order retreats 2016

For Dharmacharinis:

Deepening Freedom,
an exploration of Sadhana and Insight in the sky palace of Akashavana
A two week meditation retreat

21 September - the 5th October 2016IMG_3486
with Vijayamala, Srisambhava and Moksanandi

The word ‘Sadhana’ refers to the practice we engage with in order to transform and free ourselves. Using traditional ‘visualisation practice’ – no visual ability, or current visualisation practice necessary – as an example, we will bring out the way in which
sadhana can be used as an insight practice in order to:

-      free deeper, more intransigent levels of self-clinging

-      increase the capacity of our hearts to respond, and

-      contact positive forces on deeper levels of mind through adhisthana.

The retreat will be largely in silence to take full advantage of the magnificent conditions available at Akashavana. Short morning presentations will be interspersed with days of full silence, and supported by ritual, mantra chanting and the availability of meditation reviews.

Cost: €644 |540 (concessionary rate)


The retreats below are by invitation only:

IMG_2353Reunion retreat for women ordained at Akashavana in 2011
Ten day retreat

15th – 25th of July 2016

Costs: €460 | €390 (concessionary rate)




Retreat for Dharmacharinis
privately ordained by Maitreyi
Three week retreat

10th - 31 October 2016

Costs €875€760 (concessionary rate)

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If you want to be in touch please write to:

Postal address:

Akashavana retreat centre
Mas de Lluc
44586 Penarroya de Tastavins
Teruel, Spain

0034 978090263 (satellite phone)
00 34 645 353 953 (mobile phone)

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how to book

Please send us an email, community [@] akashavana.org, stating which retreat you are interested in, and we will get back as soon as we can to let you know if there is a space and if so we will ask you to pay a deposit to make your booking definite.

deposit and payment
All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
We ask for a £75 / €100 deposit at the time of booking (or as advised) with the balance being due six weeks before the start of the retreat. We set the cost of the retreat in Euros, but can also take payment in GBP. However, to ensure the exchange rate is as accurate as possible we set it six weeks before the retreat starts. We will let you know the outstanding amount you owe in GBP at that time. Euro payments can be made at any time.

If you are booking within six weeks of the start of the retreat, we’ll ask for the full amount.

how to pay for your retreat
We have two options for payment:


account name: TRIRATNA SARANA
sort code: 30-94-74
account number: 01517319
branch address: Kings Heath, Birmingham
BIC or Swift:  LOYDGB21295
IBAN: GB78 LOYD 3094 7401 5173 19


account name: FWBO SARANA (Fundacion Amigos De La Orden Budistas)
account number: 3080 0036 25 2051476311
IBAN: ES38 3080 0036 25 2051476311

PLEASE PUT YOUR ORDER NAME AS ‘REFERENCE’ WITH THE PAYMENTS AND AT THE SAME TIME SEND US AN EMAIL, INDICATING WHETHER YOU ARE PAYING IN STERLING OR EUROS – We can then link up the payment with your booking. The email address to use is: community [@] akashavana.org

There are various websites which may offer less commission charges than banks which you may want to investigate.

cost of retreats
The cost of each retreat is the first figure. Please pay this rate if you possibly can to help support our activities. The second lower rate is for those on a very low income; (e.g. the unemployed in receipt of benefits and students). Further help can sometimes be arranged by contacting the Taraloka Bursary Fund or the Abhayaratna Trust.

Do let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel as this gives us a much greater chance of offering that place to someone else.

It is essential that you inform us when you book if you have any physical, emotional or mental health issues which could affect your participation in the retreat. Any information given will not be communicated to other retreatants and is treated in the strictest confidence.

We ask you to refrain from sexual activity and also ask you not to use mobile phones, ipods or tablets and laptops during the retreat.

Is shared, please inform us when you book if you are coming with a friend and wish to be accommodated in the same shared bedroom as them.

restricted diets
Can only be catered for genuine medical reasons and we will need to be informed when you first book.



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IMG_4685There are a number of ways to make a donation to help us financially with maintaining and extending the facilities at Akashavana.

The easiest way is make a payment on our just giving page.



