Taraloka Buddhist Retreat Centre for Women.
This Thai representation of Shakyamuni Buddha, two metres tall and hand carved in wood, is situated in the meditaion hall, converted from the granary of Cornhill Farm. The land around the building is now a wildlife habitat.
In the 1970s a small group of women Buddhists began a series of meetings to explore the needs of the Women’s Sangha within the Triratna Buddhist movement: the need for depth in meditation and Dharma practice; and the need for depth in the collective discipline of shared work and the focus of common project.
Over the years, as they organised and led women’s retreats in various hired venues, they began to crystallise a more detailed vision: a residential community running a retreat centre that would host women’s retreats for the Triratna Community and beyond.
In 1985, after several years of fundraising and a long property search, Cornhill farm, Bettisfield was bought and given the name ‘Taraloka’, the ‘Realm of Tara’. It was probably the only women’s retreat centre in the world and the first retreat was held a couple of months later, using the farm house which now accommodates the residential community. In the preceding years women volunteered their time, skills and enthusiasm to convert the farm buildings into a usable retreat centre. They also volunteered to run retreats. It was the beginning of a retreat schedule that has developed in breadth and depth over the last three decades. Taraloka now runs up to 55 events a year: 50 of those are women’s retreats led by women.
Whilst the retreat centre was established and developed, the residential community continued to hold responsibility for the project. About a hundred women have lived and worked here (from three months upwards), with hundreds more coming for shorter periods of time. At present, the community comprises of nine women, and in 2013 the community hosted four younger women as part of a nine-month project, taking the membership of the community to thirteen.
Source: Curious Clwyd – Gordon Emery, P,86-87. taraloka.org.uk/about-taraloka/history