Bodhichitta Land: A Place for Sincere Retreat
There is a growing reality that the West cannot continue to rely solely on Tibetan teachers coming over from the East but has to be able to produce its own realized teachers. Part of this means having adequate retreat facilities for deep long term meditation.
For that purpose Nalanda Monastery has a retreat cabin in the French Pyrenees in an ideal tranquil spot, in the heart of nature, far from the uproar of the market place and with spacious views of the chain of snowy mountains, which forms the border between France and Spain.
The cabin sits peacefully at 3,000ft in the Pyrenees and accessible only by foot. The walk takes near to one hour from the nearest small village navigating streams and steep terrain.
The cabin also serves as a retreat place for Nalanda Monastery, for the monks who study FPMT Basic Program, and are required to complete 3 month’s retreat, and Masters Program students, who are required to complete a 1 year retreat. The cabin has undergone several successful renovations in the last few years, including roof and window renovations.
A Brief Visit
I had the fortune to visit Geshe Losel, also known as Geshe Graham Woodhouse in October 2019. Geshe Losel has lived in Bodhichitta Land for over a year focused on making faithful translations of important Tibetan Buddhist texts.
We want to continue to improve conditions and offer the best insulation we can at the cabin. Previous successful work has been completed but there is still some heat escaping through some parts of the walls.
I visited again the next month. This time there were hundreds of flies inside the meditation room which also acts as a bedroom. There were so many flies all you could hear was a loud buzzing sound. The flies are entering through small gaps in the back wall.
This of course is not conducive for the practitioners who use this amazing place for retreat.
This of course is not hygienic for the practitioners who use this amazing place for retreat.
The Work Needed
I created this fundraising campaign because I felt as winter is here, if we can do something to help these special practitioners keep warm and live in cleaner conditions then we should do what we can. We will also be contributing to the future of Bodhichitta Land to enable future generations to practise here in comfort.
The upper part of the back, north-facing, end wall of the Bodhichitta Land cabin is made of dried mud filling in the spaces between the wooden structure of pillars and cross pieces. It needs sealing and weatherproofing.
There are cracks, gaps and loose boards. Very many flies get into the upper part of the house. This work will hopefully keep them out.
The outside of the north wall of the cabin will be finished with a 1 to 2 cm thick coat of durable and waterproof lime plaster (lime and sand). That end of the roof and the chimney will be checked at the same time and repaired, weather-proofed and strengthened as necessary. The inside of the north wall upstairs will be finished with a thinner coat of the same material.
Also, the upstairs section of the chimney from the downstairs fireplace and stoves, at the moment bare brick, will be plastered, primed and painted. A special primer is required to prevent the soot stains coming through the bricks showing inside the room. Almost all natural materials will be used. If possible the plaster work will be carried out by monastery volunteers, who have the necessary expertise.
Two capable people with knowledge of plastering and house carpentry have volunteered their skills for free. This will be a great cost saving. The cabin is around an hour walk off-road, up a steep and often wet path, so there will be extra cost of bringing materials up from the road head by horse.
By giving generously, your donation will go directly to improve conditions at Bodhichitta Land and help to produce fully educated and trained western sangha for generations to come!
Your help is greatly appreciated many many thanks for your generosity!