Last weekend, a group of 9 indigenous people from the Mbya people, from the Guarani village of Retomada, in Maquiné, visited the Jetavana Bodhisattva Buddhist Studies Center (CEBB), in São Francisco de Paula. The group, accompanied by some practitioners from CEBB, walked through the area, visiting waterfalls, a lookout for the canyons and trails in the middle of the forest full of araucarias. It is the second time the village travels to São Francisco de Paula.
Chief André Benites says that the connection with Lama Padma Samten and the CEBB started with the nation's Retomada (retake of its Guarani ancestral territory, resumption of freedom to continue the culture) in Maquiné. “Our role of the Guarani nation, our journey to fulfill, we call Mbya Jeguata. Through wisdom and knowledge, we have an obligation to take care of nature. In our Jeguata we have to walk and we didn't have more space to do that, we couldn't practice our Jeguata. Through the CEBB Connection, we talked with the Lama that we needed to practice Jeguata and the Lama, with his wisdom and culture, supported us, embraced our understanding, our role. So, from there, Lama gave us the opportunity to get to know Jetavana and think about how we could take advantage of the place”, explains André.
The indigenous walk, according to André, corresponds to the practice of Guarani life: “we were created to have a connection with the forest, with nature. We stay in one place and naturally move to another space, connecting at different points, in different spaces. Today, we no longer have that freedom and cannot practice our culture, our Mbya Jeguata. We cannot choose where to live in summer, winter, autumn, looking for spaces that have food and materials from which we live and sustain ourselves. In Jetavana, there are materials like bamboo, which do not exist where our village is now. That's why it's important to have a space where we can do this practice”, evaluates the cacique.
The tribe's report, upon returning from the visit, was of a strong connection. “We came back stronger with the energy of nature. Nature appreciates our presence there. We are hopeful that we can go back there, take the children, have a more frequent presence, that's what's in our hearts and in our minds. We always had the hope that this could happen, reach the bush, get a bush to walk, connect, hunt, practice our wisdom. We are good at waiting, at believing and we will always wait for a stronger connection to happen to make our Mbya Jeguata Guarani”, concludes André.
CEBB Jetavana is a retreat center located in the municipality of São Francisco de Paula-RS, 130km from Porto Alegre, and has 182 hectares of very preserved area. It is a wild area, very isolated, silent, a sanctuary for wild animals such as deer, cougars, ocelots and many birds. There are many pine trees and a forest with beautiful clearings and a magnificent view of the Josafaz Canyon, the largest in the country in extension, with 16km.
In the words of Lama Samten, "It is a place where the sky and the environment directly convey Buddha-nature, as it did for many yogis of the past."
On site there is a house to host those in closed retreats. Soon, a new facility for long retreats will be built.