About us

mjesto posvećeno njegovanju uma

A place dedicated to the cultivation of mind

The Chan Retreat Center Hartovski Vrh is a place dedicated to the cultivation of the mind; a meditation and residential center of the Dharmaloka Buddhist community. Since its opening in 2019, it has been the ground of all our activities. Located in the uplifting surroundings of the Nature Park Žumberak, the Center offers instruction and support in adopting and practicing the all-encompassing path of inner renewal and the realization of our true nature. It is the home of our teacher, Chan master Žarko Andričević.

Center is an educational institution that offers teachings and practice of understanding, analyzing and transforming one’s own emotional and experiential heartland. In other words: how to understand our own mind and its experiences. Furthermore, how to purify it, develop mindfulness and calm, and inspire and cultivate beneficial emotional states such as friendship, compassion and joy. Such knowledge and skills are rare, jet immensely needed in our complex times. 

In a wider context, beyond the Chan programs themselves, the Center embodies the principles of a responsible relating in the society we live in and towards the nature that surrounds us. It is a platform for cooperation and dialogue with a wide scope of organisations in educational, civic, artistic and religious fields – local and international alike. The way of life in the Center and the construction and technical solutions of its buildings express the application of sustainable energy practices and the awareness of the ecological aspects of the habitation on our planet.

What’s behind the name?

“Hartovski Vrh” is the old name of the Center’s location — recorded during the earliest cadastral survey carried out in this region in the 19th century. We have decided to adopt it in our name because its interesting etymology relates to the nature of our Center.

Hartje is derived from the ancient Greek χάρτης, or charta in Latin. From its several meanings, two are important to us — “thin matter made of vegetative fibers”, i.e. a sheet of paper, a map. Paper is a Chinese invention — therefore, our name subtly conveys a link to the tradition we inherit. In terms of phraseology, “turning a new leaf or a page” means starting over, finding new solutions. Walking the path of the cultivation of the mind resembles turning a new page in life; a change in the way we think and act. And last, but not least: the Buddha’s teaching is often compared to a map that allows us to navigate the landscape of our spiritual journey. But a map is not a destination — running your finger across it is not the same as truly traveling. As Chan teachers would say: we point and ensure that you do not get lost — but it is up to you to start, to explore and to figure it out for yourself.

Planning and design

Careful planning, coupled with a realistic assessment of our needs and a wish to imbue the design of the Center with the simplicity and clean lines that characterise Chan have spawned a project consisting of five buildings. The complex functions as a contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional mountain hamlet. The central building houses the Chan hall and adjoining spaces. One of the buildings houses a dining room / living room area with a kitchen. Another consists of rooms for resident and visiting teachers. Two identical houses are dormitories. Each facility, however, has multipurpose potential. A Chan room can also be a gym. The dining room can serve as a classroom, and the occasional dormitories can become accommodation for longer stays. The applied technologies, design and construction contribute to the buildings’ high energy efficiency with a minimum of adverse environmental impact. The last task on our list includes the installation of a photovoltaic power plant, which will ensure complete energetic self-sufficiency.

The Center’s project is recognised as a valuable example of contemporary architecture. In the year 2020 it was among four finalists for the annual award of the Croatian Chamber of Architects and was presented in the magazine Oris. In 2021, it was nominated for the EU’s Contemporary Architecture — Mies van der Rohe Award.

Origins and continuation

From the very beginning, we had one dream  — our own home with proper conditions for the practice of meditation in stillness and motion. A residential center dedicated to the cultivation of inner and outer peace and understanding, and to the education in the embodied skills of nurtured presence. Guided by this vision, we started working on our dream many years ago, with no certain outcome. We embarked on a lengthy quest for the right place. We planned the project for a long time. And then we built it. It took a while, but we made it.

In the year 2019 we have inaugurated the place we dreamed of. In the most straightforward way, we can say it was all made possible by two virtues — perseverance and generosity. The perseverance of a group of people who, against all the odds, continued and became a community along the way. The unparalleled generosity spawned the Center we now call home, primarily funded by donations of the international students, our teacher, and hours and hours of volunteer work by the members of our community. Perseverance and generosity both uplifted and sustained us. 

The pricing policy for our programs is governed by accessibility, and not driven by profit. We give our best to not let finances prevent participation in our activities. All programs, except for the first meditation course, can be bartered, with reduced tuition fees available for some. In order to continue this way, we rely on memberships, donations and volunteering. We believe this to be the right model — participants in our programs are not clients, but students and companions. This emphasizes their deeper value and ensures that the Center upholds and nurtures these values.