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|Year and Month||July, 2012 (1st to 4th)|
|Number of Days||4 Days (3 night)|
|Crew||2 persons (Myself Driving, and my wife)|
|Accommodation||Nilambe Meditation Center kutis|
|Transport||Lite Ace van|
|Activities||To get out of busy city and be in recluse and meditation for 3 days|
|Weather||Bit cloudy but ok|
|Route||Colombo -> Kandy turn off at Galaha Junction at Peradeniya University road up to Nilambe (18 km) – (total mileage 260km)|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Since it was a four day long weekend only Monday was a working day and Tuesday a Poya day, we both decided to travel to Galaha Kandy Nilambe Meditation Center to spend the time in recluse and out of reach of the hectic life in Colombo, without Telephones, Radio, Television and Electricity and all that.
The reservation has to be done at least two weeks ahead of date of travel to be on the safe side and,
Regarding reservation and booking details will be given at the end of report
The centre can be reached by travelling to Peradeniya (Galaha junction) the turn off to the Peredeniya University road leading to Galaha.We traveled about 18 Km up to a place called Office Junction on Galaha Rikillagaskada road.
From there it is a steep hill of 4.5 Km through tea plantations to reach the centre.
On the way to the center it’s a breath taking scenery of the area
We left Colombo at about 9.30 Am in the morning and came to Peradeniya junction and had lunch in a way side hotel and reached Nilambe at about 2.00 Pm. 130 Km.
Upon reaching the center we first went to the office and met Mr. Upul (Here the resident meditation teacher Kalyanamithra Upul Nishanta Gamage or simply Upul Sir or Upul,) a very charming meditation master and received us with a serene and kind smile. We saw the giant figure standing so calm and feel the kindness in his voice & the eyes were radiating compassion right round him.
Upon registration as we were informed earlier by Upul Sir, that the Centre will provide only Room facilities (single or shared)/ Vegetarian meals / Bed sheets, pillows, blankets, Candles etc.
We were given our bedding, Pillow and a blanket before our kuti was shown by a person at the center.
There is No electricity in the Centre and a torch is a MUST .Although they provide candles its better you bring your requirement.
We were asked to bring or should bring Sweaters/Jackets for cold weather, toiletries, a torch, an umbrella, and an alarm clock.
We were allocated two rooms (කුටි), one for me at the men’s section and a room top wife at the Women’s section.
My room a clean and ventilated room and I was fortunate the as it was a double room with lots of space and no other occupant was there. But there are single room kutis too.
The Common Toilets adjoining the Kutties. There are four sets of Kuties in one set of units.
Upul Sri told us the daily routine and the time table is on the wall of each Kuti he said.
The time table is as follows:
04.45am Wake-up Gong
05:00am Group Meditation
06:30am Mindfulness In Motion
08:00am Working Meditation
09.30am Group Meditation
11:00am Individual/Outdoor Meditation
12.30pm Library open. Rest/Reading time
02.00pm Walking Meditation (Indoor/Outdoor)
02.30pm Group Meditation
03.30pm Tea break (practicing right speech)
04.00pm Mindfulness In Motion
05.00pm Working Meditation (Meditation with nature)
06.15pm Soya coffee/evening snack
06.45pm Chanting and Group Meditation
08.00pm Meditation in the room and sleeping time
We were asked to take up residence have a rest and come on time for a cup of tea 3.30 pm with the sound of the Log.
There is no gong but a hollow log is used and hammed with another log hammer to indicate time of commencement of programs.
We all assembled at the dining room and followed each other in silence and poured our tea and sat on bench to taste the tea. It’s only at that time that the mediators can talk in silence to each other. Not politics or say day’s news but to know each other or ask about the programs if you are a first comer.
After tea we went to the meditation Hall and we both sat in meditation whilst rest went to the other hall to do yoga practice. We were new and as such we sat in meditation for an hour and went to our rooms.
We came back at 6.30 to the dining hall for the night snack of Nilambe special” snack of “Hulang biscuits & Soya coffee with fresh milk”. No dinner is served as mediators have to be light and not have a heavy dinner as IF we were observing the eight precepts. Only the five precepts are observed for meditation.
At 6.45pm it was Chanting and offering of Buddha pooja and reciting of the appropriate Gatahas and the Karaneiya mettha Sutra.and Group Meditation led by Upul Sir.
The ended at 8.00Pm and we all retired to our kuties and it was the first night at Nilambe.
The first night of rest without electricity and alone in a kuti in the jungle surrounding.