Or you can make a payment by bank transfer:

For Sterling donations:
account name: TRIRATNA SARANA
sort code: 30-94-74
account number: 01517319
branch address: Kings Heath, Birmingham
BIC or Swift:  LOYDGB21295
IBAN: GB78 LOYD 3094 7401 5173 19

For Euro donations:
account name: FWBO SARANA (Fundacion Amigos De La Orden Budistas)
account number: 3080 0036 25 2051476311
IBAN: ES38 3080 0036 25 2051476311

UK residents can also support us regularly with standing orders
You can download the form here:

standing order


Akashavana in your will?

Thank you for considering this possibility and do get in touch with us if you wish to talk about legacies and how any bequest might be used. You can bequeath a specific sum, or a proportion of your estate.

Sample text for a will

If you wish to include Akashavana in your will, here is a recommended form of words which you can use:

“I give free of taxes as a charitable bequest (either a specific sum or a proportion of the residuary estate) to Triratna Sarana, a UK Registered Charity No 1014180,  to be used as to both capital and income for the general purposes of Akashavana. I direct that the receipt of the Finance Secretary for the time being or other duly authorised officer shall be a full discharge to my executors.”

The contact details to be written into the Will are: “Website www.akashavana.org.uk (or see up-to-date details for Triratna Sarana at www.charitycommission.gov.uk using the registered number 1014180”

Points to consider when writing a will

  • Appoint two executors (including someone who is good at administrative work, and maybe younger than you).
  • Have one of the executors a friend who really knows you and your connections.
  • Include a small gift or bequest for the executors – it’s a lot of work!
  • Make an allowance for the cost of your funeral – consider a pre-purchase deal which most undertakers offer.
  • Specify your wishes for your funeral. It is important to state that you wish to have a Buddhist Funeral, and to include the contact details of your local buddhist centre. Your family’s wishes take precedence if you haven’t stated your wishes.
  • Keep the Will somewhere where it will be found. Have an ‘In the event of my death’ file, and tell your friends where to find it. Many people ask the solicitor who has helped to draw up their will to hold a copy.


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The basic journey looks like this - 

Arrive in Spain by air, train, ship or coach at least a day ahead

The Spanish bus website is Hife
This means if you are in Barcelona or Tarragona, you will need to catch the following train:

Barcelona Franca 09.19
Barcelona Sants 09.33
Tarragona 10.39
Arrives Tortosa 11.49

This train runs daily including weekends. (it’s final destination is Valencia). It costs about 15 euros and cannot be booked in advance.

If you are coming from another place in Spain you will need to look up connections to Tortosa. The Spanish train website is Renfe There is an option to change the language to English.

(Please all be aware that TORTOSA is where you get off not at L’Aldea Amposta Tortosa – which is the stop before.)

It is about 10 minutes walk from Tortosa train station to the bus station. See map. At both stations there are good cafés for coffee and/or lunch. (and WiFi!)

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 15.25.45

Buy a ticket for Valderrobres at the kiosk (about 6 euros) and take the bus to Valderrobres. This usually leaves from Stand 5, but check with the information office, it may not say Valderrobres on the front.

Departs Tortosa at 13.15 arrives Valderrobres approx 14.20.


In Valderrobres you’ll be met by some people from community at 14.20 for 4×4 trip into the mountains.
You have the option of walking the last 8km (5 miles) up to the retreat centre from Penarroya de Tastavins – we will take your luggage if you choose this option. It is a hilly 2-hour walk, and we will provide directions.

Note for the retreat team or anyone arriving for events other than the start of a retreat: there is only one later bus – Monday to Friday – leaving Tortosa 18.00 arriving Valderrobres 19.05. On Saturdays and Sundays there is no bus service at all. Please get in touch with the community if it looks like you have to arrive on a weekend.

Below you’ll find the following –

  • Travelling to Spain by Rail
  • Travelling within Spain by Rail
  • Travelling to Spain by Coach
  • Travelling to Spain by Boat
  • Getting to Tortosa from Major Airports
  • Getting the Bus from Tortosa to Valderrobres
  • Travelling Back at the End of the Retreat
  • Places to Stay en Route
  • Visa information

Travelling to Spain by Rail
Wherever you are coming from on this planet, start your train travel enquires at TVG Europe. Other very clear and straightforward sites to help you with your inter Europe train travel is loco2 or seat61 These days it’s possible to travel in one day from London or Amsterdam to Barcelona.. It’s worth investigating and it does help the environment when you choose to travel by train.. (in stead of plane!)

