Three months after the course finished, Jan reflects on his time at Adhisthana and very honestly shares his expereince about what it was like to do.
Caroline asked me to write a bit about my experience during the Dharma Life Course. I am back home now for about three months and a lot of people have asked me the same question. I realised that I struggle to find the right words to describe my experience.
Of course, I could tell you about the accommodation, about our timetable or the Dharma study. But none of these will actually tell you what it was like for me.
I learned about the Dharma Life Course at the Triratna International Gathering in 2019. The event took place in Adhisthana and a DLC had just started at that time. I talked to some of the participants and was, from that time on, sure that I wanted to do the course myself. Because of COVID, it took two years for the next course to happen which I applied for right away. At first, I was nervous if I would get a place. In the end, it turned out there nearly weren’t enough applications at all. So instead of nine participants, we ended up being six guys doing the course.
The community living was quite different from what I had imagined. I had lived in communal living before when I was studying at university, but I had never shared a room. Also, we did not just live together, we had several events together every day. To be honest, for the first weeks it was not easy for me to adjust – I especially missed private space. But I got used to the circumstances. In hindsight it was really good conditions for getting to know the other guys very closely; and also to learn a lot about myself.
Three afternoons each week we had work periods. Mostly we helped out in the garden or with housekeeping, which involved a lot of cleaning. At first, I was not a fan of the work periods, I just did it because it was part of the course, but after a few weeks, I actually grew very fond of it. It was a great counterpart to our study and meditation-heavy schedule. Furthermore doing the work, especially parts I didn’t like, made me reflect a lot about my own psyche and states of mind, and finally by contributing to the retreat centre, I was not merely another guest, I really felt like a part of the team.
Also, the community of people living in Adhisthana was amazing. Next to our normal schedule, we were given the opportunity to do optional classes in meditation or other spiritual practices, which gave the whole course a much broader perspective. Even just going for a walk with different community members, getting to know them a bit, and talking about all kinds of things enriched my perspective a lot. Right from the start all of us were received with a hearty welcome and that warmth stayed until we had to leave.
I want to be honest. Doing the Dharma Life Course is not just easy and everything is not always great. There are times when doing the course feels hard and working on oneself becomes pretty uncomfortable. But in fact, these things are a huge part of what made my DLC an unforgettable experience. It is not a spa holiday. But it has the potential to change your life. It certainly did for me.