Background information about the center.
The land where the center is built on a tea estate was donated and made possible by a Buddhist Philanthropist Mr. Alahakoon to start a meditation center for Lay people.
According to the Web Page of the Nilambe center,
“In the late 1970s a group of friends from Kandy used to meet twice a week at the engineer’s bungalow at Peradeniya University for meditation sittings. The leader of the group was Mr. Ratnayaka (Chief, we used to call him) and the others were Godwin Samararatana, Bhante S. Dhammika, Dr. Parakrama Fernando, Prof. Lily De Silva, Pat Jayatilleke and Prof. Witanachchi. In time they all become friends and discussed the possibilities of having their own purpose-built place for meditation, although this seemed like to ever happen. In 1977 the university authorities asked this group to vacate the engineer’s bungalow so it could be used for other purposes. Just before this happened a prosperous Kandian businessman, Mr. P. B. Alahakoon and his wife, became regulars at the meditation sessions. When the group vacated the bungalow Mr. Alahakoon offered, not just to donate land to build a meditation centre but to pay for the construction of buildings as well. With his ‘can do’ practicality and enthusiasm the project was soon completed. When the centre was finished, Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, who just happened to be visiting Sri Lanka, were invited to conduct the inaugural meditation course which some 60 local and foreign mediators attended. At that time the centre consisted of a single hall with an attached kitchen and for at least the first 18 months mediators both meditated and slept in the hall.”
Next day 2nd July was our real day at Nilambe
I got up at 4.00am with the help of the alarm clock. The day began at 4.45 in the morning with the sounding of the hollow log. The sound created by hitting this log is the means of communicating the start of an activity and it’s time to start coming to the meditation hall. Its heard to all corners of the center.
All sit in as a group and meditate till 6.oo o’clock Upul Sir leads the mediation at his appointed seat. The end of the mediation is indicated by ringing a small bell by Upul Sir.. You then walk down to the kitchen just next to the meditation hall to pick up a cup and pour your morning tea. Hardly anyone talks except a brief greeting. After collecting the tea, we sit in silence at a place of your choice and have the tea. Some prefer to sit inside the kitchen; others sit outside where there are cement benches.
After tea around 6.20, the Yoga session begins. It is not compulsory.
Those who do not wish to join Yoga classes take a morning walk up the hill. It is indeed a treat. You walk through a thick grove of pine trees above the meditation center.
The next half hour is to get ready for breakfast. Near every dormitory or the line of ‘kutis’ there is a wash room with running water. Water just flows down from the lake on top of the hill.
The Women’s section where my wife was resident
After you finish your morning ablutions’ Breakfast is served at 8.00 am. We come to the dining hall line up and serve our selves.. It is a simple breakfast. It’s a Porridge made out of brown rice flour and ‘kurakkan’ and coconut milk. It’s a recipe of Upul sir, we were told. One can add a banana or dates and roasted peanuts which is also served at the table.
Once again eating is only to satisfy hunger. You try to eat mindfully, without talking. Silence is the key word. You finish your breakfast and wash the plate mindfully and place it at the right place. Again a cup of tea and breakfast over we go to work mindfully.
Doing some work mindfully is a very good practice for lay people like us. We can choose one of the daily routine works which keeps the place going. While some choose to clean toilets others work in the kitchen or clean the areas around the ‘kutis’ they stay in. Some cut grass while others repair a broken foot path. Once again the important thing is how you can do it mindfully.
I first cleaned the meditation hall changed the flower trays and cleaned the alter.
At 9.30 in the morning the log gong goes again announcing the time for Group meditation in the main hall. The main hall is about 100 ft long and 20 feet wide (a photograph is at the earlier pages) it is a simple hall. Along the walls on all four sides is a cement bench of about 1ft high and 2ft wide. The whole floor including the surface of the bench is covered with mats. There are enough cushions of different shapes and sizes. The art is to sit with your back straight and the weight of the body distributed evenly to both legs.
You choose the type of seat that suits you and sit for a meditation session for two to three hours. Depending on your choice you can either sit the whole period or mix it with a session or two of walking in the meditation hall as well as go outside and walk in the pathways in front of the hall.
Though you meditate as a group there are no instructions given to the whole group at once. The wooden gong to end the session goes after two hours. Yet some sit longer. Others leave the hall silently and retire in to their own ‘kutis’ and continue their meditation on their own until lunch time.
Once you retire to the room you can have a bath or meditate. Therese is a hot water shower (solar water system) at the main men’s wash room below the office.
