I went to see a friend on Sunday who was staying for a few days as a guest at a Amaravati Buddist retreat in Hertfordshire.
Amaravati is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery
More details here http://www.amaravati.org/
Now I am not religious having been to a Catholic school I reckon I have spent enough time on it. This place though is very interesting it looks a little like a holiday park.
|Me in the Gardens - by A. Reid|
Prayer mats and candles give a quiet peaceful air to the temple and the Buddha sits elevated and dominant surveying the view.
Pretty side altars look important, the statues are obviously old but gleam with loving care.
Everywhere is beautifully minimal and because of this the statues seem even more striking.
The Temple is a modern building seen here just behind one of the garden spaces.
There is a feeling of tranquillity here that is enhanced by the design of the place. I felt like I was walking through an out of season exclusive holiday park.
The large bell which is rung at 5am is outside the building where the guests sleep. No chance of not hearing that alarm then. The monks and nuns who live at the retreat are well used to the 5 am wake up. That`s a little early for me I thought only birds woke at that time. Obviously so do the dedicated.
Statutes sit amongst the benches.
It is a large place and anyone who wants to bring some food as a contribution is welcome to join the daily meal at 11 am. The evening meditation session in the Temple each evening is also open to anyone wishing to attend.
My friend says it is very popular. People come for the 11 am meal and stay for hours often until the evening worship. At weekends families come and the place seems very lively then. I left feeling very honoured to have spent some time there.
Gardens and flowers amid the lines of accommodation chalets and study areas.
Staying at the Retreat
My friend says first you need to apply and ask what dates are available. Telephone number is at the top of this post.
You are expected to help with general tasks around the grounds or in the dining room during the morning.
You should make a donation of food on your arrival and the set donation for your stay. People often bring fruit, rice, biscuits etc.
If you are on a low income you can donate what you can afford.
You can attend any of the services you wish.
You have plenty of free time to do what you want. Read in the garden or go for long walks in the beautiful nearby Ashridge National Trust Estate.
You will be not be woken early, most people go to breakfast around 8 am. The dorms are single sex and have showers and toilets. They seems to be very popular.
Families can stay by special arrangement.