News from the recent Young Buddhists Retreat at Metta ViharaOn Sun, 10 May, 2015 - 19:55
Diedrik de Mulder writes….
On the 16th of April 2015, 25 young people arrived in Metta Mihara for a 3 days Young Buddhist retreat about “Spiritual Friendship”. Most participants came from the Netherlands and Belgium, but there was also a small German delegation and one Swiss. Most of us had experience with buddhist practice and/or meditation but some were newbies. As the retreat was overbooked, some slept in a tent in the garden.
Life during a retreat is simple and well structured. The program was well-balanced with a mix of meditation, discussions in small groups, teachings about buddhism and the concept of “Spiritual Friendship”, doing household chores together, free time/rest time, walks/runs in the beautiful area, singing mantra’s, practicing rituals, personal testimonies, moments in silence,…
The dedication ceremony during the first evening, helped to put us it the right mindset:
“Though in the world outside there is strife,
Here may there be peace;
Though in the world outside there is hate
Here may there be love;
Though in the world outside there is grief
Here may there be joy.”
“Kalyana Mitrata” or “spiritual/beautiful friendship” is a crucial aspect of the buddhist path. According to Sangharakshita, we get to know ourself the best in relationship to other people. Others can bring out the worst in us or the best in us. In both cases, it helps us to have a full sense of what lies within us. Spiritual friendship is about the supportive, stimulating and inspiring relationship between the members of the Sangha, people who aspire to the same ideal and follow a common path. For me it’s important to try to extend this kind of pure and authentic friendship to people who do not speak or understand the language of the Dharma.
During the retreat we could put this beautiful insights and ideals into practice and experience it directly. By living together, we could create, for a short moment, a small community where we could feel more trust, support, kindness, depth, openness, care for eachother,… than in most social environments in our daily life. Usually it takes a longer time to create this with a “group of strangers” or it never happens or we can only experience it with close family or with our best friends.
There were some difficult moments too. When we become more quiet and let down our defenses, fear, anger, grief, inner struggles and dilemma’s,… can come up. But the kind support, wisdom and security of the group and the environment help to cope with this and help us to grow out of it.
This is the kind of life and relationships that could help to make the world a better place for all. Because, in the end, we don’t just practice for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all beings.
Thanks to Elfi, Singhamanas, Kusalasara and Mieke for the organisation and the guidance and Sabine and Ellen for the logistic support and care for us.”