• DHARMALOKA

    COMMUNITY OF GOOD FRIENDS

Our Core Values

Tradition in modern times

We follow a noble tradition that has lasted for over 2,500 years, but we adapt it to the needs and requirements of life in the 21st century, based on our own rich experience. Being a secular institution with minimal institutional structure we strive to put forth the core of Chan, rather than trying to preserve the cultural characteristics of the civilizations that created and developed it.

In our case, however, less external structure does not imply less commitment. Our approach to cultivating the mind is in-depth, responsible and knowledgeable, as it reflects the central practice around which everything we do revolves.

Clearly worded profound truths

Our purpose is not to mesmerize or fascinate; it is to clearly and directly refer to our own investigation into both our own, as well as the world’s nature. We hold that profound truths ask for simplicity and intelligibility in their transmission. Such a way of teaching mediates humanistic ideals that respect each individual and support his or her innate potential to find out about themselves.

Friendship instead of authority

Our community is based on spiritual friendship and mutual support. As Buddha once said, “Good friendship is the whole of the spiritual path.” He thus focused on the fact that a network of good influences is crucial in creating an environment where we can transcend both our social as well as our individual narrow-mindedness and build a world with more mutual understanding.

Humor

Although Buddhism starts out with the seemingly dark claim that life is equal to suffering, the social gatherings in our community are imbued with a lightness of being and gales of laughter.

What’s the secret? Not taking oneself too seriously is perhaps one of the most important insights that come to fruition when you are devoted to Chan practice.

Respect for all beings

A fundamental moral virtue in Buddhism is nonviolence (ahimsā), which extends to all sentient beings. It is a natural consequence of deep insight into the interconnectedness of all existence. We strive to embody it not only by choosing vegetarianism, but also by a lifestyle that minimally endangers other lifeforms on this planet of ours.

Teacher

Žarko Andričević

A pioneer and initiator of the systematic practice of Buddhism in our country, Žarko Andričević is the founder of the Dharmaloka Buddhist community and Chan Center. For four decades he has been opening paths and spaces dedicated to finding answers to fundamental existential questions through Buddhist wisdom and meditation. His teaching is easily accessible, yet profound.

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ASSISTING TEACHERS

Karmen Mihalinec

As a teenager, at the urging of her mother, she began practicing yoga, which was soon accompanied by Buddhism. Together with Žarko, she is the co-founder of the Buddhist Center, the head of the School for Zenyoga Teachers and the author of the book Zenyoga — developing mindfulness through movement. She steered the Chan Center’s construction project, where she now teaches and leads shorter retreats. She graduated in Indology and Philosophy. As she’s also our program organizer, when she’s not weeding the garden, you’ll find her answering all kinds of impossible questions. Sometimes she studies yogācara.

Ela Vukelja

Ela has been meditating and studying Buddhism for about 30 years. She is a Zenyoga teacher and a mentor at its teacher school. She leads a Chan meditation group in Pula and teaches during shorter retreats. Professionally, she is a social pedagogue with years of experience working with children and parents within the alternative care system. By contributing through teaching and sharing experiences, she seeks to help people cope with many of life’s challenges and difficulties.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR COMMUNITY

  • 2019

    Opening of the Chan Center Hartovski Vrh

    After almost four years of construction, we finally opened our new home in May — the Chan Center Hartovski Vrh, a modern residential and meditation center, the first of its kind in our country. It comprises five buildings that house a multi-purpose training hall, a dining room with a kitchen, a house for residents and visiting teachers, as well as dormitories.

  • 2015

    Start of construction

    The first construction phase of our new Center began in August, when heavy machinery came out on our meadow. Before it started, we organized numerous volunteer actions to clean the field. Once, we even tried holding a meditation retreat under tents, but the storm of the year blew us away from the mountain 🙂

    Before and during construction, we conducted international and domestic donation actions — every single one of Žarko’s trips abroad to lead Chan retreats was an opportunity to introduce his students to our project and invite them to support it. Hundreds did so. Along with perseverance, generosity is the principal virtue that enabled the creation of this place.

    2015

  • 2013

    EBU Council in Zagreb

    We hosted a three-day meeting of the Council of the European Buddhist Union and were with guests at a reception with the Croatian President.

  • 2007

    Entering the world stage

    In addition to regularly participating in the work of the European Buddhist Union, we are scaling our international activities to a global level. Since 2007, our delegation has been regularly participating in the international celebration of the UN Day of Vesak in Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, as well as the World Buddhist Summit, which takes place in Japan once every three years.

    2007

  • 2005

    A plot of land for the new center

    After a seemingly endless quest, we managed to find a place for our future residential and retreat center; a total of 26,000 m2 of beautiful rolling meadows surrounded by forest in the Žumberak mountains.

