Suryavana. Directors Report 2023

Dear all

I would like to thank you for your continued support of Suryavana.

In September 2021, I took the responsibility of becoming “Director”, “President” of the association, Suryavana. The new “Triratna Buddhist Community, Xèrica Retreat Centre.”

In September 2020, a year earlier, with my family, we moved to Suryavana. mostnof the time we live on-site and we are in our fourth winter. I could tell of many stories and experiences over these four years, the story of the first Winter, of the snow-storm “Filomena”, when the gas ran out and for two months the whole family slept in the living room, the Hergom fireplace lit 24 hours. The story of the second Winter, without electricity, because the old batteries failed and because of the crisis in the production of things as a result of the Pandemic, the new batteries arrived 5 months late. The forest goblins cast their spell,and as if by magic when the Sun went down, the solar panels ceased to produce electricity and an absolute silence descended over the Centre. No electricity, no water pump, no Internet. No nothing. The third winter brought some relief with the arrival of Isra García and the Vegan-crudivores. I could tell you about the arrival of the chickens, “liberated” from their lives normally cut off at 40 days. Now happy chickens in their county-abode. I could tell you about the birth of our dog Sonic during the Great Summer Fire 2022 which almost transformed the entire area into black carbon and ash. We literally lived for a few days in the middle of a Cremation Ground. And many more things. But maybe something to tell you in person.

We can say that we have done a study or contemplation after four years living with the project, from within the project. An intimate reflection. The ups and downs. Clearly, my internal states have been affected. My mental states. How could they not be?! On a mythic level I am working a dream of living in a Buddhist Temple. When I returned to the UK from Thailand after several meditation retreats in the Thai Wats in 1995 I told my good friend Narapriya, that I wanted to sleep in the Buddhist Centre of Newcastle Upon Tyne. 25 years later there was an opportunity to do it.

Suryavana is not an easy project to manage. It is a new project with limited economic and human resources. Like many Triratna projects or many “Start-up” projects, it’s pioneering. It requires a lot of dedication, love and patience. In 2016, the Valencia Buddhist Centre bought the Masia with almost no capital, which is a marvel in itself. The infrastructure and facilities are already old (15 years old is old for a boiler and central heating system) and in some cases obsolete, 20th century technologies. They all require a lot of love and attention to keep them running. Our support generator, the Taigüer, is a good example, a diesel generator, the “beast”, the size of a truck engine, from China 2010. I am convinced it has 40 more years of service though.

Suryavana is the first Triratna Retreat Centre aimed at the local population, that is, the Spanish in Spain. We have other retreat centres here such as Guyhaloka and Akashavana but they are focused Internationally and the Ordination process. In every sense Suryavana is a pioneering project with all the challenges that go with that. Sometimes I have the feeling (at least in my imagination) that we are “entering into a relationship” (in a mostly friendly way) with the gods and goddesses of the place to win our right to be here. Interestingly, our dear neighbour Ángel told me that the farmhouse has already had several owners since its construction in 1900. Almost every ten years people leave her. “Why?” I asked and he told me that it is a hard land to cultivate, not very productive (olives and almonds). In fact, this year, thanks to the drought, there is very little of our own olive oil.

Well, our vision is something different, a Dharma Centre, a Buddhist Temple in the Wild West of Castellón. What I hope, will be decades, centuries even. Forever. For eternity. Let’s see if it works out that way.

The last four years

In September 2020, the Pandemic was in full development, we moved to the house. We spent several Lock-downs there. During this time we simply accumulated more debts. We cancelled many events but the expenses, the mortgages, continued. The bank didn’t even answer our calls. Too busy. I guess. All very disagreeable!

We took advantage of the break in receiving groups to re-build the Wooden Cabin for solitary retreats (or countryside “escapes”) now in high demand.

“Balancing the books” seems very complicated, almost seems impossible at times. We are not a regular hospitality “business”, a hotel or Country House that offers beer and parties. We are a Buddhist Temple. A Triratna Centre. I have the impression periodically that you have to take a rabbit out of a hat to fill the gaps.

A friend’s mother once told me that we could set up a brothel (instead of doing retreats)…….private house in the countryside with 10 rooms, en suite bathrooms, pleasant views, just an hour from Valencia……and we are also in Wild West of Castellón. Why not? It will be more profitable, she says. But I replied that I didn’t think it resonated well with our values. The walls are a little thin for such an activity!

The numbers

To cover expenses (including a small support for me), we need about 60,000 euros a year to keep the project going. It comes out at five thousand euros a month. We could share a detailed Excel if you want to see more details. This year, fortuna shining her light and a lot of work, we have achieved, even a small surplus.

As Director and as a Council, part of our responsibility is to try to ensure the economic well-being of Suryavana, that we pay the various debts and try to ensure a future and continued existence, including Abundance and growth of the project.

The good news we can tell you is that simply by keeping the project going the last four years, the mortgage has gone down about 40,000 euros. that’s without even calling the bank! We have returned a loan of 10,000 euros to a friend. And we are already settling another loan to Maite (Moksananda wife). We have made several renovations, new batteries (about 10 000), a Bosch dishwasher, new meditation gear, the Zafus and mats, renewing all the mosquito nets among many more things.

