Bye bye Perdy

349_46948492104_5315_nI no longer live at Bodhi Khaya. Ever so slowly I come to grips with what this means for me. I ponder the experiences that were my life at the beautiful Bodhi Khaya. I recall the first blog I wrote there (“Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!”) and the incredible joy it gave me.

Fun was definitely part of living there with David, Chantel, Siobhan and Tom (lately with Georgina and John too). Getting to know and love the staff and colleagues as individuals. Each with their unique way of being.

Learning from Lize, an enduring part of our team – always included when we partied at home or in Baardeskeerdersbos around the pool table. Due to an ill spent youth, a natural pool player I am not! No amount of expert instruction from David and the girls, Chantel and Siobhan, was able to overcome this handicap. I confess I have left BKR as cueless as when I arrived!

Meeting countless visitors who graced us with their presence for weekend retreats or nurturing mid-week breaks was an enriching experience. Also humbling and awe-inspiring. Often I looked up from my work to recognize a familiar face or spotted a name I knew in the e-mails I answered. People from many different phases of my life touching my life again briefly.

Mostly I long for the morning practice David and I loved. Sitting in the meditation hall for half an hour every morning – come rain or shine. Uttering the same solution to a challenge, as we high-fived! Strolling in the garden, as he gathered leaves for the now famous green juice.

My body remembers the countless walks Jan and I enjoyed as we watched Georgina’s pod grow and take shape in its magical location amongst the trees. A picture of Ringu Tulku in his traditional robes, modern branded sweat shirt and jaunty brolley negotiating the wet patches on the path next to the water lily swimming dam, is etched in my memory.

I want to recreate the meditation hall “stoep” with those deep comfortable sofas and chairs. A place to read and be. For the time being also the place I sit in the mornings wrapped in my luscious purple blanket shawl my colleagues gave me as a parting gift.

As I enjoy a leisurely breakfast across the bay I feel Bodhi Khaya in the distance and reflect on previous times I sat there and felt one with, and responsible for, the place I then called home. I no longer physically live or work there, but in my heart, I carry that exceptional place with all its special people and happenings with me. It is now a part of me. I have been gifted with growth, lessons and the opportunity to help create a spiritual home for others. For this I am most grateful.

Thank you Bodhi Khaya and all who lived and worked with me for accepting and loving me. Allowing me to call Bodhi Khaya my home.

Bye bye Perdy's toes

Bye bye Perdy’s toes

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

My Highlight of 2012: a 5-day Silent Retreat at Bodhi Khaya

I was fortunate enough to secure a last-minute space on the long-weekend silent retreat that Sue Cooper facilitated at the beautiful Bodhi Khaya in the run-up to Christmas, and it has got to rank up there as my number one experience of last year.

2012 was a year of huge change and upheaval for me, on many different levels, what with moving house twice, the loss of my very precious Granny, and a number of other personal challenges. So when I read about this retreat, entitled ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Change’, I leapt at the opportunity to attend – even though it was just a week before it was due to run. Sue very gently let me know that it had been booked out for months already, but assured me that she’d get in touch if there was a cancellation. I can’t recall the last time I put as much energy into willing this to happen as I did that week, and with just days to go, I got the beautiful phone call to tell me that there had indeed been a cancellation, and I’d better pack my bags.

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I’ve attended a semi-silent retreat before, with Cheryl Lancellas of SA Yoga Safaris at the Blue Butterfly Resort in Tulbagh (with my yoga besties, Nicole Shea and Leli Hoch) but never anything as intense as this promised to be, so there was an element of apprehension as the time drew closer, however this was replaced by a huge sense of relief, gratitude and curiosity as the day dawned. As I took the turn-off to Bodhi Khaya, between Gansbaai and Stanford, it struck me that this was exactly the road on which our very special family friends, the Harrods, used to own a farm called Grootbos (next door to what is now a game reserve by the same name), and as I drove into the actual gates of Bodhi Khaya, I realised that this was, indeed, the farm that the Harrods had owned a number of years back. It was an emotional realisation and led to an overwhelming feeling of coming home, of belonging, of being safe, and of being exactly where I was supposed to be. The last time I’d been on the farm was around 1998 or 1999, just before I left to go to London, and yet it felt like yesterday. At the time, I was in the process of getting over a very painful breakup, and I remember how the peace, quiet and beauty of the farm and its surrounds were like a balm to my raw emotions. And here I was again, feeling decidedly delicate, and once again almost felt that my breath was taken away by the natural beauty of the place.

