In September 2004, Triratna (then the FWBO) became the proud owners of two ruined farmhouses, high in the mountains of Teruel, Spain.
Resident community members Acalavajri and Manigarbha write: “Ten years later, they are home to a thriving community and a remote and beautiful retreat centre: Akashavana, the ‘forest retreat of luminous space’. Primarily for the ordination of women, it also provides an amazing retreat experience for Dharmacharinis.
Over 140 women have had their public ordinations in the beautiful shrine room, where there is now a tangible sense of lineage and depth of practice. The landscape, silence and solitude contribute to magical meditation retreats.
The story starts with the ordination of Vajradevi many years earlier, who was inspired by her preceptor, Sanghadevi, to explore the possibility of Triratna having its own retreat centre for three-month-long ordination retreats for women (maybe even longer one day!) Until then, for many years, most female ordinands in Europe had travelled to Tuscany to be ordained at the semi-ruined monastery of Il Convento di Batignano. It was beautiful, but could be hired for just seven weeks.
So a search began and funds had to be raised. Vajradevi, with a long succession of travelling companions, scoured estate agents’ brochures in France, Portugal and Spain, searching for the ideal location. Others remained in UK and set about inspiring the Movement to donate the funds that would be needed to turn the dream into reality.
It took about four years to find what has now become Akashavana. First seen on Buddha Day 2004, it became ours, the papers signed and sealed, just four months later. Gradually, through the labours of many generous women – and some generous men - a community house and retreat centre rose from the ruins.
The first three-month ordination retreat happened three years later, in 2007, and they’ve taken place every year since – along with some shorter retreats for ordinands for whom three months is not possible, and meditation retreats for Order members.
So many people helped to bring Akashavana into being. As the resident community we hope to care for it so that it remains a beautiful and wild place of retreat for women for many years to come.”