Uttaraloka is a ‘Forest Hermitage’. The ‘Forest’ life is an exploration of the Buddha’s exhortation to “go to the forest, or to a root of a tree, or to an empty hut, to sit down with folded legs, set one’s body erect and, having established mindfulness, to withdraw from the senses” so as to enter dhyana and/or gain insight. Manjuvajra, a long time member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, lives here as caretaker and invites other men to join him for various periods of time, usually as part of a small community, to live a simple life away from the ‘world’ – the complexities and distractions of normal life.
Every year there will be one or two three-month retreats for a total of five men.The retreats are not teaching retreats, nor are they specifically for meditation or study – although there is time for study, and meditation is strongly represented in the daily program. The purpose of the retreats is simply to leave behind one’s normal life; in Buddhist terms – to Go Forth from the World – to go to the ‘Forest’. The facilities are quite basic; personal accommodation is in either one of two wooden cabins or one of two rooms in a small casita; the main house provides kitchen, dining and sitting rooms as well as the beautiful shrine room.On retreat we live as a community (in this respect it is different from the solitary retreats for which Guhyaloka also provides); we prepare food for each other, eat together and depending on the decisions of the community at any time, we also include devotional practices and discussion or study groups. On a typical day we rise at 6:30 meditate for 90mins, have breakfast, a work period, meditate before lunch and, after lunch, a break until we meditate again before dinner at 6pm, followed by a puja, study or a weekly community meeting. There is a period of silence every day and – again at the choice of the community – much longer periods, even for several weeks at a time. To help maintain and develop Uttaraloka, and keep us physically fit, there is also a daily work period of an hour or so. The only understanding is that one does not leave the mountains or have any contact with your ‘normal world’.
The inspiration for Uttaraloka comes from the ideal which is simply and beautifully described in the Culagosingha Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya (31)
Retreats at Uttaraloka are by invitation but if you are interested please contact Manjuvajra for more information.
The cost of the retreat is made of of two parts – 100 Euros a week to cover basic costs and a voluntary additional donation to help support the development of Uttaraloka.