Monday, 6 September 2010

Buddhafield East

Buddha-kᚣetra ( Sanskrit, Buddha-field ).
The sphere of influence and activity of a Buddha.

The last August bank holiday weekend each year plays host to this beautiful event in Suffolk which is part retreat and part festival. It has quickly become one of the highlights of my year; expansive in it's teachings and practices of Buddhism yet small enough to eat meals with everyone there, choose from one of the many fascinating workshops and also to stay warm enough round a beautiful evening fire.

My intial Buddhafield East last summer transpired to be the first time ever that I had arrived at an event not knowing anyone there, yet immediately felt completely at ease. Incredible! The team of volunteer organisers have created such a uniquely relaxed and accepting atmosphere that you can't help but feel connected to the whole event and the community of people sharing it.

A typical day in the Buddhafield may begin by waking early for a 7.30am meditation in the Rainbow Shrine tent. It is always a joy to meditate with others but there is something extra special about doing so shortly after waking from a nights sleep. Breakfast cooked by the crew would then be served and leisurely tea enjoyed around the fire before a collective meeting to establish the days events and workshops.

On retreat I always like to participate in the voluntary workgroups which involve anything you choose; from preparing food, composting, supporting the children's area or washing up. It is always so good to get to know other people through sharing a task and participating in the running of the festival creates a harmonious feel amongst the community.

This year Saddhaloka (author of 'Encounters with Enlightenment') gave captivating daily talks on aspects of the Dharma, enchantingly bringing to life stories from the Pali Canon, which was followed by small Order member led discussion groups. Both the talks and the discussion groups provide an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding and pose questions which arise.

The afternoons are resplendent with an array of workshops to select from, including energy workshops, yoga, capoeira, Non-Violent Communication, singing, drumming and there are three different healing tents from which you can experience a free shiatsu session included in the ticket price. How amazing is that! I haven't even mentioned the children's activities scheduled throughout the day but bringing children is an absolute joy with the freedom for kids to play safely and also come together to create some of the most hilarious yet simultaneously poignant drama productions on the life of the Buddha. With a four or five piece Eastern European accompaniment too!

Relaxing evenings spent in the sauna, hot tubs, singing around the fire, sharing moments and laughter really create the depth of a wider Sangha. All of it produced by the dedication of a team of volunteers so committed to co-creating the positive sphere of influence of the three jewels in which all can develop.