Roger Harty: My Visit To Dzogchen Beara

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ABOUT 14 years ago when I was troubled with issues of ‘the mind’, I set out on a quest to solve these issues.

I came to the conclusion that if my mind could make me sick, then my mind could also make me better.

As a result of this quest I started to explore the Buddhist religion as, again, I came to the conclusion that 500 million Buddhists can’t all be wrong. So what was it all about?  If I was to pass judgement on it I should at least explore it first.

I was brought up in a household where you were encouraged to taste the soup first before you put salt in it.

Was I a little nervous about this exploration? Of course I was, because I was reared in a traditional Catholic background, so therefore I was out of my comfort Zone.

In hindsight there are two things that spring to mind 14 years later on. There was no need to be nervous because:

1. My exploration of Buddhism didn’t diminish my Catholic Faith – if I was to say anything, it greatly enhanced it.

2. I came to the realisation that many people regard Buddhism more as a philosophy and a way of living more so than a religion.

In any case I didn’t really care as long as it worked!

To this end I decided to pay a visit to the Buddhist retreat centre in Dzogchen Beara which is situated near Allihies on the Beara peninsula in Co Cork, about 10 minutes drive from Castletownbere.

I went there with a certain degree of both excitement and anticipation. To be honest I hadn’t a clue what to expect as I was a complete novice.

In my head I was looking forward to seeing hordes of bald headed monks in saffron robes chanting to their hearts’ content. This was not to be the case.

What I found was the most peaceful retreat centre you could ever imagine, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with the most magnificent view of that same ocean. A true image of heaven on Earth.

To my surprise (and I must admit a little disappointment!) it became a case of ‘spot the monk’ as I think I only saw one person clad in traditional regalia in the whole day.

I’m told that many monks can be seen on special retreat days.

It is a place of great serenity and beauty, where ordinary people give themselves a break away from the hustle and bustle or everyday life, in order to pay attention and stand back from what was going on in their lives.

What is called paying attention to your ‘inner self’ where one is encouraged to slow down and create the space for doing this.

Is this not what Jesus meant when He said “Be Still and Know that I Am God”

To this end Dzogchen Beara is the perfect getaway, to practice ‘stillness’ as there are many places to practice meditation, both indoors and outdoors in the utmost peace and comfort.

On my visit there were two daily meditations, the first in the lower building overlooking the ocean at 9.00 am and the second meditation at 3.00 pm in the Upper building which I believe is also a fabulous hospice centre. It finishes at 4pm which is perfect for the 2 hour journey to Tralee.

They also provide you with a fabulous vegetarian lunch for €10 and there is a lovely little coffee shop/library where one can chill and purchase books and memorabilia.

To add to all this they have now added a brand new Temple which will be opened in 2019.

Next week I am going to write about — Good Old Fashioned Abstinence

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