If you need a gentle, sympathetic space where you can be still and get in touch with yourself and reflect on the things that crowd your life, you will find it at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal.
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system, the BRC looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills which are grass-covered and rolling, and lovely beyond any singing of it. [Alan Paton in Cry the Beloved Country, set in this area]. Here, in over 300 acres of glorious countryside, one finds ancient wagon tracks left by the early Voortrekkers, 160 species of birds including the exquisite but endangered Blue Swallow, the occasional deer grazing and otter swimming in the dam. The BRCs commitment to encouraging the indigenous biodiversity of the area has led to the property being declared a Natural Heritage Site by former President Nelson Mandela.
The BRC was founded by Louis van Loon in 1980. His interests lie in the psychology of meditation and in the relationship between art, science, religion and philosophy. He lectured in Buddhist philosophy at the Universities of Cape Town and Durban-Westville for more than 20 years whilst pursuing his professional practice as an architect and consulting engineer. Since its establishment, the BRC has grown into an internationally renowned Retreat Centre, pioneering a non-sectarian Buddhism that honours all the major traditions whilst encouraging a style of practice that is uniquely suitable for the modern age based, as it must be, on the challenges one faces in ones everyday life. CNN featured the BRC as one of the 10 finest Meditation Centres in the world.
Integrated into its beautiful natural setting are the Centres buildings: accommodation lodges and mountain kutis, a lecture hall and art studio, a library, dining room and office, a shop and the meditation hall. There are Zen raked sand gardens, a stupa [pagoda] and the largest hand-built Buddha statue in the western world. It is an exceptionally beautiful place.
The BRC offers a wide range of retreats and workshops, from seminars on Buddhist philosophy and instruction in traditional meditation techniques to comparative studies in western psychotherapy and their classical eastern equivalents. There are workshops on Japanese brush painting and sketching, bird watching, drumming and kite flying, Tai Chi, Yoga and creative writing, and many more.
Retreats are conducted by both local and international teachers and can last from a weekend to nine days or a month. In between such conducted retreats visitors can enjoy the stunning beauty of the Centre and imbibe the healing gift of the present moment. The BRC is justly famous for its fine lacto-vegetarian cuisine, which includes organically homegrown vegetables and farm-baked bread- all these recipes are featured in the BRCs two successful recipe books "Quiet Food" and "The Cake The Buddha Ate". The rooms are equipped with all necessary linen, blankets towels and heaters.
For detailed brochure and program of retreats, please contact the Centre:
The Buddha Boma: Finished at last – and put to excellent use.
Those of you who have seen the picture Louis drew of how he envisaged the Buddhist Retreat Centre shortly after he had bought the vacant property in 1969 - now hanging in the library - will recall that it shows a meditation pavilion somewhat downhill from where the Buddha statue now stands in the central park. The Boma has now become reality - except that it is in a slightly different place: in the indigenous forest behind the Buddha. It is in a lovely environment. There are the eight trees associated with the major events in the Buddha’s life, making it possible to go on a mini pilgrimage, from his birth and his Enlightenment, to his first sermon and to his paranirvana (death) under a Sal tree. Each corner of the Boma is lined up with one of those trees and events.
PUY’s and Sangha Friends can ensure that the BRC remains amongst the ten best in the world
- as voted by CNN!
If our supporters contributed as little as R10.00 each per month as a Sangha Friend towards the upkeep of the Centre, it would be able to maintain its position as one of the best in the world…. If you would like to be such a Sangha Friend or Paid Up Yogi (PUY), where your contribution pays for your stay “forward”, then please consider joining this fund-raising scheme. Please email us for more details.