The vision of Sacarest
Western civilisation, a new awareness of spirituality is emerging. Many of us
recognise an integrative and purposeful spirit as the force that moves us all,
and see all being living on this planet as one family for which we are all
responsible. This new awareness is evident in the revival of religious and
spiritual traditions. It is also representing itself through other disiplines,
such as science, art, psychology and education. But most important of all, we
can experience it in the process of our daily life. An holistic consciousness
begins with our inner self. To serve and nourish the living force within ourself.
To be an agent of transformation in the outer world needs a strong connection
with our own life history and inner journey. This connection to our own source
gives meaning and direction to our deeds and actions. Recognition of the forces
that are pulling us back towards the safe and familiar patterns of our past,
recognition of our attachments to identifications with our emotions, behaviour
of belief systems and the recognition of our own inner needs, can help to make
us free to act from our own inner source. From this liberation the real
transformation starts. Discovering who we are plus the still hidden, but ever
present possibilities within us, is the central theme of the workshops and
seminars in Sacarest. These workshops and seminars are offered for those who
are experiencing a growing capacity for change in themselves.
essential part of Sacarest is the living-work community which supports and
complements the workshop program. A small staff of dedicated people share a
year-round community life and co-ordinate the daily work. Central to Sacarest´s
vision is the small scale. The entire community -including guests- does not
exceed 40 in number. Thus everyone receives a quality experience and everyone´s
gifts contribute uniquely to the little society. Guests and workshop
participants are effectively short-term members of the community, sharing skills,
ideas and creative talent. Communal life is, however, balanced with space for
privacy and time alone.
inspiration and transformation are greatly facilitated by the magnificent
natural setting of Sacarest. The centre is housed in a block of centuries old
farmhouses, situated some 50 km north of Alicante and 130 km south of Valencia
in the beautiful fertile foothills above the Spanish Costa Blanca. Now restored and modernised as suites of rooms,
the original essence has been preserved. Sited on the top of a bluff,
surrounded by a sweeping vista of almond and orange groves, Sacarest looks out
to a panoramic view of the azure mediterranean. Westward, chains of eroded
mountains and pine clad hills form an imposing wilderness backdrop. Four km to
the coast lies Finestrat, a fishing village where much of the traditional Spanish
life is still retained. The nearest shops, bistros, car and moped hire, banks
and postoffices are in Finestrat.
Our evolving philosophy - Dana,
"My intention for our Centre,
Sacarest, has always been, and still is, to work
with people for a better world. I take this position because I have faith that
there is a better world. Yet, how can
we make this visible?
Michelangelo was just outside the city walls working on a sculpture, chipping
away at a huge rock when a small boy came along and sat down nearby to watch.
Eventually, out of curiosity, the boy piped up with a question which was
preoccupying him. He could have asked, typically, “What’s it gonna be? or
“How do you do it?” Instead he asked the ultimate, crystal clear question:
why are you hitting that rock?”
replied, “To set free an angel.”
This story moves
me because we all walk past stones, and sometimes see someone courageously
hammering one. However, we rarely show the interest or clarity of mind to ask
such an ultimate, open question: “Why do you want that?” Or, “Why do you
do that?” An ultimate question because such questions are free from fear. This
is rare and enables the unique secret to be freed.
I also have this
uninhibited curiosity in me; the curiosity of a child, or as the Buddhists call
it, “a beginner’s mind”. It’s like the quality of a shy bird: only
through patient attention does it become visible.
How can we
achieve this special quality? Buddhism distinguishes three steps:
1. Having an
intuition about what could be realised; 2. collecting knowledge about if and how
this could be so; and 3. the experience that is already there. My intuition
tells me that there is a better world.
During my many
years at Sacarest
I have gathered the experience and knowledge that this is
achievable. This faith supports me and enables me to release new realms in my
intuition. Because we are students, on a path of learning, consciously working
for a better world.
In this same
branch of Buddhism there is the central concept of dana (from the Pali):
open-handed generosity, releasing
Time, attention, care. Things, gifts,
and inspiration. Dana is also “Not taking the not given.”
– a lesson in itself: giving my guests ‘a free hand’. Giving them at least
a free hand about the appreciation of the given and of the received. Sometimes
my day develops just a different, nicer colour by someone who is hospitable to
me on the telephone. What would it be like to do this, consciously and intensely
lovingly to others. Here in Spain there is another tradition on the telephone.
