Spreading Kindness

COVID-19 News

Dear friends,

We have been trying to orientate ourselves to what has happened over the last 2 weeks and what is currently happening. What was unimaginable 10 days ago has become a reality.

Living in this reality is going to take a significant amount of
mental and physical adjustment. I spoke yesterday to a friend who was exasperated by what is happening. He told me he just did not know what he was going to do as he has no income and has a family to take care of. Then he told me – he had a small victory today. He mowed his garden. I too was gardening and told my son, Kaushik, this story.

Kaushik told me we should not underestimate the value of small victories. He is a history scholar studying the history of philosophy and explained a debate between Voltaire and Rousseau. Both 18th century philosophers of the Enlightenment Period. Voltaire, in his “Candide”, a book in which the characters compete as to whose suffering is the greatest, concluded  “just cultivate your garden”. Kaushik explained during the Age of Enlightenment, there was a huge sense of optimism about the future of the world but the 1755 Lisbon earthquake killed an estimated 100,000 people. Philosophers started to question this optimism as devastation caused by natural disasters could not be controlled. Voltaire’s answer was, cultivate your garden. Kaushik explained; Voltaire tried to say, do what is within your control rather than making sense of what is happening around you.

The fact that my friend could garden, is what is important. My friend had a small victory, he, in the words of Voltaire, cultivated his garden.

I hope we can all adjust to this evolving reality by doing what we can do. The Director General of the World Health Organisation said that Covid-19 has taken a lot away from us but it has also given us something special, an opportunity to come together as one humanity. My way of adjusting to this new reality will be to include small acts of kindness that are within my control to assist those who need help.

Poulstone Retreat Centre will not be hosting retreats until at least the end of May. We will then have to review the situation. Any retreats booked during this period will be permitted to postpone their retreat to a later available date in our 2020 calendar and deposits will be carried through to the postponed date.

We wish you all well during this time of transition and see you on the other side.

Look after each other.

Raj and Divya

23 March 2020

CommUNITY at Poulstone

  1. CommUNITY at Poulstone 15 Jan 2020

Happy New Year and wishing you all prosperity in all its forms.

It’s been a while since Poulstone retreat centre last posted a blog (Jan 2018 inner and outer prosperity !!!) and a lot has happened since then … but this said, not a lot has also happened here.

Some members of the team have moved on but we welcome new members to the team. So, welcoming our very own
“resident sadhu” Raphael, Jack , who lives at Poulstone, Mihaela, who helps in the house and Kaush & Nish – who have always been helping as all rounders but their involvement has grown significantly as they have grown (also significantly). And other members of the team still remain with us.

Divya and I introduced three new notable initiatives to Poulstone over the last year “Retreat to Retreat Mala”, “The future is fluid” and “the fire of illumination and healing puja”. These initiatives have been inspired by the idea of unity.

Unity is very close to our hearts and it is a theme we have promoted over recent years. In 2018 we held a multi faith musical concert at Poulstone, which celebrated different spiritual musical traditions. This event  concluded our third annual non stop 7day meditation “akhanda” practice. The akhanda practice was dedicated to “Meditate for Unity”. In 2020, we intend to again promote Meditate for Unity – so please watch this space (In 2019 Meditate for Unity was put on hold as we promoted  “Year Long Meditation” (YLM) in its place. YLM is worth looking into, it’s a phenomenal practice (https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/year-long-meditation/#/ ) and Poulstone is hosting a retreat in March 2020 about YLM and the  positive impact of group practices such as this – contact us if you wish to know more).

The retreat to retreat mala initiative links one retreat to the next retreat with a message of love, unity and peace. We wanted to create a connection between retreats visiting Poulstone. It just appeared odd to us there was nothing connecting some of the amazing retreats we host at Poulstone. So, we introduced a connecting thread linking all retreats by asking an outgoing retreat to leave a simple message of love, unity and peace for the next incoming retreat. We have created a mala of retreats connected by a thread made up of these messages. We hope to get to 108 messages.

This has proved hugely successful and we have some wonderful messages from many retreats connecting the many diverse traditions that visit Poulstone. We now have one years’ worth of messages of love, unity and peace which we hope to make available soon.

The future is fluid initiative was inspired by a trip to the Rubin museum of art in New York. It really is one of my favourite places where I enjoy getting lost in the predominantly Buddhist religious arts of the Himalayan regions displayed over five floors. The future is fluid “immersive art” is on two walls at the Rubin. One wall is headed “I am anxious because …” and the other wall is headed “I am hopeful because ….”. You stick a one line message on one wall about what is making you anxious and on the other wall, a one line message why you are hopeful.

Well …. Poulstone now has a “future is fluid” wall. It is adjacent to the meditation room. If you wish to participate, please leave a one line message of what makes you anxious and a corresponding one line message about what makes you hopeful. Step back and read the messages, you may be surprised by the experience.

The third initiative started in October 2019 and is a monthly havan practice (Vedic fire ceremony/puja ) followed by meditation and lunch. Jan and Desiree, who have been holding annual shamanic retreats at Poulstone for about 30 years (and are our oldest attending retreat), helped launch this initiative by participating in the fire ceremony. We call this initiative, “the fire of Illumination and healing”. This is held monthly, on a Saturday (subject to an available Saturday) at Poulstone and starts at 10:30am. The fire puja is followed by a relaxation and guided meditation session and a simple lunch at around 12:30pm
There is no charge for this and it is in honour of community. Please join us. The next havan and practices will be held on the 29th February 2020 starting 10:30am.

There will be other initiatives celebrating Unity throughout the year but if you wish to know more or join in with any of the initiatives at Poulstone or simply wish to volunteer, please go to the contact us page on our website (www.poulstone.com) and email us.

A lot has happened at Poulstone over the last year or so and a lot planned for the future but at the same time Poulstone remains the same. The Wellingtonia tree still stands tall and proud watching over the ashram. The moles still dig up the lawn, birds continue to sing and the wall surrounding the gardens, continues to hold the energy that you have fed over the years.

I am reminded that today it is “Makara Sankranti”, when the Sun moves into Capricorn. But the Sun at Poulstone still rises in the east and sets in the west.

A lot of activity at Poulstone but somethings “still” remain unchanged.

In Unity

Rajesh Rai

15th January 2020