Kiranada's Solitary Retreat



“In this sacred ground of solitary practice, I, Milarepa, keep my practice”
— Jetsun Milarepa

After researching places that could accommodate a solitary retreat in Spain, Scotland, the UK, Newfoundland, VT, MA, CO, Costa Rica, and Malaysia I decided that the Triratna Community Buddhist Retreat Centre at Sudarshanaloka, Coromandel Area, on the North Island of New Zealand would be best. It could not have been further from my New England home.

I stayed in a little 10’ x 10’ hut called Abhaya (Fearless). It had a two burner stove, small single bed, shrine area, a small desk and an outside toilet. There was running (cold) water from a rainwater tank and a solar shower outside. There was no refrigerator since the hut survives on 12 voltages of solar electricity. I looked forward to the wonderful deck for walking meditation and the sitting area for lunchtime reflection. A wonderful aspect of staying at Sudarshanaloka is the glorious 30’ stupa to Dhardo Rimpoche about 15 minutes from my small hut. 

Abhaya deck

In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from NH, so my July birthday came in winter and New Year’s Day was in hot summer. Although I spent a week in New Zealand during 1992 lecturing on Kimono History, the land, animals and birds would all be new to me, as well as the Southern sky. After a year, they have become friends. That same Full Moon shines on me and you, wherever we are in this world.

‎About the Land

“Ninety minutes from Auckland, the Coromandel is home to the firth of Thames on the western side and the Pacific Ocean on the eastern coastline, while the Coromandel forest park and mountain range divide the two sides. It is not uncommon to have two different weather patterns from the west to east and north to south. Temperatures reach between 24 – 31°C (75 – 87F) in the summer months and from 10 – 14°C (50 – 57F)  in the middle of winter.” I have heard that there can be chilly frost on winter mornings and an average of 8 – 15 days of rain in some months.

“The Coromandel is renowned for its beauty, an outdoor haven where rugged terrain is contrasted by an idyllic coastline. The Coromandel is a sparsely populated region with a mountainous landscape. Much of the region is protected as part of the conservation estate. In the 1900’s it was home to kauri tree loggers, gum diggers and gold miners.”

Kiranada Sterling Benjamin | Retreat Home | What | Where | Why | How