If you have other questions, you can always contact us and we'll do our best to provide clear answers.
During group retreats as well as individual retreats, Dharma.house operates as “chambres d'hôtes”. Note that group retreats imply staying in shared rooms (2 or 4 people), a situation akin to temporary collective housing.
During retreats, breakfast, lunch and dinner are included for whoever is staying at the house and attending teachings, as a “table d'hôte”. This has a major legal implication: there's only one menu of the day, served on the familial table. It is illegal for us to provide choices; however, should you let us know (preferably before coming) of any allergy or intolerance, we'll do our best to cook accordingly.
Booking is compulsory, as Dharma.house is not a restaurant or a hotel. We do not maintain a stock of supplies but we provide home-made food with fresh ingredients; we minimise waste by buying only the minimum necessary to run each retreat. If you come unannounced, we won't be able to provide the service to the standards we aim for, so we will not accept you.
Our legal structure prevents us from offering options: there's only the menu of the day. However, should you let us know (preferably before coming) of any allergy or intolerance, we'll do our best to cook accordingly.
Please note that Dharma.house supports mindfulness of origin, dukkha, waste and environmental impact in relation to food, but does not embrace veganism or even vegetarianism. The Buddha resolutely supported accepting what is given with gratitude, equanimity (i.e. without cherry-picking) and humility (i.e. without a receiver forcing one's own ethical preferences onto a giver). We're well aware that meat is not needed in large quantities by omnivores, so there's no need to fear excess.
You do not need to bring snacks!
A 2-days, 9-to-5, “Search Inside Yourself” training in Milan in 2016 was priced from €695 (early birds) to €995 (general rate)… plus 22% VAT, plus booking fees. Teachings and a “healthy lunch” are included, no accomodation. Such high prices explicitly rely on the fallacy that quality is expensive, and on other classical marketing tricks (like generating a sense of belonging among a wealthy and successful elite). This is the archetype of a consumerist distortion.
“Gaia house” usually charges £50 per day plus admin fee: most week-ends are thus at £122, most weeks at £385. The “insight meditation society” usually charges $100 per day at the retreat centre. Moreover, one-hour work-as-practice (incl. cleaning bathrooms and other common areas, gardening, washing dishes, peeling vegetables…) is requested daily from students to reduce the costs; these ‘voluntary’ periods are de facto compulsory. The low prices of the retreats cover the running costs for housing and meals, as well as transportation for the teacher, but do not include a teaching fee. To enable them to continue their mission, teachers thus rely on dāna, i.e. on the generosity of the students; participants are actively encouraged to ponder the value of several hours of expertise and teachings, and their own means to help perpetuate a living tradition.
Dharma.house strives to charge €50 only per day, including meals, for most retreats, and therefore also relies on dāna to continue offering the Dharma to the widest possible audience… even as it offers better conditions, notably much better beds, than most other retreat facilities. Some help in running the house for the benefit of all, notably during the longer retreats, will be greatly appreciated, but is kept on an actual ‘voluntary’ basis (unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the retreat description).
Traditionally the Dharma is offered freely, i.e. without arbitrary pre-condition or fixed price tag. The low price attached to a retreat covers the running costs for housing and food, and one may attend teachings without staying at the house.
Manifestations of generosity by teachers are found in offering the Dharma to others, in providing support and pastoral care, in leading by example and in unlocking potential. It is an ancient form of “paying forward”, i.e. personally contributing to make the world a better place without endlessly waiting for hypothetical ‘others’ to make the first step.
A virtuous circle of mutual support is necessary for teachings to be kept accessible. Buddhism is a living tradition. Early Buddhist wanderers lived where lay people would offer alms. They shared the meal of the poorest, so there's no set minimum for support; however, participation could not be null if someone was serious about inviting wisdom into their life. There is no point in asking wise men to spend their time meditating, studying and answering queries, so they can share wisdom with others, while also asking them to spend their days working on other tasks to earn a living: time is not magically stretchable.
Should you wish to cultivate an abundant and generous way of life, to support a teacher or to “pay forward” to help others hear the Dharma, you can offer dāna (gift, alms) in person or online.
We accept payments, and donations/dāna, in €, on site —in cash, by (French) check, or by card (Apple pay, Visa, Mastercard, American Express),— or online and upfront via Paypal.
The activity is of course legally declared, and subject to taxes and social contributions, including for the dāna part (which is without predetermined amount, and might be seen as a gift, but remains associated to a service provided —even when it benefits others). An itemized bill will be available on request, immediately.
Should you so desire, e.g. to calm down and unwind from an hectic schedule prior to the retreat, or to take the time to consolidate on site what was learnt, it is possible to arrive days early or leave days late, thanks to the “chambres d'hôtes” setup.
Contact us, and we'll see how to best meet your needs.
Don't forget to bring any medicine you need!
Dharma.house provides bedding and towels. Please bring your own toileteries, preferably unscented (there's a small ‘épicerie’ shop in the village, if needed, but the offer is limited).
The house is pretty warm (by sunlight!) and extra blankets are available if needed, so you do not need to plan for warm clothes. Loose and/or stretchy clothing, so you can sit in meditation posture, is recommended. Flashy fashion might prove an unhelpful distraction, to yourself and others. Please bring slippers or socks to wear in the house. If you plan for walks outside, then season-appropriate clothing, or sun cream, is highly recommended (weather).
A range of meditation cushions filled with buckwheat hulls (round 16cm/6.3″ high, round 20cm/7.9″ high, and moon-crescent 15cm/6″ high), flat mats, and meditation stools are available. Hansels and cork quarter rounds are available for adjustments. However, if you're used to a specific cushion or bench, you're welcome to bring it along.
You do not need to bring snacks!
Unless explicitly stated, all retreat participants are requested to train in accordance to the five precepts (pañca-sikkhāpada) during their stay:
Commonly, any intentional sexual activity is considered misconduct in the context of a retreat (called thus because it's a ‘retreat’ from ordinary reactivity). Smoking is forbidden, as is helping yourself in the kitchen without letting us know.
In training according to such rules, one offers to others the freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. It also preserves the resources and the ‘spirit’ of the house.
Any exemption from these precepts will necessarily be mentioned in the relevant retreat description; in such a case, either the bodhisattva precepts (from the Brahmajāla bodhisattva śīla sūtra) or the esoteric samaya precepts (from the Mahāvairocana tantra) are likely to be requested instead.
Silent retreats are indicated as such in their descriptions. Most retreats include at least some (extended) periods of meditative silence; some retreats are entirely silent.
Such a quieting of the body and speech is conducive to greater awareness and understanding of the mind, and constitutes an integral part of the Buddhist training. It also contributes to the sense of safety and spiritual refuge of other participants.
Should you need to discuss something during silent periods, please discreetly signal this to the teacher, and an opportunity to do so will be created accordingly.
Reading, writing, using telecommunication devices, are generally considered ‘speech’ and you'll be requested to refrain from them during the periods of silence. In general, it is acceptable to take notes during Dharma talks, as long as you can keep paying attention to what is being said (it's usually better to understand on the spot than to plan to understand later).
It should be noted that mobile reception is relatively unreliable at the house for many operators, so should you need to be contactable during your stay (e.g. for emergencies), we strongly advise you to point people to the contact page before you leave.