In a rather uninterested manner, someone says “Diga me, tell me,” and I
don’t know who l’m speaking to. I miss the experience of being accepted, and
again feel the pain of my old doubt as to whether there is a space for me, a
place on this earth.
giving. I had this relationship with someone having almost the same birth date
as me. Once in a shop we both chose something for ourselves. Then just before
the cash register, we exchanged our respective purchases to receive them as
gifts for our birthdays. This is how we give money, attention and time, and
gifts at Christmas - like keeping the books, keeping the score, an exchange. (You
give to me; I give to you.) Maybe I just want to feel better, or less guilty –
Often, I was
deeply concerned with what someone would like to receive for his or her birthday.
Nowadays I feel more sensible and ask myself what it is that I can give, and do
this as an expression of what is within me, of how I really feel. Sometimes
giving has become an ‘investment’. In itself I experience this as OK because
then I practice my wish to be able to give more often and more spontaneously. In
our culture, giving spontaneously has become a rarity. There is much that has to
be paid for or to be compensated. This reinforces my feeling of separateness and
doesn’t support the feeling of connectedness for which I am longing.
embraces helping – a mode of ‘givingness’: coming towards visible needs
and wants. I can thus practise overcoming the separation between you and me.
Also, I have a
need for ‘being seen’, being loved, a need for experiencing meaning and
sense, and to be able to handle suffering. I also have a desire for giving: an
impulse, given by the heart, to overcome the smallness of our earthly realm.
Sometimes I am
stuck in my separateness. I take the position that the other has to “learn to
ask tor help” first. (It hurts me, seeing those words appear on my computer
screen.) Do I want to impose my suffering on the other, just in order to become
equal in some way? (In a poor man’s consciousness.) I am aware, in fact, that
I actually want to be supportive just where support is needed.
increasing momentum of dana there arises a giving which perhaps makes people
feel supported in their growth, awareness and spiritual development. Giving, or
perhaps not giving (sometimes the greatest gift is to let someone take care of
himself) can develop into a refined act. Herein lies a connecting oneness for
me, ‘Sehleverwantschaff’ as Goethe called it.
Or as I heard
once: “One cannot really help oneself without helping others. And one cannot
really help others if one cannot help oneself.”
spontaneously completes dana for me. This human need which transcends the basic
needs of food and shelter releases the potential towards a natural and creative
abundance of inner wealth and fulfilment. I hope to give spontaneously so that
the idea of giving and receiving can dissolve, and what remains is an expression
of a creative and positive state of being. Dana, then, starts with an impulse:
the need for giving. It comes to prosperity and is only complete if I can act
accordingly. Do I experience this
Sometimes. Often? Do I give without reservation if I feel the need to give? For
me, it is often Yes and No. What can I do to feel this impulse deeper and more
often without feeling the need to hold back?
is in fact only one need of one’s own that has
to be fulfilled before one can preoccupy oneself effectively with the needs of others, and that is not a physical or material
need, but simply a matter of emotional positivity and security. We need to
appreciate our own worth an feel it is appreciated by others, to love ourselves
and feel that we are loved by others.
(Urgyen Sangarakshita, Wisdom Beyond Words)
simple. Can I personally also experience this? How difficult. Would I not become
arrogant and proud? A well-known mental cotortion is: I cannot give: I do not
love myself, and they don’t love me. I have to wait until I appreciate myself
more and am more loved, before I can start giving what is in me.”
I am sure,
however, that we are all giving in many ways.
important to me to be able to give effectively. Sometimes sincere giving is
spoiled by feelings of emotional impoverishment. In a community like Sacarest
it is easy to complain about money - to complain about lack of love. In our
particular part of the world, Western Europe, money is often a means for dealing
with feelings of impoverishment, and for projecting wealth into. Or sometimes
there is complaining about someone’s living habits. When the objections and
the tumult die down, it often turns out that some lack of love or lack of
friendship is playing a part. For me, a genuine expression of friendship –
love – is the ability to stand outside myself – my ego – and to give in a
creative, fluid interchange.
deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are
beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask
ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually,
who are you not to be?
