Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Retreat in Northern Sweden

Mosquitoes welcome me to Northern Sweden

Hi friends,
Since the last post from Rio two months ago I had been in the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden. May 17th-20th was spent visiting some friends in the Czech countryside outside of Prague and giving a talk at the Lotus Buddhist Center in downtown Prague. Thereafter I  spent a few days at the secluded hermitage of Ven. Czech Dhammadipa near the Bohemian village of Mala Skala in the "Czech Paradise" (a popular name for the area) a one hour drive northeast of Prague. We took some walks in the lovely surrounding forests.
Returning to Germany I  participated in the Vesak Celebration at the Buddhistisches Haus in Frohnau, Berlin where I stayed for the next three weeks.
My 65th birthday on June 21st was spent with old friends at the Haus Der Stille (40 kms from Hanburg) that co-insided with the beginning of a ten day retreat. That was the 25th anniversary of my leading retreats at Haus Der Stille, the first Buddhist retreat center in Germany.
A short canoeing trip with  a Czech friend and his two sons

A few small rapids for excitement

                                                  The picturesque Czech landscape

The Czech Paradise near Mala Skala


 A quaint small church on its perch above Mala Skala

 A small cemetary in the woods

A unique rock forest typical in Bohemia 

Enjoying my 65th birthday with old friends at Haus Der Stille

After the ten day retreat at Haus Der Stille I flew to Stockholm with two meditation students from the retreat who wanted to also do the retreat in North Sweden. We connected in Stockholm to a flight to Umea, located about 800 kilometers north of Stockholm. The retreat was held in the small town of Fredrika, situated by a large lake. The summertime with near 24 hour daylight and plentiful lakes makes Northern Sweden an ideal habitat for mosquitoes. Hence the photo at the top of this post. 
I was surprised to find that there is a Thai Buddhist temple just outside Fredrika on a hilltop overlooking the forests and lakes. There are two large statues, a standing Buddha and a seated image of Pra Achan Tate, a renowned Thai Forest meditation master reputed to have been an Arahat. It seems that every year 400 Thai men and women come to Fredrika to pick blueberries in the summer in the surrounding forests. And a lot of Swedish men have married Thai women who now live in Umea, and other places in Sweden. Hence this Thai temple has come to be. 

 Ringing the gong

Typical landscape of Sweden

Scenes from the retreat
 Inside the wooden structure (usually a summer square dance hall) turned into our temporary meditation hall

A Farewell practice of Metta to our little friends

Next stop Ottawa Canada