The retreat was the most amazing, uplifting, healing and enlightening experience that I have ever had. The silence was simultaneously challenging and beautiful, and I honestly have never been in a place that appealed to my senses on so many levels and in such an intense manner. The crisp white bed linen, the green of the trees, the flavours and textures of the exquisite food that we were presented with each day, the blue of the sky, the silky feeling of the water in the two mountain ponds, the pinks of the water lilies, the breeze on my skin as we did Chi Kung under the swaying trees, the smell of the incense as we sat down to each of the many meditation sessions that took place each day, the sensation of the grass crunching underfoot as I walked to the horses’ paddock and the roughness of the path as I walked the labyrinth, the feeling of my yoga mat underfoot as I practiced every day, the sound of the chickens clucking as I lay on my back looking up at the clouds in the day and the sound of the night jars as I lay on my back looking up at the stars at night.. perhaps it was the silence that seemed to enhance everything about the long weekend. Whatever the reason, it was a tonic and a privilege to experience.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, of course – being alone with one’s self for such an extended period of time, and without all the usual distractions, means that you have no choice but to sit down with all the different emotions and issues that may arise, look them squarely in the eye, and figure out how it is that you are going to move forward embracing these things rather than trying to push them out of the way or pretend that they don’t exist. It was a safe and nurturing environment in which to do this, and I came away from it with a deep sense of peace and acceptance, as well as forgiveness – for others that I may have been harbouring anger and resentment towards for a long time, but specifically forgiveness for myself, for all the ‘wrong’ decisions and actions that I may have made and done in the past, and that I’m no doubt still going to make and do in the future. The theme may have been ‘finding balance in the midst of change’ but one of the biggest things that I got out of it was a rediscovery of what it feels like to be kind and compassionate towards myself. Sue, wonderful Sue, refers to ‘holding oneself in an embrace of compassionate awareness’, and this is something that I have carried with me every day since I got back.

On the last day, when we were permitted to talk again, I found that I just wasn’t ready for it. The chat seemed so noisy, so superficial, so intrusive. It took me a number of hours before I felt that I was ready to re-enter the ‘normal’ world, and to leave the magical playground of Bodhi Khaya / Grootbos behind, but of course life doesn’t stop – even though it did feel like a period of suspended reality – and now the on-going challenge is to attempt to maintain the same level of awareness, consciousness and mindfulness as I walk through my regular life. I have already signed up to go to Sue’s next silent retreat in the run-up to Christmas this year, and I cannot wait!

by Nicci Cloete

My week at Bodhi Khaya

It was an instant sense of calm after the hurried pace of Cape Town (Yes, Cape Town can be hurried) getting to Bodhi Khaya. Kind faces, a warm fire, a lovely chat and crisp linen on a beautiful bed to rest in, what bliss.

