News.

July was quite a full month with visits to Sheffield, Berlin and leading study for the Men Mitra Convenors at Padmaloka. In both Sheffield and Berlin Bhante gave a Q&A session for Order members and a public talk.

In Sheffield Bhante gave a talk on something that he has rarely talked about in public, 'Rebirth'. This was a personal talk that included reflections on dreams, visions and experiences from his life.

In Berlin the public talk was on the 'Six distinctive emphases of the FWBO' According to the local sangha this was a very timely talk in helping establish what the FWBO has to offer in Berlin; a talk covering some of the same ground was given in Birmingham and is available here from FreeBuddhistAudio. During the Men Mitra Convenors meeting at Padmaloka Bhante led ten study sessions over a period of 5 days on 'The Path of Regular and Path of Irregular Steps'.

During August Bhante spent most of the month at Madhyamaloka. Towards the end of the month Bhante celebrated his 83rd Birthday. A special event was organised by Siddhisambhava with invited guests from Madhyamaloka community, Uddiyana trustees and those involved in the recent fundraising appeal for Bhante's support. Happily to say the goal was exceeded due to the generosity of many individual Order members.

Two days after this Bhante left for Spain where he attended an Order retreat. The venue was Tushita retreat centre run by the FPMT in the hills behind Barcelona. During this event Bhante gave a q&A session for Order Members. From there he travelled to Valencia where he stayed in the men's community. During his stay in Valencia Bhante gave a public talk at the Valencia Buddhist Centre. the theme this time was Padmasambhava, his talk included the five poisons and the five spiritual faculties. This event was attended by over 150 people.

The next event was an historic one, the public launch of the Spanish translation of 'A Survey of Buddhism'. The event took place in a lecture room at a University.

Most recently, Bhante has been to Krakow, Poland where he opened Sanghaloka, a new FWBO centre and our first in Poland.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Respiravida: 'Breathworks' launches in Spain

Breathworks is the FWBO’s newest (and very successful) Right Livelihood business. Started by Vidyamala in Manchester, UK, they have grown to a world-wide community of trainers offering “mindfulness-based pain management and strategies for living well to anyone wishing to live a richer life and feel a greater sense of initiative and confidence”.

Now the Breathworks approach has spread to Spain and the Spanish-speaking world, with the launch of RespiraVida (literally, “breathe life”) and their website

This wasn’t easy, there being substantial barriers of distance and language to overcome. Initially Dharmakirti and Satyabhasana, two Order Members based around the FWBO’s Valencia center, travelled to England to do the two week-long residential training courses. After this, in order to qualify as Breathworks trainers, they had to run a practice course with distance monitoring – not so simple. As Satyabhasana explained to FWBO News, “this, of course, meant that we had to translate both the course manual and the CDs into Spanish, which was a fairly long but also interesting undertaking”.

She goes on to say “Since then we have run a further course at the Valencia Buddhist Centre and are about to branch out into a new venue, a local association which supports people with cancer and other serious illnesses. We are also planning to launch a distance learning course, as the demand seems to be there.

“If you’d like more information (in Spanish) we are at or e-mail us (in Spanish or English) at”.

Back in the UK, Breathworks are eagerly awaiting the November publication of Vidyamala’s book ‘Living Well with Pain and Illness: The mindful way to free yourself from suffering’. Excellent reviews are already available on the Resources page of the Breathworks website and copies may be pre-ordered there with a 5% discount and free UK postage and packing.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Una Panoramica del Budismo - the 'Survey of Buddhism' printed in Spanish

One of Sangharakshita’s best-known – and longest - books has just been published in Spanish. The ‘Survey of Buddhism’ ('Una Panoramica del Budismo' as it is known in Spanish) was first published in 1957, and written when Sangharakshita was only 26 years old, at a time when Buddhism was only just beginning to become known in the West. At well over 500 pages it is a remarkable tour-de-force - and a remarkable feat of translation! The work has stood the test of time, with over 9 editions and numerous reprints in English.

The occasion was celebrated at the FWBO’s Valencia centre with a special visit by Sangharakshita, fresh from celebrating his 83rd birthday in Birmingham, UK. His visit coincided with their Padmasambhava Day celebrations, including a Padmasambhava Puja.

Spanish-speaking readers will be pleased to know that The FWBO’s Libros Budistas, also based in Valencia, offer some 48 Dharma books in Spanish for free download.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Public Ordinations at Akashvana

On Tuesday 10th June the following women were ordained at the FWBO's Akasavana retreat centre in the Spanish mountains.

public preceptor Parami:
Sandy Lacey becomes Dharmamrita (long second and last 'a's), 'she who
has the nectar of the Dharma' (private preceptor Maitreyi)

Sophia Young becomes Kuladharini (long last 'i'), 'she who supports or
sustains the spiritual community' (private preceptor Viryadevi)

Tracy McLoughlin becomes Taradakini (all vowels long except first 'i'),
'she who is a Dakini of Tara' (private preceptor Kalyanavaca)

Thea Wiersma becomes Amritapurna (long 'u' and last 'a'), 'she who is
full of nectar (of the Dharma)' (private preceptor Ratnadharini)

Nicky Edmonds becomes Satyajyoti (long 'i'), 'light of truth' (private
preceptor Punyamala)

