Meditating on the ‘terp’

Boeddhawierde (‘mound of Buddha’) is a retreat centre in Usquert, a tiny village in the North of the Netherlands. We offer retreats for beginners and experiences people. Our own starting point is Buddhism, but we are open to people of all beliefs.

Boeddhawierde can also be rented out to groups of up to 10 persons.

It is placed in a quiet street, opposite the church, with friendly neighbours and playing children, a car crawling by about three times a day, and possibly the sound of a lawnmower. So it is not completely silent, but still a very suitable place to meditate and calm down. At the rear is a beautiful garden, in which you can sit and where you are completely alone.

Around Usquert there is the dutch polder – flatter than flat. You can go for walks and explore the old local villages. It takes about an hour to walk to Noordpolderzijl, where the Waddensea begins.

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Buddhism is a path of spiritual development that leads to insight in how life really is. Buddhist practices are ways to change yourself so that qualities like mindfulness, kindness and wisdom can become part of your character.

The practical methods of buddhism (such as meditation) allow people to transform their experience and to take full responsibility for their lives.

In the course of the 25 centuries of it existence the buddhist tradition has created a treasure of resources for all those who wish to follow such a path—a path that ultimately culminates in awakening.

Awakening or enlightenment is a state in which the veils of greed, hatred and ignorance that constantly obstruct our view have fallen away. It is a process that can go gradually or suddenly, mostly both of them alternating.

The basic tenets of buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. Buddhism is not aimed at a particular group or part of the world. Although its origins are in the East, it is a universal religion. Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of origin, gender, lifestyle, or whatever.


Buddhist meditation is a way to learn to know yourself, and to transform. It needs a relaxed, open and alert attitude, and this attitude is developed by engaging in it. In meditation your attention and concentration are sharpened, and you develop calmness, kindness, and presence. Very often the effects can be noticed after even a short while. By practising regularly and patiently, these qualities become habits and can transform yourself and your environment.

The main meditations taught in Triratna are the ‘mindfulness of breathing’ (anapanasati), the ‘cultivation of loving kindness’ (metta bhavana), and ‘just sitting’. Besides that we also do reflective meditations (vipassanna).

Meditating is a voyage of discovery, an adventure. In earlier centuries people went to other continents to explore those. Now the outer world has been mapped out, but the inner world is for a large part still unknown, and the way of exploring is also completely different. The voyage of meditation can transform you, lead you to deeper levels of consciousness, and eventually to awakening.


A sixth-century Chinese emperor once asked the monk Bodhidharma, ‘What is the essence of Buddhism?’ Bodhidharma replied, ‘Stop doing evil, learn to do good, purify your heart.’ The emperor was disappointed and asked, ‘Is that all? A three-year-old child understands that!’ To which Bodhidharma replied: ‘Certainly your majesty, but even an eighty-year-old man cannot put it into practice!’

Ethics are an important aspect of the Buddhist path. The basic principle is that we try to do whatever is conducive to a liberated and awakened state—for ourselves and all others.

There are no absolute commandments and prohibitions, but anyone who takes the law of cause and effect seriously knows that there are certain laws in our behavior. It’s smart not to do certain things if you don’t want to taste the consequences.

The five ‘precepts’

These ethical laws are expressed in the five ‘precepts’ or rules of training. They can be formulated negatively (which is not helpful) and positively (which is helpful).

Positive Negative
1. kindness non-violence
2. generosity not taking what is not yours
3. feeling fulfilled and satisfied abstaining from sexual misconduct
4. truthful communication not using untruthful language
5. live mindfully not using intoxicants


The path of transformation is a complete, total, and profound change in your understanding, your emotional life, your way of communicating, your relationships, your work and livelihood, your social involvement, and more. It aims to lift your entire life to the level of its highlights of your life, so that you can fully blossom.

The eightfold path

The classic description of it is the eightfold path: a grouping of life into eight areas. These are:

  1. Vision. The way you look at the world largely determines your reality
  2. Intention/emotion. With what intention do you do what you do? Can you also cultivate and deepen your emotional life?
  3. Communication. How sincere and truthful are you in communication? But it’s not just about truth, also kindness, helpfulness and gracefulness are essential.
  4. Action. These are the ethical guidelines of the five training principles.
  5. Livelihood. This is about your work and social involvement, including your behavior as a consumer. Do you (indirectly) contribute to exploitation, violence, exclusion? How active are you in combating injustice, near and far?
  6. Practice. Developing positive ways of being, and counteracting negative ones.
  7. Attention (mindfulness). Practicing presence of mind.
  8. Meditation. Working on your consciousness, the source of everything.

These eight areas cover the whole of life, both inner and outer, and their different aspects keep each other in balance. Sometimes you have to work more on one aspect, and then on another. Some people are more inclined towards one aspect, others towards another. When these eight areas all blossom together, then this is the blossoming of your entire life: awakening or enlightenment.

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