Weaving our trails

I woke up to weaver birds weaving their nests, mastering the craft of weaving nests for future weaver bird families, happily busy, following their sense of purpose and I reflected on what I get busy at, my sense of purpose. How happy I am weaving the life I lead. With that thought we had a delicious breakfast and decided to do the turquoise trail. Veronica, Chanti and I packed a coupla chocolates in our bag, 3 bananas and some water and ambled along the trail. We passed through fields of Ericas found only there in the entire world. We negotiated not stepping in baboon poo and reached the Milkwood trees forest.  Quietly and regally stood the beautiful Milkwood Queen, her branches extending, calling us to give her a hug and climb her branches. And we did. We remembered the friends who would have loved to be there with us and took some pictures for them and continued along, passing springbok spoor, baboon spoor and responding to the calls of the birds along the way. We crossed wooden bridges, walked through streams and arrived at the Grotto, where we were sure we saw tree and forest sprites showing us their forms while we rested by the stream and sat on mossy rocks. Thinking we were now near the end of this beautiful hike we agreed to follow another trail, not realising that it took us uphill. We climbed and what beauty awaited us- beautiful orangey gold pincushions, paving our way with flowery golden sunsets. Happily tired we went back to delicious lunch and a snooze.

Whale watching

Close to Bodhi Khaya is a place where the sea water turns from a turquoise to a deep blue and sometimes shimmers with gold and flecks of green, if you are lucky whales and dolphins come out to play just at the moment you look in the direction of a darker wave. You can stay for hours looking out into the sea, watching for whales, watching the sea change colour and the deep sense of expansiveness from the sea starts to seep into your soul and you know that you are a part of the sea and the sea is a part of you.

Archery

The Bodhi Khaya archery range is an evolving archery range. The haystack targets initially used were eaten up by the errant cows who have decided to go visiting next door. So the targets change and evolve as cows eat them up, or they get blown away. What is constant is that there is a target and there is a bow and an arrow and some great people who patiently and happily allow you to shoot your arrows in the general right direction. With patience, practice and focus, you learn.

by Menaka Jayakody

Homeward Bound – Walking The Path At Bodhi Khaya

Returning to the national treasure that is Bodhi Khaya, suffuses my Being with a feeling of generous Homecoming..

Whatever my days have been this last while – easy or not-easy – I will be driving the dusty roads to The Khaya in bubbling anticipation. I will have time to notice the spectacular environment all around me – thankfully so free of human noise, congestion and so-called ‘progress’. Infinite blueness of sky above – earth roads below – and the green fynbos stretching down the valleys .

I am in my right place, entering this known and loved place of imposing trees,  whitewashed homesteads and outbuildings.

Breathing surrenders its reticence. Eyes feel soft, kind. Pausing to hear the myriad natural sounds – bird callings, leaf rustlings, taps, scrapes, someone humming near the labyrinth.

This is Home. Home is where I can breathe life – fresh air – immense sky, silence and solitude. Where I can stroll in the sweet companionship of strong, tall trees, blossoms and bees. Where my feet love their sole and roll on cool grass, moist earth; and my legs have respite from the stress and strain of tarmac, tiled shopping malls, and the insane impact of speeding cars and congestion. Coming Home into the deep core of myself. Walking away from the un-Nature-al, un-human-friendly aspects of our consumer, technological Age.

Homeward bound

AH – God – Goddess – Great Spirit of Grace, Abundance – I step through a known and welcoming domain to greet, smile – and feel At Home.

So it has been every time I set foot here on this cosseted place of Mother Earth. And all will again be so when I arrive once more to share ‘The Art of Walking – Walking the Sacred Way’ with March 16-18 weekend Workshop retreatants. What gifts in store as we stroll,  exploring walks and walking in the richness of this environment. What utterly necessary gifts to have the time to re-find the pleasure and peace of Walking without haste, attentively, aware.  Body becoming centred, grounded, light, mobile, free.  Heart and mind falling into sync with such natural, effortless Beingness.

We shall be Walking Bodhi Khaya Together, Friday to Sunday – 16 to18th. Finding our Goddess-given Poise and Balance. Refining and honing our walking skills and patterns, our elegant mobility. Trailing winding paths in quiet attentiveness. Feelings, senses alive and alert – witnessing all. Manifesting the profound relaxedness that comes from every step, every cell, every thought being in harmony. Exploring all that is in this here and now. Discovering the next constructive step – and the next. Expansive, embodied, embedded, Conscious Awareness.