Tickets can now be booked up to four months in advance with Renfe, six months with Eurostar.

Travelling by train within Spain

Please note that the local trains Barcelona – Tarragona – Tortosa cannot be booked in advance. What follows is for longer distance travel within Spain, if for example, you decided to visit the country a bit.

Renfe is the web site for Spanish railways. It translates into English and some other languages. To book Spanish trains by credit card on the internet click on the ‘TIKINET’ logo to get into this system. (Where it says ID number – just put in your passport number.) You print out the booking confirmation with your ‘localiser’/booking reference on it and present that at the station in Spain. The fast euromed type trains are reservation only and quite expensive. These are the ones that go to Alicante, Madrid etc. There are also slow trains that don’t need booking but they stop at many stations.
Note: Tortosa is not among the list of mainline stations offered initially but IS among the list of ‘all other destinations’ which can be accessed by clicking somewhere on the page. You will then get all times and prices from wherever to Tortosa.

Travelling to Spain by Coach
Fares and days of travel vary, so check them out on eurolines, the main company for coach travel wherever you are in Europe, or, if in the UK, by phone: 08705 143219 (it can be easier to book by telephone). Open return tickets are available, it will only take a phone call or quick session on the internet by a friend to confirm your return date and send you a printed ticket (an sms ticket on your mobile phone may also be possible).

Travelling to Spain by Boat
Nagarakshita has written notes of her journey by sea so let us know if you’d like details.

Getting to Tortosa from major airports

Akashavana is in a mountainous region inland between Barcelona and Valencia. The most convenient airports we have found are Barcelona International, Reus and Valencia (the airport called Barcelona Girona is to the north of Barcelona and is not at all close) Valencia is less hectic than Barcelona – helpful especially after a retreat – and there is a Triratna Buddhist Centre and a sangha there too.

Barcelona international airport – Trains to Barcelona Sants Station run every half hour from the airport. Journey time is about 25 minutes. From Sants you will need to get the train to Tortosa which will probably leave from a different platform (Via) – there are information kiosks in Sants station, often with someone who speaks English. Trains from Barcelona Sants leave for Tortosa about every hour and a half, (N.B. the final destination is not always Tortosa). Trains to Tarragona are more frequent.

Beware – Barcelona is a hot spot for pick-pockets and several retreatants have had things stolen (at Sants station in particular) . Please take extreme care and keep money, documents etc separate with a list of important numbers and phones etc. A main ploy is to distract travellers by offering to help with bags.

There is also a coach service between Barcelona airport (Terminal 1) and Tarragona bus station. To check bus times go to empresaplana (the bus fare is higher than the train).

!! Recently Hife started to run a regular bus service between Barcelona airport (Terminal 1) directly to Tortosa busstation (it involves some swapping from bus to bus just outside of Barcelona, ask the bus driver when you get on the bus) It is quite straightforward and a comfortable way to get to Tortosa.  Check the hife website for times. Note: If you arrive at (terminal) Prat 2 you have to take the terminal shuttle to Prat 1 which takes about 10 minutes.

Reus airport is near Tarragona and Salou which are both on the train line from Barcelona to Tortosa. Ryanair fly to Reus airport and their webpage has info on bus transfers. Some retreatants have not found these buses to be reliable. A shared taxi might be a good idea.

Valencia airport – there is a metro from the airport to the city centre which takes about 25 minutes.

Some trains from Valencia are direct trains to Tortosa, but for most you will need to get off at ‘L’Aldea – Amposta – Tortosa station and then a train to ‘Tortosa’. There is also a regular bus service to Tortosa from here. Check the Hife website for times.

Boarding Passes:- In case you can’t print your boarding pass for your return flight before you travel to Akashavana, the support community can do that for you. Please provide them with all the information needed, ideally at the beginning of the retreat.

Getting the Bus from Tortosa to Valderrobres

As you come out of the main entrance of Tortosa train station turn left and immediately take the next left on to the new pedestrian crossing. In between metal fences  At the end of the pedestrian crossing turn left. Take the second right  - Carrer de Santa Maria Rose Molas.  You’ll see the bus station ahead of you on the left hand side (a building with curved roofing). There is a cafe inside the building as well as the ticket office. It will take about 10 minutes to walk that distance.

