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The new year is well and truly underway and the community of 3 is fully occupied with the ‘work-in’ … three weeks of working with volunteers to prepare the retreat centre for the season ahead.
So, who is in community at the moment ? Well, the resident community currently is Manigarbha, Mumukshu and me – Acalavajri. This is going to change though later in the year as Manigarbha has sadly made the decision to leave the community. She will be returning the Netherlands to support activities there. So we are getting used to that news and at the same time hoping that we will have a new community member to fill the gap (if thats possible).
The three of us were reunited back on the mountain in February having spent time off the mountain visiting with family, friends or going on retreat. It was good to be reunited again and catch up with each others news and we welcomed Maitreyi to the community at the end of February for a weeks ‘presidential visit’. We did some study as well as hanging out together. She was inducted into life on the mountain when the snow falls …. and she only just made it off the mountain when it was time to leave. We were also able to begin looking at what 2016 may bring – and its really exciting, though a little daunting too. Not only do we have another full retreat programme there are many projects that will hopefully come to fruition in 2016.
Firstly though – the retreats. There is one retreat this year which is open to all Dharmacarinis. Vijayamala, Srisambhava and Moksanandi will be here for two weeks from 21st September to 5th October leading a retreat entitled ‘Deepening Freedom’, which will be an exploration of Sadhana and Insight in what they have called ‘the sky palace of Akashavana’. Check out the website for more information.
The others are by invitation only but still keep us busy The first of which is the three month ordination course which starts early next month … there are 16 ordinands who will be led through the course by a team of 5 led once again by Padmasuri. This is the biggest number of ordinands for a few years and it will be great to see them all join the order. Then we welcome back those who were ordained here in 2011 for their ‘Reunion Retreat’. This years feels particularly poignant as it was the first time that Manigarbha and I were supporting an Ordination Retreat when we came as volunteers that year.
September sees the 2 week Ordination retreat and the calendar is rounded off with a new initiative from Maitreyi. Excitingly, she is having a 3 week retreat here with the women she has privately ordained – well, as many of them as can possibly come. She is expecting quite a good turn out and we are already starting to take bookings.
Secondly, the projects … our first project has been successfully completed. We have a new car !!! Our trusty white Berlingo is leaving us and is replaced with another Berlingo half its age and one that has heating !!! No longer do we have to travel in the colder months wrapped in blankets and holding hot water bottles (not easy when you need two hands on the steering wheel). Happily we sold the white Berlingo to Rujimati and Siddhisvari (in Barcelona), so she is staying in the ‘family’.
Our next project, currently underway, is building a new space at the retreat centre … We are having help with the construction (when the weather allows), but the design is ours. We cannot say more at this time – you will just have to come and see what it is and where it is ….
The next project should be fitting in towards the end of the month – solar water heaters are to be installed at the retreat centre AND at the community. These improvements have only been made possible by the fantastic fundraising achievement of Santacitta and all those who kindly donated.
These installations will save us money on bottled gas which we currently use to heat water … and will help save some of the earths precious resources. Thanks.
I guess the biggest project by far – is the proposed building of two solitary cabins this summer. They will be built using straw bales and once again we will be indebted to a vast team of volunteers who will be coming in to help us with the construction. We will have Barbara Jones and ‘Strawworks’ in tutorship throughout the build, so we are in good hands and we will be learning lots of new skills.
Finally, we will get to tick off one of the prime objectives for Akashavana – that of offering women the opportunity to come to these mountains for a solitary experience. With being able to build 2 cabins …. we may be able to offer longer solitaries in one as well as the more usual 2-3 weeks in the other. We will let you know when we will be in a position to take your booking !!
So, thats it for now – hope to see some of you at the Convention in the Summer.