INTRODUCTION TO LA VILLE AU ROI (ELEUSIS)

Eleusis will be a place for retreat, for initiation, for mystery, and for transformation. It will be spiritual, artistic, therapeutic and fertile. It will honour ancient ways and practices and also be a place of enquiry, learning and investigation.

When my mother died in 2004 I was inspired to write the 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. Now that this property in France is coming into my possession, I would like to celebrate her memory by trying to create such spaces here. 

Like my mother, I do not think that the great sages or the gods really mind very much what names we use to address them. Yet I do think that it is important to do so. Eleusis will, therefore, be a place of devotion and, like its Greek forebear, of mysteries. We shall, no doubt, develop our own tradition and our own celebrations of the seasons of the year and the seasons of life. We shall have a pluralistic vision in which a variety of paths shall be honoured. Yet, what we are searching for here is not a compromise between existing paths so much as an experiment in spiritual truth in our own lifes. Each must walk the path and each will find.

There is also 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. Investigating the links between art and spirituality will, I hope, be an important feature of Eleusis. Performance, poetry, dance, painting and sculpture all have deep roots in the human spiritual tradition and we shall celebrate that.

I myself have benefitted primarily from studying with a series of the greatest living Buddhist teachers, but Buddhism is not, in my view, an exclusive creed. It is simply a way of pointing out universal spiritual truth that has also been indicated by Christian mysticism, by Sufism, and by the followers of many religions. However, it does seem to me that something was lost when the world turned to exclusive monotheistic ideas since these have a strong tendency toward intolerance. 

Ancient peoples had a more polydimensional approach. Whether we think of the many bodhisattvas of Buddhism, the many dieties of India or the pantheon of ancient Greece, we can see that there was a time when spirituality had many more dimensions and catered for the diversity of the human heart in a much greater range of ways.

Eleusis will be a space, a garden, where individuals and groups can enquire into the meaning of human spiritual nature, express its many dimensions and together create sacred community.

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 it is a good place to practice the secret ways, to unwind, to encounter nature, to heal, to find creativity, deepen practice, and recapture and be captured by a deeper spiritual awareness.

What we have here are old fashioned buildings and land that is mostly wooded. We gradually make some general improvements to the facilities, though the generally rustic atmosphere is preserved. Life here involves practical work on buildings as well as garden cultivation and woodland tasks.

This is a place for discovering silence in the woods and fields or for immersing oneself in community life or a mix of the two. You can visit as a volunteer, helping on the land, in the gardens or on the buildings. You can visit local places of interest as the area is full of medieval villages. You can attend retreats and events. You can have informal contact with other visiting practitioners and members of the Eleusis network.

A major feature of Eleusis is space. The land area is divided into sections dedicated to different goddesses. There are shrines in their honour on the land. there are also Buddhist shrines at boundary points and a main meditation hall dedicated to Amitabha Buddha. Maintaining these sacred spaces of religious peace and transformation is an important part of our vision.

There is some space for individual retreat and we intend to develop this aspect further. We shall have retreat huts in solitary locations where you will be able to do personal retreats with or without spiritual guidance

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.

These pictures convey something of its unspoilt beauty. Set in rural countryside which has not changed for centuries, it is a place to forget the hurly burly for a while, to relax and appreciate the timeless qualities of friendship and nature with us in this magical place.

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

Last updated by David Brazier Feb 19, 2016.

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