My homing radar is ‘ON!’ I’m coming home! Not only to the sacred space of Bodhi Khaya and its band of caretakers – but home to mySelf, to whom I am when I can drop the masks, the coping, the trying, the habits, demands, conditioning.

Walking the Sacred Way  – in Lightness, Intelligence, Kindness – Marguerite Osler

 ‘Let all movement

Gently yield

Something of

God’

HAFIZ

 

Green Juice Anyone?

A morning ritual… everyone has one! Whether it is putting on your socks left foot first, combing your hair in a particular way or opening the paper to your favourite section, we all partake in habitual practices that make up our daily lives.

Our mornings at Bodhi Khaya are no different. Meditation is at 7:30 followed by breakfast. However, there is something really special that accompanies our morning nosh and any visitor is well aware of this daily indulgence. This is our green juice –  courtesy of our beloved retreat manager, David Francisco.  A delightful concoction that not only vitalizes our stomachs, but our morning repertoire as well –  handpicked in our beautiful veggie garden immediately before its consumption.  Nothing gets more local, fresh, or more wholesome than this glass of green liquid.

Most days it elicits smiles all around. However, on other occasions, it has been known to make faces pucker, nostrils flare and eyes wince. Nonetheless, we all consume, whether it is just a polite sip, half a glass or gulping down the whole offered glass.  We do indeed look forward to our morning green creation (almost as much as Perdita does her double-cream Greek yogurt!).

A man that prefers a blender over a juicer, David’s daily trip to the garden to procure the day’s juice ingredients is a ritual we have all come to love. Ingredients usually include spinach, beetroot greens, carrots, apple and sometimes nasturtiums. He has even been known to slip thistle, broccoli leaves and elderflowers into his blended concoctions. Or, if truth be told, pretty much anything else that meets his fancy. The benefits of this daily beverage include:  adding to our physical as well as mental wellbeing; our sense of community as well as acting as a connecting force to the land that we are fortunate enough to live on where we grow our daily sustenance.  For me nothing is more satisfying and ultimately more refreshing than gulping down or feeding oneself with a glass of self-produced and pesticide-free nourishment. This is definitely food for the soul and keeps us going in our pursuit of taking care of Bodhi Khaya and maintaining its beauty.

So next time you find yourself at Bodhi Khaya amongst the beautiful fynbos, fresh air and golden light make sure to partake in this morning ritual of ours. Call on the master himself (sometimes playfully called the Green Hulk because of his love of the character as well as his unique green juice) to whip you up this tasty treat, fresh from the garden.  I say we should all have such a healthy morning practice. Whether it is merely reflecting on one’s wellbeing or actively consuming a green breakfast – engaging in such a healthy, sustainable daily practice bodes well not only for oneself, but for the planet as well.

 I’ll toast to that!

Miranda Whist spent some time here at Bodhi Khaya. She loved  the veggie garden and wowed us with her lovely culinary delights.

What better place to study the Heart Sutra?

Leaving Stanford ,meandering along the narrow Walker Bay coast road, the complexity and intricacy of daily life falls away behind you.

 The drive to Bodhi Khaya is dazzling.  The dirt road through the milk wood forest and fynbos is winding, undulating -urging you to slow down.  The strong smell of Cape fynbos and the sour odour of milk woods is thick in the air.  You ‘drop down’ onto Bodhi Khaya almost unexpectedly; a sudden dip down in the road and there it is, below you.   Very green and secluded, Bodhi Khaya is a beautiful old farm dating back to 1791.  Now converted to a retreat centre, it is a sanctuary, a peaceful haven to rest and reflect.

 What better place to study the Heart Sutra?

What better place?

Buddhist monk, Gen Kelsang Sangdak, who is the Resident Teacher at Mahasiddha Kadampa Buddhist Centre in Durban and the National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition in South Africa lead the retreat.