In January 2022, we had a conversation with one of our “Investors”, Windhorse Trust (They helped us buy the Masia in 2016). After this conversation they recommended that we focus on building a “reserve” (in my mind ideally about 15,000 euros or three months of expenses).

We have tried to increase income focussing especially on “non-Triratna” groups. Partly because we see that Triratna in Spain, for now, cannot sustain too much activity and secondly because there is also a great opportunity to offer our precious place to the rest of the world, sharing some of its beauty and Peace to other communities of practitioners that share a similar vision and values.

I also had in mind the idea of developing an element of an ethical work space, and working in a team (team based right livelihood), supporting the cooks and team when possible.

Triratna activity. This year the Buddhist Center of Valencia, our sister project, has organized several retreats in Suryavana with a contribution of about 6,000 euros. (10% of our annual needs). There were two events with men in the Ordering process “IAR Withdrawals”, contributing another 6 thousand euros (another 10% of our necessary income and then three weekends of the Order (approximately another 3,000 euros), and 5% of our income necessary to “survive”.

In short, Triratna activity has contributed 25% of the necessary income so that Suryavana could continue to function. The other 75% have come from other sources. Money doesn’t grow on trees, they say! At least that’s what my dear parents told me. We have worked hard to look for it.

After another conversation recently with a neighbour in Viver, I realized that you have to relate to Suryavana not only as a mythical place where meditation and spiritual practices are done but also as a business and I have to see myself more as a “Business person” an “Entrepreneur”. I am very grateful for her comment, even though she doesn’t know how important it was. We have to be more precise and exacting with money issues. My character is one of generosity, sharing and being flexible and adaptable to situations and people. And hoping every ing will work out. But I see that if we are going to get on in Suryavana we have to be a little more “formal”. As they say in Spanish.

In the Winter, expenses skyrocket mainly due to the issue of propane gas for the central heating. We are paying Primagas a fortune (double what the market offers now) and I am trying to get out of the contract and establish a better one. I have done a precise study on Suryavana’s expenses in the winter. The heating consumes between 15-25 kg of gas per day. It’s amazing but I’ve got it nailed, I even talked to a technician a few days ago about the issue. The Ferroli heating system (Italian built) (the fierce Italian I call it) is a very powerful 74 kW central heating “furnace”. It seems that it “drinks” propane. Imagine two of those orange gas bottles (used ubiquitously here in Spain) every day. It comes out at 75 euros a day.

Then, due to the lack of sunlight and hence solar power, we burn through about 20 liters of diesel on the support generator (the Taigüer 30kW – our Chinese tiger at home) every week long retreat. About 50 euros in diesel. Our “Chinese tiger” is too big for our needs, it could supply the Segorbe Christmas fair without problem.

Then if we add the food (prices have gone up as we know). The local oil was 26.50 euros for five liters in 2020 when we started living in Suryavana. This year it costs 55 euros for 5 liters. More than double.

Where do we want to go?

I have a plan in my head for the next 3/4 years. Up to even 2034. (10 years). We have been here four years and more or less I could imagine the next four. Life may well have other plans. We live, of course, in the middle of the Cremation Grounds and impermanence and death are always present. Any Buddhist should be aware of this reality. Anything can come undone. Indeed right now things are “undoing themselves”.

The Abundance. Growth of the project

What I would like to see is growth and Abundance. More enjoyment, more pleasure, more play, less fretting about the accounts.

We continue with the plan to build a 10/11m meditation sala/dome or yurt to facilitate a space dedicated to the practice of meditation (and other activities) and not to share the meditation room / salon / as housing. It’s our living room when retreats are not on; where’s the sofa? Where’s the TV? Asked a good friend of mine.

We have a plan to develop a bigger vegetable garden, to work against food prices and supply organic vegetables to retreats and set up a veg-box scheme for the Sangha in Valencia. We have plans for more retreats including a Great Gathering of Triratna (Easter 2025) inviting all the Sanghas of the Peninsula, Islands and Lisbon, for a collective event to celebrate our community and culture as Iberian Buddhist practitioners in the 21st century.

Thank you for your attention and understanding

I also want to remind you, having a Retreat Centre here in Spain has been the dream of many of us for many years. The most important thing is that we carry this torch in our hearts.

We depend on the collaboration and effort of many people.


I want to thank everyone who has cooked, brought their groups, cleaned and has given love and affection to this beautiful and unique place. Specifically, I would like to thank Yashomani (the Treasurer), Sadhita and Amalamati for being members of the Council, Clara of Jerica for cleaning the house every week, Giacomo for helping me with repairs and maintenance that we have done. I want to say thank you to Ángel and his team for taking care of our land and solving some knotty problems with our beloved diesel engine. I want to thank Pedro and Carlos Luis and Padmashalin, Priyadasa and Isabel for cooking again and again when necessary.

I also want to say that Suryavana represents a lot of love and sacrifice from me and my family. I want to thank the collaboration and efforts of Jesu, my partner and our children, Rubén and Satya. (Wishing that they don’t come out traumatised from the experience)

Let’s go forward with our feet well planted on the ground, rooted, looking towards the Light.

A big hug to everyone and Happy New Year.

Suḍāka (and Suryavana Council

Desde las faldas de Sierra Espadan. Sword ⚔️ Mountain