Hello. My name is David Brazier. "David" means beloved, especially beloved of God. "Brazier" my family name, means one who works with fire. I am also known by my Buddhist name, Dharmavidya, which means "seer of truth". It is all quite a lot to live up to, but also inspiring. Our names do tend to shape our lives.

La Ville au Roi means "the town of the king". The word "ville" comes from the Roman "villa" meaning the big house of an important person. The actual house here, however, is a very modest and humble affair. I do not know the specific origin of this old French name in this instance but it suggests that this site has been occupied at least since medieval times and perhaps much earlier. One does come across traces of long fallen down habitations here and there. The present main house is simply a peasant cottage, not grand at all, so we have come down in the world. These days it is a spot well off the beaten track, secluded and tranquil.

It serves as my hermitage where I spend approximately half of the year in semi-retreat, often alone, but open to occasional visitors intrepid enough to make the journey and stay in the rather primitive conditions, with thick stone walls and no central heating. Here, I write books, practise my religion, tend the garden, work in the forest and, from time to time, have interesting encounters with visitors.

I am known as a Buddhist and especially for my understanding of Buddhist psychology, about which I have written in Zen Therapy and other works. As a result I get invited to teach in various parts of the world and so spend about half of the year travelling. The form of Buddhism which I personally practise is in the tradition of devotion to Amitabha, but Buddhist psychology is not limited to one school. In any case, I am an avid student and reader and find the diverse spiritual traditions of the world a treasure house. Recently I have written a book that is a detailed analysis of the text Genjo Koan, one of the most important writings of Zen Master Dogen and I am currently working on a commentary upon the Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching.

As a child, I was brought up in Cyprus, which is the island of the goddess Aphrodite. I added the name Eleusis to the name of this place in honour of the Greek goddesses. Eleusis in Greece was actually a temple to the mysteries of the goddess Demeter. De-meter means "earth mother". You may recall that when Buddha was enlightened he touched the earth to call the Earth Mother as witness.

I am still a devotee of the goddesses and have dedicated the land to them. Different parts are dedicated to different goddesses corresponding to their character. The wildest to Artemis. The most secret to Aphrodite. The forest of owls to Athena-Minerva and so on. Thus it is a spiritual experience simply to walk this land.

My mother was named after another Greek goddess, Irene, the goddess of peace. When she died in 2004 I was inspired to write a book Who Loves Dies Well. My mother had a religious vision that was not tied closely to any one tradition. She could be at home in any temple so long as it did not involve cruel practices. Humans have innumerable ways of reaching beyond the limits of our fragile existence toward what is sublime and we have a huge number of languages in which to express those ways and their many meanings.

My mother was a lover of gardens. She liked to create spaces that were sacred in a certain way, that were conducive to inner and outer peace, that embodied beauty and inspired respect, appreciation, gratitude and love. I like to celebrate her memory by trying to create such spaces here. 

There is an important connection between spirituality and art. Spirituality is not just about relating to the absolute, it is also about the expression of our deeper archetypal quest in a variety of ways. An artist (whatever the art) in the grip of the muse is experiencing a spiritual rapture.

What we have here are old fashioned buildings and land that is mostly wooded. I gradually make some small improvements to the facilities, but it remains rustic. Life here involves practical work on buildings as well as garden cultivation and woodland tasks. Eleusis is in the in the Berry region, which is an unsploilt region of rolling country, small lakes and forests. The villages in the area mostly go back to medieval times and there are many eleventh century churches and other buildings.  Troncais forest lies to the south and the pretty village of Apremont to the East. The cathedral cities of Bourges and Nevers are within an hour's drive.

La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) is set in 30 acres of beautiful French countryside. It is in the heart of France in an area which you have probably never heard of because it is off the main tourist routes. Beautiful and undiscovered, a rather magical place, a little paradise where one can enquire into the meaning of nature.

The address is Eleusis, La Ville au Roi, 18210 Bessais le Fromental, Cher, France. If you prefer to use your mobile you can text me on 00447786328916.

Last updated by David Brazier Mar 10.

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