The Buddhist text , the Heart Sutra,  is the distillation of all teachings on Emptiness. “Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness”

 Understanding the fundamental truth of the Buddhist teachings on emptiness is an incredibly profound subject.   There are no forms (things) that are not empty; and there is no emptiness that exists in and of itself.

 The word “emptiness” is a Buddhist philosophical term that in this context has nothing to do with “nothingness”, but is a way of describing how things exist from an ultimate point of view, to find their true nature or ultimate way of existing.

The challenge is always how to use teachings in daily life.  To understand the Heart Sutra is  wonderful -to know fully that no thing, including us, our mind or our existence, has any solid substance  or permanence, that nothing in this world is independent but rather interconnected – in a constant state of change.  But how to maintain the concentration on emptiness?

After thinking about the Heart Sutra and how to use it whilst preparing this blog, I came to a personal realization that our mind should not only be grounded in emptiness but also in compassion.

 We all try so hard to achieve a perfect life, practicing  the Heart Sutra, getting the kids to school in time, cooking perfect scrambled eggs, making important decisions, focusing on compassion.  Sometimes we get it right, sometimes it all goes wrong!  Accepting ourselves we can also see that, even when something goes wrong and we know what we have done is wrong, if we have the right intention and some understanding of the true nature of things, a ‘wrong’ can also just be a fleeting moment  with no permanent nor independent existence.  Accepting ourselves in those ‘wrong’ moments, it will be so much easier to have love and compassion for others.

Gen Sangdak has returned to Durban. Those interested, have the opportunity to continue learning with resident teacher, Gen Pagpa.   http://www.meditateincapetown.org

Maja Heynecke

Homeward Bound At Bodhi Khaya

I follow the path beside the lily ponds. A grey heron, disturbed, lifts off in silent flight. The sun is warm, still casting long shadows. I round the corner of the “Farm Loop”  and hear a cough. a solitary bark, it’s very close. I wait, expecting the clatter and chatter of baboons but nothing stirs. An image, a recollection of a ‘spoor’ on yesterday’s walk, which I had pondered. Could it be? Yes, it could. A leopard, master of stealth and camouflage, watching me. I stand in awe then quietly take my leave. Dressed in sage green I hope I look like a helichrysum blowing up the hill.

 A watery, bubbling call from the shallow ravine. A ‘Transvaal’ sound before the rain, a “bottle bird”, the Burchell’s coucal, flutters into view and perches on a naked branch. It calls more stridently and is answered from below. A conversation continues. The Cape sugar bird loops in and out of the proteas trailing its long wispy tail, a cisticola ‘zits and tseeps’ beside me and the swallows swoop above.

The road is bright with flowers. Scabiosa in their gentle violet-blue, the colour of my grandmother’s eyes, magenta lachenalia, pelargoniums delicate and white, and tiny wild lobelia.

Pincushions make a fiery splash amongst the mountain’s grays and yellows and greens. I feel sad that they get picked and isolated in a vase, their majesty and drama lost, like a thread pulled from a tapestry and set aside.

 I see the sea, the coast, the dunes, beneath a vast expanse of sky.

 Onward and upward. White rocks tossed and strewn by some great force.

Then in the stillness, a tiny steenbok heads towards me, nibbling fresh shoots, oblivious of my presence. But now she stops and sniffs the air. I stand stock still and hope she won’t turn tail and bolt.

Ears twitch, she knows I’m there, she looks, and looks again, and slowly  walks away.

 The ‘Fynbos Trail’ is beckoning me…just one more corner, another view, but I am not equiped to walk all day.

 I’m ‘homeward bound’, down into the valley to the containment  of the white walled buildings, the centre of gentle activity and generosity of spirit. It’s a welcome place to come back to.

 Thank you, Bodhi Khaya and all who live and work there.

 Di Steward visited Bodhi Khaya for a self-retreat during November 2011