Travelling Back at the End of the Retreat
It is essential that you read this section before booking any return travel


Only if you travel back by Elipsos TrenHotel can you leave on the evening that the retreat ends.

On the day that your retreat ends you will be taken to Valderrobres in time to get the bus leaving at 14:25 that arrives in Tortosa at about 15.45. The next train leaves from Tortosa to Tarragona and Barcelona at 17.25 [there is a train that departs at 15:54 which you may be lucky enough to catch, but unlikely.]

Train departs Tortosa at 17.25 – arrives Tarragona at 18:30 and at Barcelona Sants at 19.40.

Flying from Valencia
Trains go from Tortosa to L’Aldea-Amposta, where you usually change for a train to Valencia – a few trains go directly through to Valencia. Connecting trains and buses go from Tortosa to this station – check renfe web site for information on train times.
Train departs L’Aldea-Amposta at 18.14 – arrives Valencia Estacion Del Norte at 20.25.
Trains to Valencia airport go from Estacion Del Norte every 20 mins and take 20 mins. If you are flying out from Valencia, you may need to stay in Valencia overnight.

Places to Stay en Route
Spain is famous for Fiestas and other big events so it is possible that a town may be totally booked up. Advance booking is strongly recommended. Valderrobres

There are a number of places to stay in Valderrobres, there is the Fonda Angeleta. Double rooms are between 40-45€.
A less exciting alternative is the Hotel El Salt close to the old town rooms are around 50-60€
Both are 5 mins walk from the bus stop. The only morning bus leaves Valderrobres at 6.55am – please double check time and gets to Tortosa about 8.00am (not on Sundays). The next train to Barcelona leaves at 9.18 arriving Barcelona Sants at 11.53.

A couple of lower cost places that retreatants have stayed at are:
Hostal Levante tel. 93 317 95 65
Pensio Alamar tel. 93 302 50 12

Barcelona is much more expensive than other places.
(Akashavana Trustees ask that any team members claiming travel expenses bear this in mind and try to stay in other places or else be willing to pay the difference themselves. Valderrobres, Tarragona and Reus are much more reasonable priced than Barcelona or Valencia.)

An easy and cheap place to stay is Hostal Noria in the Plaza de la Font tel no 0034 977 238 717. However it can be noisy as it is centrally located. NB this is a different place than HOTEL Noria – which is more expensive, near the beach and more quiet. You should book in advance which is easy to do through a site like booking.com. You can get a taxi from the train station, or walk taking an outdoor escalator up the hill.

Indigio Hostel has been recommended as very clean. It is about 18 euros in a taxi from the airport and a walk from the train station. It provides breakfast, they speak English on the phone, but have no single rooms.

If you’re travelling by coach – you could make a short holiday of it, especially if you alighted from the coach before Barcelona at Girona, which is a lovely place (cheap pleasant hostel – Pension Viladomat 0034 972 203 80

Accommodation booking and confirmation: Please note that the support community usually won’t do new bookings for you. In case you have to confirm your reservation, the support community can do that for you. Please provide them with all the information needed, ideally at the beginning of the retreat.

Visa information
The links below give basic information about who needs a visa for entering Spain and the length of time that your visa will enable you to remain in Spain. Please check on any visa requirements in good time before the retreat.



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practical information

At Akashavana the facilities are simple, in keeping with the practice of ‘going forth’. You will be staying in a remote place, with spring water for drinking and rainwater for washing and solar generated electricity to rely on which means you will be able to live a more simple and undemanding way of life. You will be living close to the elements in rugged and beautiful mountains, a wonderful context in which to be on retreat.
If you think you may have difficulties with the facilities or the environment, please get in touch. We have experience of those who have, and can send you some helpful tips to make your stay a positive one.

Please read this informations well in advance of the retreat as there will be things to organise and to get ahead of time . . .