Lunch is served at 12.00 noon. As usual the log gong is sounded and we assemble at the meal hall. It is a simple, balanced vegetarian meal.
Eating mindfully, is the key word , no hurry, watching the desire to experience tastier food, experiencing the touch sensation of the fingers, and at taste points of the tongue, observing the smell of the food, becoming aware of the wandering of the mind while eating, these are all part of the meditation.
It is interesting to see how the mind wanders between the plate and the lip.
After lunch there is time for rest and using the library till three in the afternoon. But the library roof was under repairs and the library was closed when we were there.
But leaflets and small booklets were at the dining hall in a bag where we could select and take to Kuti to read and return when we come back for tea.
The afternoon meditation session starts at 3.00pm and lasts for two hours. After the meditation session tea is served in the kitchen.
The rest of the program is as mentioned earlier.
Ass usual The evening pooja begins at 7.00. But by 6.30 all retire to the main hall and sit on the ground in front of the small white statue of Buddha. Upul sir sits behind and we lead the pooja.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the Pali stanzas, a small booklet where Pali stanzas are written in English letters and with the meaning in English.
Buddhists observe Pansil and join the chanting. Others just listen.
There was Non Buddhists amongst the mediators. You need not be a Buddhist to use the facilities for meditation at Nilambe.
The chanting is done in a way so that the westerners can pronounce them easily. The candles that burn in front of most of the meditators to read the books help create a serene ambiance in the whole place. The chantings end with the Karaniya Metta Sutta and the group sit together for a short meditation on loving kindness.
The supper as mentioned is a few Hulang biscuits, bread and Astra margarine and a cup of hot Soya coffee. Though many may feel it is not enough, you will be surprised to find that you hardly feel hungry in the night.
If you bring a (Thomas flask) hot water bottle you could get hot water and take to kuti make a cup of tea or Viva or Nescafe in sachets in the kuti, but no lighting of a cooking hearth inside or outside kuti…
It is encouraged to use candles in the kutis to protect the environment. You begin to realize how little light you really need to live when you spend a few nights at Nilambe. Better than going on a camping trip
We left at 2.00Pm on the 4th July somewhat sad as we had to leave such a serene and a peaceful place.
Before leaving all has to clean the kuti, toilets and the wash basin outside and wash the pillow case and the bed sheet which you used and put out at the cloths line in front of the kuti and hand over the pillow and bed sheet and the key to the office before departure and give a donation which one can afford..
You also can bring your own bed sheets pillows and blankets without requesting them from the center.
I have put down this trip report 4completely different to other trips I have submitted.
It’s my wife and my experience and information that I have put hoping it would be useful to Lakdasun members as mental activity is common occurrence in everyone of us .My wish is that the members and readers will think of making a trip to this serene centre of meditation situated in a salubrious climate of Nilambe instead of a camping trip and practice meditation for a couple of days.
Sadu! Sadu!! Sadu!!!
Nilambe Buddhist Meditation Centre
Please contact Upul via email as it is very difficult for you to contact Centre by phone +94 777 804 555 or call +94 777 811 653 and be patient until you get a reply from Upul. Faster mode is by SMS to the dialog number.
Reservations & all other inquiries: email@example.com
About this web site: firstname.lastname@example.org
As there are limited rooms you have to make a reservation at least two weeks before to the arrival date.
There is a per person charge to be paid by foreigners. No charges for locals.
7.30am – 8.30am / 11.00am – 12.00pm / 4.00pm – 5.00pm
WHILE YOU ARE THERE
- Observe the five precepts.
- No smoking in and around the centre.
- Observe Nobel Silence at all time except during the afternoon tea break (3.30-4.00 pm).
- Radios, mobile phones and loud talking at any time can disturb those who might be meditating in their rooms. If you must talk please do so only at a distance from any buildings.
- Particularly at night please maintain silence in order to assist the rest and sleep of yourself and the mediators in nearby rooms.
- Be sensitive to local cultural customs, particularly with dress, behavior with opposite sex (keep contact to a minimum).
- Dress appropriately. Dress more to conceal than to reveal (No sleeveless vests, shirts and blouses and keep your legs covered at all times).
- Do not visit the rooms of the opposite sex. Nor go walking out in the surrounding countryside together.
- Appreciate your participation in evening chanting. Please sit on the floor for the chanting period.
- If you have any questions about meditation, the Dhamma or about this centre please discuss with the teachers or office staff and not with the other meditators. Please refrain from giving instructions to other mediators