Tara Rokpa Centre is a supreme setting for this special retreat. Set in the dramatic scenery of the North West province – wild and wonderful – busting with all the elements of nature and with the living solidity of the Eco/ Adobe buildings – this venue established by our beloved teacher, Akong Rinpoché, made for a true sense of Africa.

The weather held us in awe in the first week as extreme heat changed to eight days and nights of crashing downpour with special effects thunder and lightening. A true Bushveld Summer experience that forced some of us to buy large umbrellas!

Those that came from far afield such as the UK, Switzerland, and Ireland, have been before and will hopefully come again. Old hands from South Africa or Zim travel willingly to this spot. I had not been up to TRC for years and from the Little Karoo that alone was quite an experience!

Dónal’s ‘Encampment’ theme, he told us, originates from a Tibetan custom to camp together to discuss, think and share ideas in mutual understanding and hopefully with some awakening! This particular session was scheduled at the end of each day – at a  time when some of us were more asleep than awake – and possibly that was a good thing leading to the loosening of habitual strings and opening up of old knots!

As we sat day in and day out the hardcore of ‘mind stuff’ moved somewhat and bodies adjusted. Dónal taught with insight and humor plus the reading of great poetry with some additional musical renditions-  all to edge us skillfully towards an appreciation of the teachings as they applied to our own minds and our own lives!

How do we change Humanity? This was a constant question in our Dialogue Sessions. Discussions ensued on ecological sustainability and climate change and how we carry unconsciously embedded notions that colour our lives. How do we become kind? How do we see a need? Something to work on.

Besides this fairly intense work, there were walks to the waterfall, swimming in the dam, stretching exercises and ‘Elements’ with Pippa – not all compulsory!

Last but not least was the excellent standard of nutritious food. Every meal – breakfast, lunch, and supper was a testament to the generosity of spirit and foodie creativity!!

Thanks to all the staff who organized, planned and squirreled away to make this long month a never to be forgotten experience.

Wynsome Kierman, Dec 2019

Photos: Marina Vundum and Souad Hervé