After four years, I returned to Bodhi Khaya Retreat, a place that gave me the time and space to recover from a broken marriage, a broken business, a broken connection with my dead mother… and, yes, a broken heart. Bodhi Khaya saved me. It challenged me. And it rebuilt me. A very nice lady allowed me to live there for three months. In return, I was expected to feed the chickens and tend to the plants in the circular organic vegetable garden and among the labyrinth. And pull out weeds. So I did.
But I spent most of the time drinking humungous mugs of tea, smoking and staring at the mountains. And pulling out the dead and blackened and alien invaders that had occupied my heart. Clearing. I learned to meditate. And realised I had been doing it all my life. While sipping cold tea. Cleansing…
I also learned to take off all my clothes and roll naked in the mud at the magnificent little waterfall that was hidden off one of the many paths leading up the mountain. Liberating. I stood outside the kitchen at night, after being the last to leave and switching off the lights. I stood in the blackness of the Overberg night, under the ancient tree…and didn’t flinch when the bat flew so close to my face that I felt its wings brush my face.
I sneaked my little CD player into the retreat and lay awake, listening to the frogs croak a million different notes…and the baboons argue over the best place in which to sleep in the blue gums, while Neil Young comforted me.
Not very Buddhist. But still replenishing.
And then I would creep up through the dark grass, hoping I would not step on a snake, up to the reservoir and swim silently in the cool water on a hot summer’s night.
While the water rocked against the walls and lapped over my floating body as I watched the stars.
With sufficient moonlight to see the dead frog fraying and decaying on the bottom…
And wishing I was “skinny dipping” with the Woodstock artist with the perfect body and fragile eyes.
But we were dead too. So I touched her perfect body with my mind. And got cold.
And warm. When I met a wise man. From Hawaii. Who filled my head with Rumi. And helped me find room in my heart…
to start again.
Bodhi Khaya is situated on Baviaans Fonteyn Farm, the oldest in the area. In 1791 the farm was granted to Dirk Cloete, son of Hendrick Cloete, owner of Groot Constantia and one of the Cape’s largest landowners at the time. The land has been divided, changed and re-shaped since then, but the present owner, Georgina Hamilton, has carefully created a sanctuary for those who wish to explore the thoroughfares of the heart and mind. Today Bodhi Khaya is an open and welcoming spiritual home for all.
Bodhi Khaya blends Buddhism with South African culture. ‘Bodhi’ means ‘awareness’ in Sanskrit and refers to the Buddha’s knowledge when he attained enlightenment 2500 years ago, while ‘khaya’ goes beyond its better-known meaning of ‘home’ to express a sense of belonging and a spiritual base. Building on the traditions of our physical and spiritual ancestors, Bodhi Khaya is a spiritual haven for those on their journey to awakening.