(Nelson Mandela, installation speech 1994)
A while ago
someone gave our staff group a hint: “If you want to become more intimate, you
should start giving to others what you think you most need yourself.” A
powerful formula in the Gospel of Thomas (some Christian scrolls found in 1945
in Egypt) is a fascinating passage which keeps coming back to me:
you bring forth what is within you, what is in
you will save you. That which you do not bring forth will destroy you.
How do I know
what is within me? And how do I know whether I am bringing it forth? Because the
text is clear!
are predestined to give. We are predestined to share our love with the world,
predestined to go beyond our loneliness. If I cannot express and share my love,
I become embittered; and in this bitterness I could perhaps destroy my love. OK,
I can only give if I know my love, and I feel that my love is experienced by my
surroundings. If I know my worth and feel my environment experiences my value,
then my love is the hub of my happiness and subsistence.
would like to share with you the significance of managing a ‘dana economy’
at El Bloque during 1997. For me, it is a way of feeling more connected. So I
wish to talk about dana and finances.
I ask for money in exchange for what I can give and can share, it seems to be
more like trading than like giving. The price comes in between you and me. I
think about my price and you think about whether you like my product for the
price I ask. I for me, you for
you. Together alone.
(One issue at
least is that you have to take my ‘invisible’ product on trust because you
don’t know its value until you’ve actually tried it!)
we required a specific sum of money that you had to pay us for being at El
Bloque, and we kept an eye on you doing this. We felt some mistrust on our side:
a fear that we wouldn’t receive what we needed, an anxiety that you perhaps
would not pay us. And we had little faith in our guests, asking them to pay
first, and only afterwards to receive the service we provide.
I see a path
towards faith and trust, by way of developing an income from gifts. Having
received an unexpected gift of 10,000 Dutch guilders this inspired me.
We want our dedication to be guided and inspired by the deeply human need to
give, to share. We also hope to come to a shared responsibility with our guests
about the future welfare of this special place – participation in how it may
evolve as an Evolutionary Centre. Our economic well-being then becomes more
directly shared between us.
This is an
exercise in trust for all of us: learning to trust that our giving will be
recognised and that every one will contribute according to their own level of
appreciation and ability.
Our colleagues in
NewBold (an institute connected to Findhorn, Scotland) and the centres of the
Friends of the Western Buddhist Order are good examples for us. They have drawn
valuable conclusions from their experience with dana-economics."
Dolf in 't Veld
dana in Sacarest?
Dana has, partially, to do with our image of man & society. How can we work with people on openness,
learning to express feelings, building up confidence, develop spiritual
awareness—working on a better world and still holding on to a negative
image of mankind?! we do not want any longer to make such steps, being aware in
a Dana-economy will also be possible financially!
Often guests told
us we were too cheap, and for others too expensive. In the dana-economy a
justice is arising. We have the confidence that our guests like to cooperate in
this idea and like to give an onset for working on a better world based on
confidence. Because only in a joint effort this concept about mistrust can
I have to participate in the Free Pricing Plan?
We hope to offer
you our form of dana-econmy, and not to impose it onto you. If you cannot choose
for this system, you can be informed about our needs for subsistance when being
you give me an indication for the cost of food&lodging?
We prefer not to
give you an answer too soon, and to deprive you of the chance to be aware of the
jointly responsibility for
Sacarest's future. Everyone knows what a meal in a
restaurant and a stay in a hotel cost. Its quality you will experience here on
the spot. When being here we can give you further insight in what is needed. If
the people who just can pay less, pay less, and the people who just can pay
more, pay more, we hope to end just the same, financially, as before. Might it
be more, we already have some plans. Might it be less, we have a problem.
still a booking deposit?
We like guarantee
from the people who book that they do indeed come. This amount is by not enough
to cover our costs. We also do not like people to come by unannounced.
the contributions anonymously?
It is possible to
do so, in order to prevent the origination of distance.
I be addressed on the unexpected amount of my contribution?
In general we trust you have thought about
your contribution, and thus in accordance with our mutual exchange. Though we
hope to gain more information & feedback about our work & functioning,
and sometimes we like to have the possibility to ask for explanation—without
discussing your contribution. Our acting, and the reactions it evokes, in our
daily life are the treasure of information that stimulates our process of growth.