Located on the edge of the village of Charnay (pictures of the Golden stones), Dharma.house departs from the regional standards, and is sheltered in spite of the locals having nicknamed it “the aquarium.”
Set on a hillside, the view remains open to the valley, and is oriented south-west for watching beautiful sunsets.
The hedge protects the privacy of the retreatants, without blocking the light or spoiling the view.
These first two photographs alone explain a particular perspective on the logo:
Many birds pass nearby or even benefit from the garden; a few sharp-eyed predators can be seen hovering and monitoring the terrain below.
The glass facade allows all rooms to benefit from the view. The meditation taught at Dharma.house is oriented toward studying (ourselves, how our mind works, what keeps us from progressing or from letting go of the past) more than relaxing… but, as calm is a natural “side effect” of meditation, brightness helps not to fall asleep: the main room, even when the louvres are down during summer, offers a beautiful working space, efficient in spite of its difference from the Zen caricatures of the practitioner facing a uniform wall.
The art exhibited at Dharma.house fulfils a classic function of a reminder (as to the potential of Awakening which we all share) and not of objects of veneration. Moreover, even if the Buddhist art is very present, other sources (religious —e.g. Hindu— or not) are also used.
The Buddhist art not only includes various statues of buddhas —of different sizes and from Japanese, Tibetan, Burmese, Balinese or Indian origins— but also, for example, a Japanese calligraphy of Bodhidharma (discovered at the Joko-ji temple in Aichi prefecture) or a Tibetan thangka representing Sītā Tārā.
Some pieces less commonly seen in the West, such as a statue of Uṣṇīṣavijayā (one of the three longevity Buddhas, associated with the Uṣṇīṣa vijaya dhāraṇī sūtra and its dhāraṇī/mantra), or a tantric thangka representing Vajrayoginī are also visible when appropriate.
The library is in the main room (accessible during retreats, but only on request).
There is no doubt that the idea of flipping through these books might be seductive, but one of the goals at Dharma.house is to free ourselves from the chains by which desires control us, skew our answers, deprive us of our freedom, and cause jealousy, lack and fear of losing… It is therefore an exercise in its own right, to observe envy without letting it decide our next act.