Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo
For more than twenty years the Buddhist Retreat Centre, located at Ixopo in KwaZulu Natal, has been welcoming people to take some time out of their busy schedules to re-connect with themselves in an area of great natural beauty and tranquility. The retreat is located on a ridge overlooking the Umkomaas River, indigenous valleys and rolling hills. Paths winding through the 300 acre property take guests through the lush greenery to quiet places which are perfect for meditation and contemplation, while enjoying exquisite scenery. Birdlife is plentiful and the grounds of the retreat are a breeding site for the rare Blue Swallow. In fact, the Buddhist Retreat Centre has been appointed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust as custodian of these beautiful birds, as well as being declared a Natural Heritage Site by Nelson Mandela during his presidency in recognition of conservation efforts.
As Buddhism is neither atheistic nor theistic, it doesn’t compete with or challenge other religions, and therefore religious or philosophical beliefs of visitors are not an issue when staying at the centre and guests are not expected to convert to Buddhism. There are three main retreat programs that guests can enjoy, being Conducted Retreats, Self Retreats, and Day Visits. The various Conducted Retreats have a set schedule for each day and those attending one of these programs must plan to attend right from the first day to the last to achieve the most benefit. Self Retreats are unstructured, with participants free to walk, meditate, listen to tapes and draw on the experience of staff members with regard to Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Day Visits take the form of a Self Retreat, where guests are free to enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings at leisure.
Accommodation is available for up to thirty-eight participants, in en-suite cottages, single and twin-bedded rooms. The menu features lacto-ovo vegetarian cuisine, made from organically grown vegetables and accompanied by freshly baked bread. The tranquil environment of the Buddhist Retreat Centre provides the perfect opportunity to become acquainted with the Buddhist culture through the practice of philosophy, meditation and psychology. Guests are encouraged to adhere to traditional Buddhist moral principles, such as having respect for all forms of life, as well as abstaining from alcoholic beverages and hallucinogenic drugs. Certainly, the Buddhist Retreat Centre in KwaZulu Natal offers a complete break from the frantic pace of modern living.