Today was the first day of the Buddhist summer course which we attend every year. Held at Sakya Changlochen Ling, a retreat centre situated amidst the rural beauty of the Dordogne, it’s a two week period that is one of the highlights of my annual calendar.
I arrived in France a few days ago with my children and sister thus giving us the opportunity to enjoy the tranquil spaciousness of the retreat center before the course began. We came from London City Airport to Bergerac with a hop, skip and a jump. Although I’m a nervous flyer, the bumpy brevity of being airborne was definitely preferable to the more sedate pace of the train journey from King’s Cross St Pancras to Bordeaux St Jean.
Life, in general, has a slower pace in this corner of the French world. I have been visiting for over twenty five years and any changes I've seen have been gradual. Even our retreat centre has grown with us. It seems simply to have emerged organically from the very ground itself; a natural and harmonious addition to the local landscape.
My father teaches at Sakya Changlochen Ling and the neighboring Dhagpo Kagyu Ling during the summer every year and students from UK, Europe and the Americas travel to attend. It’s a precious time for me: an opportunity to be fully immersed in the particular Buddhist teaching that is the focus of the course. I also reconnect with dear friends from across the globe whom I see here. I am so happy to be staying for the next two weeks.