Just recently I’ve had a great fortune to spending six weeks in Danakosha ling in southern Finland and would like to share few impressions. Here’s why.
First, although the community of its resident teacher, Tulku Dakpa Rinpoche, exists already more than ten years, this estate has been bought only a year ago, so the center is very young and in some need of introduction.
Second, I guess unlike most visitors of Danakosha, I did not get to know it throughout a period of teachings or meditation practice, but doing some voluntary work, or karmayoga if you please, during an exceptionally quiet period of summer.
Last not least, I’ve had a perfect time, doing something useful and having a nice vacation with my girlfriend after a somewhat challenging year, so why not spread the word.
Impression No 1. Finnish hospitality and great cuisine
Sounds a bit cheesy, but I’ve never been to the “North” before and frankly, I expected the people to be generally morose, or introvert at least. To my surprise it’s quite the opposite, and not just with the Danakosha folks. As the ling is situated within a walking distance of some 20 minutes from a peculiar village of Jokioinen, which I learned to be among the most educated municipalities in Finland, I’ve had many possibilities to meet locals and see some parts of their everyday life. Though the Finnish often see themselves as conservative and shy, to me they rather proved to be exceptionally relaxed, gentle-hearted and respectful.
As for Danakosha, since our arrival there in July, we were most kindly taken care of by Natalia, a longtime member who at that time dedicated her efforts towards maintaining the garden. Starting with, there were daily meals with beds included along with a simple and undemanding working schedule – sounds a bit boring, but... Not sure whether it was due to the prevailingly female presence in the ling, some blessing of the particular place or a favorable coincidence, but somehow, throughout the whole stay I’ve never lost a deep sense of being home, taken care of and safe. Meeting with some nice people, having inspirational conversations, sharing simple yet delicious meals prepared with a lot of love, discovering sauna…the month or so quickly passed away.
Impression No 2. The garden
From what I heard, the garden has been some sort of local sightseeing place for some time now, long before Danakosha anyway. Built over centuries and lastly maintained by a sibling couple, whose family had owned the estate for many generations, it makes natural beauty arise most vigorously. But it’s not rare, exotic or simply gorgeous plants alone, but their combinations and distribution too, which provides the ling with a variety of peaceful and uniquely separated dimensions.
Luckily for us, during the summer, the functional part of the garden also produces healthy, organic veggies, herbs and fruit, including many berries. Naturally, it takes time to get to know the many faces of the surroundings, but it’s definitely worth it.
Impression No 3. Place for wisdom
Naturally, it’s not all been dining nicely and strolling through the gardens. My attachment to result and a chronic need to exceed the time scheduled for work brought along some tensions and obstacles as well. But especially thanks to the supportive atmosphere and a high level of enthusiasm of everybody involved, this time, dealing with that came surprisingly easy. Personally, I cherish these lessons learned the most.
One last thought. Ever since becoming familiar with the scope of the project of Danakosha Ling, I couldn’t escape skepticism as for the ability to realize it within a reasonable time, considering the size of the sangha and its material possibilities. But eventually I came to realize it’s just my own limitations showing. In fact these people started with practically nothing ten years ago, after having invited a relatively unknown teacher to their home country, where budhism has had no roots yet, and now are developing a considerable retreat center with the main temple and some other important features already finished. It seems to me that Danakosha sangha, full of deeply devoted and skillful people led by a virtuous teacher is on their best way and I wish them only good luck going ahead.