What to bring
In general we ask you to think carefully and bring all that you anticipate needing for the entire retreat. We will provide some bulky items like a shampoo and body-wash which is eco-friendly and other toiletries, such as soap, insect repellant and sunscreen lotion so you do not need to bring these bulky items. This can be another practice of simplicity, going forth from your favourite toiletries! There will be a small ‘tienda’ (shop) where you can buy basic stationery, deodorants, toothpaste, tampons etc. by dana contributions. We prefer that you do not make requests for shopping while on retreat, except in cases of need eg. unforeseen medication.

What NOT to bring
We like to ask you to prepare yourself for the time you are on retreat at Akashavana to be offline. Make sure that someone who might want to be in touch with you (in case of emergencies at home) has the community contact details: mobile phone: 0034 645353953, satellite phone 0034 978090263, community[@]akashavana.org
The community will check phone and email for messages every day, so why not consider leaving your phone, tablets etc at home. If you do bring them with you for the journey, we can always keep them for you whilst you are on retreat. If you do keep them yourself please make sure you switch them off.

Guardia Civil
The Guardia Civil asks us to register our guests like in every hotel. For this reason but also because we need to keep those details for the duration of your stay, we ask you to fill in the form (two pages!) which you can download here Guardia Civil  It’s a word document which you have to save on your desk top and when filled in save it again. Then attach it to an email and send to us: community[@]akashavana.org.  Please do complete the ‘any other information’ section with any specific dietary needs so that meals can be prepared that are appropriate for you.

In April be prepared for the weather to be chilly when it can go down to about 5C (it can snow!), then warming up to hot in July/August when it can get up to 35C-40C. Then it very gradually cools down again over the months to November. Washing will all be by hand and we need to be economical with water, so it is best to bring clothes that are easy to wash and dry. In autumn it is a good idea to bring layers including some warm clothes for evenings and night time.

For walking we recommend comfortable clothing and a waterproof coat. Walking boots are recommended for walking further than around the immediate environs of the house, where sandals or light shoes are OK. Bring indoor shoes or slippers, the floors are tiled so cool underfoot.

Meditation kit
The shrine room has mats, blankets, and cushions (both foam and buckwheat). There are also chairs and stools.

We provide duvets, blankets, pillows, bed linen and hot water bottles.

There are two types of  mattresses, some firm ones and the rest less firm. If you have back problems you may need to try both.

We will provide one big towel for each retreatant. Bring a couple of facecloths, these enable you to wash with less water.

Windows are fitted with insect screens, but inevitably some insects do get inside. We can provide insect repellent.

We need to be economical with electricity, so please only bring electrical equipment that can be powered by battery. Don’t bring your hairdryer, electric toothbrush, laptops/ tablets etc. as they are very heavy on power.

Head torches are essential. We provide battery chargers if you want to bring rechargeable batteries. The path to the shrine room is dark early mornings and late at night and a head torch is much safer than a carried one. Also if you like to read in bed then you’ll need your head torch then too as the solar power cannot support bedside lamps.

Please bring your own stationery. However, there will be notepads, pens and envelopes available in our little shop/tienda.

You may wish to bring your own art supplies.

You can borrow walking poles, we’ve accumulated about 10.

Generally the yoga mats are only for use in the shrine room. However we have some mats for outdoor use.

Please bring your own medicines, sufficient for the length of the retreat, whatever you  would normally need. If you are at all prone to hay fever please do bring antihistamines. We can shop for any unanticipated medications.

Post / courier
If you would like to send a tent or other things in advance by post/courier this is possible.
Please address to:
Akashavana, Mas de Lluc, Penaroya de Tastavins, 44586, Teruel, SPAIN.

If sending anything by courier the following address and details MUST APPEAR ON THE PARCEL:
Entregar entre las 9h y las 15h a: Caja Rural (para Mas de Lluc), Calle Zaragoza 6, 44586 Penarroya de Tastavins, Teruel, SPAIN.

NB…Please email the community before you send it so they know to expect it and to collect it for you from the village.

Accommodation and facilities
The accommodation is in shared rooms, there are no single rooms. If you wish to camp, a bedspace will also be kept for you in the house.

Camping -be aware that the weather (wind, sun, rain) at Akashavana is hard on tents that are up for several weeks. If you can’t bring or send a tent, some tents may be available but they may not be in perfect condition or completely waterproof in heavy rain. Camping mattresses are available for all campers. Let the community know if you want to borrow a tent.

