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The Wilderness Within: The subtle activism of engaged buddhists

As we travel deeper into the 21st century we experience more and more acutely, if we are awake and aware, the unravelling of the interconnected cycles and systems which make up this miracle of life on this Earth, which is our only home. More and more, we humans don’t seem to really care for anything other than ourselves. The chasm that is separating human beings from the natural world and from one another is widening faster and faster, with society encouraging ever more alienation. Even the very words for wild and natural things – flowers and creatures and landscapes – are being erased from the great dictionaries, to be replaced by technology-speak. And yet the words we choose become the world we live in – so we are diligently engaged in making an un-natural and hyper-me world.

It is our connection, our relationship, with something that moves us to take care of it. So the key to our future lies in re-connecting ourselves to the Earth, to one another, to our true nature. We can not survive independent of the Earth and her natural cycles and systems. No matter which strand we try to isolate, we will always find it hitched to a myriad others. Indeed, we are made of the elements. We are made of the same stuff as the stars. We and they have come from the same singularity. Yet a long time ago, before physicists had ever even theorized about the Big Bang, Dogen already knew. I came to realize that the mind is nothing but the sun and the moon and countless stars.

Finding the Wilderness Within

Can we also come to this knowing, like Dogen? How can we come to know that the sun and moon and stars are within, that the wilderness is within, that we are the whole of it? The Buddha showed us how when he awoke to the Truth while sitting under the Bodhi tree. He had found through his practice of meditation that we are the sun and the moon and the stars, that the wilderness is within, and is home. He had seen the great interdepedence of all things.

Retreat Programme

Taking advantage of the wilderness around TRC, we’ll explore the meeting place of the outer and inner worlds to uncover our connection with ourselves, all beings, the sun and moon and the stars. The retreat will combine meditation practice with silent contemplative walking in the wilderness, as well as some of the spiral practices from Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects”.


Tsunma Tsondru

Tsunma Tsondru

Tsunma Tsondru is a nun in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, ordained by Tai Situ Rinpoche. She first met Buddhism in the 90’s through Louis van Loon at the BRC. After working as a lawyer and environmental scientist she left for Spain for a traditional Kagyu three and a half years closed retreat, followed by a second closed retreat of four years. Since returning to Cape Town, she has served on the Board of the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, a multi-faith NGO, and as its Executive Director.

In 2015, Tsondru spent a 10-day intensive with Joanna Macy in California, engaging with the Work that Reconnects, and since then has begun to teach the Work that Reconnects in Cape Town and Ixopo. She dedicates her time to being of service to SAFCEI, helping people reconnect with inner wilderness through leading contemplative Wilderness Within trails in the iMfolozi-Hluhlue wilderness area, and teaching Work That Reconnects, weaving it into the practice and teaching of Buddhism and meditation. The journey now is to bring spiritual practice into the world. Of particular interest is eco-philosophy and activism and the role that spirituality and ethics must play if we are to transform our economic and social systems in protection of the Earth.

Retreat Costs

Costs include accommodation, all meals and snacks, facilitator transport cost (R400) and optional environmental levy (R60).

  • Twin/double room with en suite bathroom (per person): R1680
  • Twin/double room with shared bathroom (per person): R1560
  • Single room with shared bathroom (only 3 available): R1960
  • Single use of twin/double room: R2000
  • Dormitory R1340
  • Camping (own tent) R1140

Dana (offering) will be accepted by the retreat facilitator in appreciation of her teachings.

To book, please use our online Booking Form.
For more general information about our retreats, please click on this link.