Saturday, June 18, 2011

News of Metta Vihara: construction work begins!

Parina writes from the Netherlands with news of Metta Vihara, Triratna’s new retreat centre in Europe’s Low Countries, saying:

“On June 20th Metta Vihara finally starts to build our new retreat centre!  It’s taken us over 5 years to find a good location and 2 years of preparation for the building project, but here we are: it is actually happening!  There’s no need to tell you all that starting a project like this means a lot of patience, persistence and faith.  Sometimes it is good not to know what is coming next!

“We have felt many times that Mara is trying everything to obstruct our initiative. To mention a few: we found asbestos when demolishing the old barns and that meant a delay and 35,000 extra euros to remove it.   Then the local authorities made some mistakes that delayed us by 3 months.  Also the first design was too expensive so we had to start all over again. But... we didn't let ourselves be discouraged and moved on.

“The photograph shows an architect’s impression of the new retreat’s centre design (with its many white windows), set in its actual landscape.  We think it might be the first purpose-built retreat centre of the Movement. Are we right?  It is designed by Peter van Assche who has been a mitra for many years and an outstanding architect. He likes to think “out of the box”- an approach which is visible in the form and materials he uses.  One of his statements about this building is that it has a beauty that is not too comfortable: it may even be confronting but it is a beauty that can help the guests experience or learn things on a deeper level, out of their comfort zone.

“The retreat centre will have a capacity of 22 guests in either one or two person bedrooms, plus a shrine room, dining room and library. We will use it for our ‘own’ retreats - we run over 20 per year already - and we will rent it out to other Buddhist and non-Buddhist groups as well.

“So, on June 19th we will celebrate the start of the building with a ritual called "the first stone"  by Dhammaketu and Vajragita who are two of the founders of Triratna in the Netherlands and Belgium. A touring car with Sangha members from Amsterdam and Utrecht and many friends from Gent will come and we have invited the whole of the local (small) village to join us.

“We are very much looking forward to this ritual since it is also a way to express our gratitude to everyone who has been of great help for us, in all different ways.  We will keep you posted in the coming months of the progress we make!

“With metta, Parina”

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