Power is provided by solar panels with a back up generator and water comes from a spring plus a rainwater tank. We need to be economical in our use of both and we have found it is perfectly possible to wash in a few jugs of water.

There are some indoor toilets and showers, as well as outdoor composting toilets and washing facilities. In general, when the weather permits, it is great to use the outside facilities, using rainwater instead of spring water.

The communal rooms and shrine room will be heated by woodburning stoves if the weather turns cold and we will all need to collect the wood for these stoves. The bedrooms have heating.

The meals will be simple using fresh local produce giving a healthy and balanced diet. There is a rich abundance of fruit and vegetables here and the food served will be vegan, with cow’s milk available. Cheese and eggs can be provided if really necessary. Most bulk dry goods are organic where the budget allows. There are some foods that we usually consider retreat staples which are expensive and difficult to obtain or unavailable in rural Spain eg. oatcakes, rooibos tea, tahini, and marmite. If you can not live without any of these we ask you to bring your own. We can supply yeast flakes for B12.

If you require any special diet for medical reasons please contact the community at least one month in advance to check what is available and which special supplies you may need to bring yourself.

If there are particular texts to bring with you then the retreat leader will let you know.

Akashavana has a good library of Dharma books –the list will be emailed to you– and we appreciate all donations that help increase our collection of Dharma texts.

There is no smoking allowed anywhere on Akashavana land for reasons of fire hazard.

Health and Insurance
Akashavana is very beautiful. It is also very rugged and remote. The terrain is rocky and steep and the track up is also rugged. It is important that you understand and accept the implications of this should you need medical care either for a slip or strain or for an ongoing or acute condition. The local health care has been found to be good. The nearest doctor is at Penarroya 8km/25 mins away; Valderobbres at 45 mins has a health centre open 24 hours, and the nearest hospital is in Alcaniz which takes 1 hour 20 minutes by car.

The European Health Card [EHIC] is available from Post Offices in the UK: allow at least a month for your application to be processed. This card is sufficient for EU residents and can also be applied for on line at http://www.dh.gov.uk

For nationals outside the EU you may want to investigate health insurance, or be prepared to pay for treatment. If you are from outside Europe, visa requirements will need checking. If you intend to travel within Europe make sure you have a visa that covers the whole time you will be away.

As for travel insurance, we STRONGLY recommend that you have some. We also suggest that you look specifically at whether the insurance covers walks below 2000 metres if you plan to be exploring the scenery here (some policies ask for this info specifically).

Before you go:
( ) Pay retreat fee
( ) Inform family and friends you are out of contact and give them the
emergency number 0034 978 090 263 and email address of the community: community [at] akashavana [dot] org
( ) Inform all relevant authorities and leave financial affairs in order
( ) Email your data for the Guardia Civil to the support community

( ) Passport
( ) A visa if you are from outside the EU.
( ) Train, coach or air ticket, including return
( ) European Health Insurance Card, and/or medical insurance

( ) Euros for journey, overnight stays, if any
( ) Euros for expenses during retreat (there is a small shop for essentials)

( ) Underwear including thermals and socks
( ) T shirts
( ) Warm jumper/fleece
( ) Warm trousers/skirt
( ) Light shorts/skirt/trousers
( ) Long sleeved shirt for sun protection
( ) Indoor shoes/slippers
( ) Sandals (strong ones)
( ) Strong walking boots
( ) Waterproof coat and overtrousers
( ) Sun hat and sunglasses ESSENTIAL
( ) Nightwear -both warm and cool

( ) Meditation stool –check first if you can borrow one!
( ) Yoga equipment –check first if you can borrow one!
( ) Toiletries, except bulky items -we will provide shampoo, shower gel, soap and sunscreen lotion
( ) Towels and facecloths –remember: one big towel will be provided
( ) Torch is essential -LED headlamp recommended
( ) Stationery, art supplies –check first what art supply is available!
( ) Medicines
( ) Walking poles –check first if you can borrow them!
( ) Small rucksack is useful
( ) Tent if you plan to camp

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Protected: ordination retreats 2016

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Akashavana is the women’s ordination retreat centre of the Triratna Buddhist Order. Our retreats are only for women ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order or for women who have been invited to attend an ordination retreat here. Because of that some of the pages on this site are private.

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If you scroll down this page, you’ll find various sets of photos.