Hazel Baker becomes Maitrimala (long second 'i', and second and last
'a's), 'garland of metta' (private preceptor Vajragita)

public preceptor Dhammadinna:
Aida Fernandez becomes Rochani (long 'i'), 'she who is bright, shining,
luminous' (private preceptor Parami)

public preceptor Maitreyi:
Teresa del Soldato becomes Lilamani (long 'i's and first 'a'), 'she who
has a jewel of playfulness' (private preceptor Dhammadinna)

Mireille van der Plas becomes Mokshagandhi (long 'i'), 'she who's
perfumed with liberation' or 'she who has the fragrance of emancipation'
(private preceptor Akasasuri)

Jaine Daley becomes Ajayashraddha (long last 'a'), 'she who has
invincible/unconquered faith' (private preceptor Kalyanasri)

public preceptor Padmasuri:
Sue Westbury becomes Viryajyoti (long 'i's and 'a'), 'she who has the
light/radiance of energy in pursuit of the good' (private preceptor

Gail Abbott becomes Vilokini (long last 'i'), 'she who looks, sees,
considers, reflects, is aware' (private preceptor Vajrapushpa)

public preceptor Ratnadharini:
Chris Zakorchemney becomes Amaladevi (long 'i'), 'pure, stainless devi'
(private preceptor Maitreyi)

Julia Simnet becomes Karunavapi (long second and third 'a's and 'i'),
'she who is a lake of compassion' (private preceptor Padmasuri)

Hayley Morris becomes Karunavajri (long second 'a', and 'i'), 'she who
has a vajra of compassion' (private preceptor Dharmottara)


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FWBO News in Spanish - and the Dharma in translation...

Visitors to the FWBO News website can scroll down below the latest story to see – among many other things – an ongoing list of where the site’s visitors have come from. This currently stands at a little over 23,000 since November 2007 – from no less than 134 countries. That’s not surprising, given the international nature of the internet and the fact the FWBO/TBMSG have centres or groups in some 25 countries.

However, of course many people who are part of our Sangha don’t speak English – including many from the Spanish-speaking world. And so Moksananda, an English Order Member who has lived for many years in Spain, has begun translating selected stories from FWBO News into Spanish. Recent posts include Arte Dalit; Hacer que el Dharma trabaje; and En Krakow - polvo, ruido, sudor y alegría...

FWBO News would be very happy to hear of any other translation initiatives going on at FWBO/TBMSG centres.

FWBO News maintains a substantial database which attempts to list all existing translations of all FWBO Dharma of all sorts into all languages world-wide. This is available on the Resources tab of the site - see FWBO Translations here. This can be downloaded for ease of reference, and again, updates are welcome.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

FWBO Home page now available in Russian

A new translation of the FWBO's main website,, has been launched, this time in Russian. The address is -

As with the other versions of, the site carries information on basic Buddhism, meditation practices, and the FWBO's distinctive approach, as well as a short biography of Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO.

Russian is of course not the only languaged into which the FWBO's website has been translated; below is a list of some others -

The FWBO's Wildmind meditation website is available in many of the above languages plus Portuguese.

See our contacts section for a fuller list and for details of the local centres in each country...

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Two new Spanish retreat venues

Two new retreat venues run by members of the Western Buddhist Order are emerging in the Spanish mountains.

Amitavati, which means 'full of boundless possibilities', is the home and rural retreat centre of Suratna and Vidyasri, two ordained members of the Western Buddhist Order. They ‘retired’ there from the UK a year ago and now offer a range of retreats in their working smallholding up in the hills near the small town of Villar-del-Arzobispo in the hinterland of Valencia, Spain.

Reflecting the special interests of Suratna and Vidyasri, their retreats include meditation retreats, shamanic journeying, drumming, painting and sculpture and working retreats. Above all, however, their retreats are designed to bring visitors into intimate contact with the land and its resources.

December saw their first working retreat, which they were delighted with – and which is bearing fruit with others thinking of buying land nearby. In addition their newest urban FWBO Centre, in Valencia, use the facilities for some weekends and for Order gatherings, and links with local people are developing with plans made for teaching meditation classes in the village when their Spanish is good enough.

Check their very beautiful website at which contains full details of events and travel information.

Ecodharma retreat facilities in the mountains
More remote, in altogether more wild and mountainous country, Guhyapati has been developing an ‘eco-Dharma retreat centre in the hills behind Isona, some three hours from Barcelona. His work as a professional mountain guide (see has given him an intimate knowledge of the mountains; he has used this as a base to develop facilities for an ‘ecodharma’ retreat centre, which now offers long solitary retreats and has for the past two years hosted the ‘Redwoods’, a group of Order Members who meet annually to practice together in the context of a shared commitment to and love of the environment .

The small whitish dot on the tip of the plateau beneath the middle mountain is the retreat venue...

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Valencia's prison program

The FWBO's Valencia Buddhist Centre, in Spain, recently celebrated the start of the third year of their prison visiting program, dubbed the ‘Wheel of Life’ project. By all accounts it has been a ground-breaking success, both for the Buddhist centre, the inmates, and the Spanish prison authorities. They teach meditation and Dharma in Picassent prison, where they are the first to be permitted to work with the Basque prisoners from ETA.

Saddhakara, the Centre’s chairwoman, has written an account of the project’s history which you can find on the FWBO Prison Dharma website. Here you can find reports from most of the FWBO’s prison visiting programs, especially those in the US.

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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.

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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

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