Situated amidst rolling hills on a 35-acre plot of land in Bentong, Malaysia, Kechara Forest Retreat is a holistic retreat centre which offers spiritual seekers an opportunity to develop a perfect balance of total wellness – body, mind and spirit – through spiritual retreats, learning and conscious living, all within a natural forest enclave.
Founded by His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche in 2012, Kechara Forest Retreat is a part of the larger Kechara Buddhist organisation, a progressive spiritual group that seeks to create a conscious community that comes together in service of others.
Kechara began with a small handful of spiritual practitioners who were motivated solely by the wish to make a difference and bring a new message of peace to their community. Today, Kechara is the largest Tibetan Buddhist organisation in Malaysia and offers a variety of programmes to meet the varying needs, interests and aptitudes of modern spiritual seekers.
Apart from traditional Buddhist activities such as Dharma teachings, weekly pujas (prayer sessions) and comprehensive education programmes held at Kechara House, the main temple, Kechara also offers practitioners the opportunity to experience spirituality in action via its soup kitchen and animal welfare projects, Himalayan arts, publishing and film production houses and vegetarian restaurants.
The establishment of Kechara Forest Retreat is a step closer to fulfilling Tsem Rinpoche’s wish to create an international Buddhist institution of learning in the southeast Asian region.
Since I was a young child, I wanted to create a place where people come together to live as one with nature, one with the earth. A place for healing, detoxification, contemplation, relaxation, and retreat. An international centre for meditation courses not based on religion but tapping into ourselves and our potential. A place for eco living modelled on sustainability and growth. This project is Kechara Forest Retreat and it will be a space to inspire the world to do the same in their own communities. H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, retreat.kechara.com
The retreat centre features contemporary architecture in harmony with nature and blends traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture with modern approaches. Visitors to Kechara Forest Retreat will enjoy extensive facilities, comfortable accommodation, and functional working environments, including:
An 11,000 sq. ft. meditation and teaching hall which is home to the largest (24-feet) Dorje Shugden statue in the world, as well as a 13-foot indoor statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism and an 8-foot outdoor statue of Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug lineage.
A well-stocked souvenir shop is available for visitors to invite Dharma items, Tibetan inspired trinkets or a keepsake of their visit.
A 15-foot traditional Vajrayogini stupa filled with sacred Vajrayogini images, scriptures, mantras and holy items, constructed by Himalayan artisans and consecrated by senior Tibetan lamas from Gaden Monastery. The stupa symbolises the fully enlightened mind and the path to Enlightenment, and is surrounded by a walking and circumambulation path.
A majestic stone statue of Four-Armed Manjushri sits on a natural hilltop that looks over the entire valley. Visitors can make offerings to the Buddha of Wisdom and enjoy the spectacular views.
A meditation path set amidst shady trees along the natural terrain of the forest, which provides a conducive and safe environment for the practice of walking meditation, and for meditators to make prayers and offerings to the Goddess Tara.
Located next to the main entrance, the Gyenze Chapel is open to the public 24 hours a day. Various offering items are available, and complimentary educational and prayer materials are provided for visitors to invite home. Educational videos play continuously in the chapel, explaining Dorje Shugden’s history, practice and iconography.
Tsem Rinpoche’s Cabin
The original cabin where Tsem Rinpoche lived and worked during the initial stages of Kechara Forest Retreat’s development. It is a repository of spiritual energy and a powerful place of pilgrimage as it is here that Rinpoche did his daily practices, rituals and pujas to consecrate and bless the land.
Visitors can make aspirational prayers, meditations and circumambulations at this holy site and offer gold and jewels to the Tantric Buddha Vajrayogini. A self arising Bodhi tree grows a short distance away.
Open-plan container-style guest accommodation which offers a communal living experience aimed at fostering mindfulness, civic consciousness and an awareness of others and their needs. Facilities include a function lounge, private dining room, communal kitchen and dining areas, self service cafe, chill-out upper decks, art installations and fully equipped and air-conditioned cabins.
Fish Pond and Aviary
The waters of the Fish Pond are home to a multitude of rescued fish both big and small. The surrounding gardens, featuring a 9 ft. statue of Dream Manjushri, are a lush sanctuary for relaxation, meditation and contemplation.
A spacious, purpose-built walk-in aviary houses a large flock of rescued birds and a pair of tortoises who have been nursed back to full health. A smaller recovery aviary serves to rehabilitate newly rescued birds and those recuperating from illnesses.
Visitors are welcome by prior appointment to feed and learn how to care for the various species including cockatoos, African Greys, cockatiels and budgerigars, and enjoy watching their amusing antics.
Vegetable Garden and Herb Farm
One of the core pillars of conscious living at the Kechara Forest Retreat is to embrace and live in harmony with nature. Visitors and residents are invited to participate in green programmes held all year round, and to partake of the harvest from the vegetable farm and herb garden.
Kechara Forest Retreat hosts regular meditation courses, work-experience programmes, Buddhist festivals and Dharma talks conducted by the pastors and senior students of Kechara, serving the spiritual community which comprises of people from diverse backgrounds, varying age groups and different parts of the world.
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