Early days in the community… our first building & renovation project! If you click on a photo, a pop-up version will appear – move your cursor over that larger photo and you’ll be able to scroll through a slideshow ….

[slickr-flickr search="sets" set="72157626490517666" items="20" type="gallery"]

Photos of Mas de Luc as it was when we bought it! Sudaya and Kulaprabha, two of our trustees, visited Mas de Luc in 2005 shortly after Vajradevi and our project team had closed the deal to buy it. Kulaprabha’s first thought was “Oh no, what have we done! How will this ever become a retreat centre…. .” She admitted later that Vajradevi had been spot on with her vision for how the place could be reconstructed.

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Slide-show of the building project which began in early 2006. As well as reconstructing the old farm buildings to create the retreat centre, we built a separate shrine-room a few minutes walk from the main.

[slickr-flickr search="sets" set="72157626483051236" items="25"]

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Women and Buddhist ordination

public ordination ceremony, performed by Sanghadevi

After his Enlightenment the Buddha taught both men and women and had both male and female followers. He established an order of women, ordaining his aunt Mahapajapati along with 500 women who joined her.

As Buddhism spread throughout Asia, so did the community of women Buddhists. There were orders of bhikkhunis (nuns) in Sri Lanka, China, Burma, Korea and Vietnam. The bhikkhuni order has died out in many of these countries and attempts are currently being made to re-establish it. The bhikkhuni order still thrives in the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese traditions of Buddhism.

The Western Buddhist Order (WBO) was founded by Sangharakshita in Britain in 1968. In 2009, we changed our name to the Triratna Buddhist Order. Our Order is open equally to men and women. It is founded on the assumption that both are capable of following the teachings of the Buddha and attaining Enlightenment. Twelve men and women were initially ordained within the WBO which has now grown to a worldwide movement with over 1500 Order members. Around 500 women have asked for ordination within the Order.

The Triratna Order is not a monastic order. Those practising within it have various lifestyles, from celibate meditators to people living with their families in busy cities; from meditation teachers to those embarked on a full-time career. What unites them is that they have made a formal commitment to following the Buddhist path to Enlightenment.

Ordination within the Triratna Order usually takes place after several years of preparation that includes meditation, study and retreats.

At ordination a Buddhist name is bestowed by the preceptor (the person who performs the ordination); this often embodies qualities to aspire towards, such as generosity, compassion, energy or wisdom. The new Order member also takes on a meditation practice in which they visualise a Buddha or another Enlightened figure. At the time of their ordination all Order members undertake to practise a traditional set of ethical precepts. Men and women Order members take the same ten precepts which they practise in their everyday lives.

In 1989 Sangharakshita appointed three senior women Order Members to take on the responsibility for ordaining other women within the Order. This led to the creation of Tiratanaloka, a retreat centre dedicated to preparing women for ordination. For some years up till 2004 longer ordination retreats were held at Il Convento in Italy.

Ordination: a personal perspective
by Jnanasiddhi – She who has the attainment of knowledge or wisdom



In September 2000 I went to Il Convento in Tuscany to be ordained. I spent six and a half weeks there, now a memory, but one that still affects me. The experience changed me and I will never be the same again. This is not purely because I have a new name, a new spiritual relationship with my preceptor, a new meditation practice. I have had a new experience of myself and of life which I hope I will always be able to contact deep within.

This new experience is hard to describe – words stiffen under my hand and fix the experience, when some of its main characteristics are flexibility, lightness and a jewel-like multifacetedness. In many ways it is like any good retreat experience but lengthier- the sense of harmony, calm, heightened awareness, and joy. But in other ways it is qualitatively different. It is long enough to become your life – at least for that time. It is deep enough to let go of your old self and spacious enough not to rush into a new one.

People say that memories of childhood are as though it were always summer. Memories of my time in Tuscany are that it was always wide-open blue, without and within. Space enough for my heart and mind to forget their habitual limits and grow. Like a seedling getting a good start with nourishing conditions, I was fortunate enough to have Il Convento to begin the growth that I hope will occur in the rest of my life in the Order.

The beauty and profound restfulness that comes with prolonged shared silence; the honesty and open-heartedness of people when they did speak; the beauty of shrines and stupas, songs and chants set in the collective devotion of twenty seven women stay with me and form a reservoir of memories to dip into.

