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Sacarest  mistic vally 

 

The vision of Sacarest

In 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.

 

The community

An 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.

 

The environment

Awareness, 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, an invitation

"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?

Apparently, 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:

“Maestro, why are you hitting that rock?”

Michelangelo 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):

Dana: open-handed generosity, releasing
       liberality. Time, attention, care. Things, gifts,
       knowledge and inspiration. Dana is also “Not taking the not given.”

Being hospitable – 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.

Unconditional 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 – perhaps both!

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.

Dana also 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.

In the 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.”

Giving 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

impulse’? 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?

There 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)

This seems 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.

It is 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.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
        powerful 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:

If 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!

Imagine, we 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.

I 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.

Whenever 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!)

Before ´97, 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

 

Why 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 perhaps disappear.

Do 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 here.

Can 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.

Why 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.

Are the contributions anonymously?

It is possible to do so, in order to prevent the origination of distance.

Will 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.