My private ordination was the most important day of my life so far and needed and deserved the mythic setting and open space that Il Convento provided. Rich ornamentation or luxurious splendour would have been out of place for the simple yet beautiful ceremony where I became a daughter of the Buddha; but bare stone walls and crumbling cloister, in a country not my own, seemed fitting and right.

From the Lion Terrace of Il Convento you can see the village of Batignano, hear the hunting dogs of the neighbouring estate and feel the world held at bay. Would I, if I could, have magically transported Il Convento to a more remote spot and extended the weeks I spent there? I would. But now, looking back, I am just enormously grateful for the opportunity I had and for the magic of Il Convento and ordination.

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Sangharakshita, a brief biography

Urgyen Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita, founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) and the Western Buddhist Order (known as Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha in India) was born Dennis Lingwood in London in 1925.

Illness as a child meant he was largely self-educated and was able to follow his own interests in reading and study. From his sick-bed he studied the Western arts and religions and developed a particular interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East. He says his first completed piece of writing, apart from school essays, was a short life history of the Buddha. At the age of sixteen after reading a profound Buddhist text ‘The Diamond Sutra’ he realised he was a Buddhist himself and always had been.

During the Second World War Sangharakshita was conscripted and sent to India with the Signals Unit. Three days after the end of the war before demobilising he simply left his army barracks and with a Bengali friend walked out into India to become a homeless wandering aesthetic. Their aim was to seek ordination into the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Dennis Lingwood became Sangharakshita in Kusinara – the site of the Buddhas Parinirvana – on Wesak morning of 1949.

At the request of one of his teachers he settled in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong where he studied under a number of teachers from different Buddhist traditions, particularly the Tibetan tradition; Lamas and Rimpoches were coming south to escape persecution from the Chinese after the invasion of Tibet. During this time he taught and wrote extensively, including the well received ‘Survey of Buddhism’.

Towards the end of his time in India he taught particularly within the Dalit caste members who had recently converted to Buddhism following the lead of Dr B R Ambedkar.

After twenty years in India he returned to England and within a short time had established the FWBO. The first ordinations of the WBO were held in 1968 in London. For over thirty years Sangharakshita taught the Dharma within the context of a rapidly growing worldwide Buddhist movement. He has led retreats, given study seminars and public talks besides being available to meet with disciples and friends. He has also taught through his writings and is now the author of over 40 books that range from Dharma writing to poetry and include several volumes of memoirs.

At present Sangharakshita is based in Birmingham, England where he is continuing his literary work.

Sangharakshita also has his own website:


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What is Akashavana?

Women and the Triratna Buddhist Order

Akashavana meaning ‘forest retreat of luminous space’ is the retreat centre bought with money raised by many generous people who gave to the Aranya project.

Aranya was the name of the project set up seven years ago to fundraise for and develop a retreat centre in Europe dedicated to the ordination of women into the Western Buddhist Order.

We aim to illuminate a path of Buddhist practice within a modern western Buddhist tradition and give a full picture of women practitioners within our Order. You can find information on what Buddhist Ordination for Women means and how you can help bring our retreat centre to completion. There are also articles by and about Buddhist women practicing in their everyday lives. Akashavana is part of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, a worldwide network of practicing Buddhists.

Why an Ordination Retreat Centre?

For the past 20 years senior women disciples of Sangharakshita and members of the Western Buddhist Order have been ordaining other women into the Order. Initially the ordinations happened within the context of quite short retreats of just a couple of weeks.

Over the past few years the retreats have been extended to 6 or 7 weeks and held in a beautiful cloistered building in Tuscany – ‘Il Convento’ – and once in our own retreat centre in India. Most recently (July and August 2006) a 6-week ordination retreat was held in a rented school in Scotland.

For many years there has been a vision to have much longer ordination retreats of at least 3 months. With this time available it would be possible to really explore aspects of the commitment to the Three Jewels we undertake at ordination. We wanted particularly to support an experience of ‘going forth’ from ‘worldly life’ for a time and allow a deeper connection with the mythic dimension of our life and practice.

Ideally rather than renting we wanted our own land and property to develop an ongoing ritual space and place of practice.

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