  • 2004

    Entry in the Register of Religious Communities

    After having cooperated for many a year in drafting the law on the legal status of religious communities, we finally received a decision regarding registration in 2004. Unfortunately, this has not yet included the exercise of the same rights enjoyed by larger communities.

    2004

  • 2002

    The Dalai Lama in Croatia

    The biggest event related to Buddhism in Croatia was the visit of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama to Split and Zagreb. We helped organize the arrival and Karmen was his official interpreter.

  • 2001

    Our teacher Žarko Andričević becomes Shifu Sheng Yen’s Dharma heir

    In 2001, our teacher Žarko Andričević received a rare recognition. He became Shifu Sheng Yen’s Dharma heir and thereby established himself as an international Chan Master. He is a regular guest teacher at the Dharma Drum Meditation Center in the United States and Taiwan. Žarko leads meditation retreats in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia. He was vice-president of the European Buddhist Union for several years and he is a full member of the Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers.

    2001

  • 1998 onward

    Growth period

    This is a mature and fruitful period in the work of our community. Since the founding of the Buddhist Center, in its 22 years of operation, we have organized 66 Chan meditation courses in four countries (at our Center, in Pula, Split, Celje, Šibenik, Belgrade, Berlin and Cape Cod), 26 lecture cycles, 62 one-day retreats, 38 three-day retreats, 3 five-day retreats, 32 seven-day retreats or a total of 416 days of meditation retreats, as well as 22 seminars in Krk and 14 seminars in Orebić, 3 seminars in Fužine and 2 seminars in Jelsa — a total of 275 seminar days!

    We have launched and completed the education of six generations of Zenyoga Teacher School, an internationally certified program. We have published four books: Zen teaching of instantaneous awakening in collaboration with Profil, whereas Subtle Wisdom, Zenyoga — developing mindfulness through movement and Hoofprint of the Ox were published by Dharmaloka. We have started meditation groups in Pula, Šibenik, Split, Celje, Berlin and Cape Cod, USA. Members of our community participated in a series of meditation retreats in Europe, the United States, and Taiwan, held by Shifu Sheng Yen. Twelve members have taken the vows of the Bodhisattva, to which they dedicate their noblest aspirations to the welfare of other beings.

  • 1998

    Foundation of the Buddhist Center in Zagreb

    After our teachers’ meeting with Shifu Sheng Yen and his visit to Zagreb, we decided to follow the Chinese tradition of Chan or Zen practice. Even though in the past we had shown a penchant for the Sino-Japanese Mahayana tradition as a group, our practice of Buddhism up to that point had been largely general in nature. Our encounter with the living tradition and with one of today’s most important teachers of Buddhism, Shifu Sheng Yen, breathed new life into our community. Thus, we founded the Buddhist Center in the center of Zagreb and became more accessible to all who wanted to explore the ancient teachings of the Buddha and begin to follow the methods of Chan or Zen.

    1998

  • 1997.

    Shifu Sheng Yen in Zagreb

    In mid-May Shifu Sheng Yen visited Zagreb for the first, and only time. He held a public lecture titled Chan Path to Englightenment and a three-day Chan meditation retreat. His whole visit lasted only five days, but its significance still resonates until today. It firmly set our Community on course of systematic and well grounded practice of cultivation of mind. Shifu was very inspired – he taught a very complete account of the silent illumination practice – up until today it remains the main method od Chan practiced within our group.

  • 1993

    Membership in the European Buddhist Union

    We reached a new level of organizational order and were accepted as members at the meeting of the European Buddhist Union in 1993. In the following years, we brought, or helped bring, a number of relevant Buddhist teachers to our country. Despite a decades-long delay, compared to the West, our public finally had the opportunity to meet the great teachers of Buddhism and hear their thoughts on the nature of human life. The beginning of the new millennium was a fertile period for Buddhism in Croatia, as several other associations and groups emerged to contribute to the diversity of the Buddhist scene in our country.

    1993

  • 1992

    We founded a Center in Markuševac

    The group’s inspiration, resolution and dedication led to the founding of the first Buddhist Center in Croatia in the early 1990s. That Center in Markuševac served as our home for over five years. Although remote from the city and unsuitable for daily visits, it had a library and a meditation room which allowed us to conduct regular study programs and extended meditation sessions.

  • 1985

    The first study and meditation group

    In more unfavorable than favorable conditions, in the mid-1980s, one of the early enthusiasts, Žarko Andričević, started the first study and meditation group whose members systematically studied original Buddhist texts and practiced meditation. These were the foundations of our community as it is today, and members of that early study group still form part of its core.

    1985

  • 70ties and early 80ties

    Kempo!

    Kempo, a martial art similar to karate, as a form of encountering oneself and resolving internal conflicts, is the core practice of the group. It would soon be accompanied by yoga, which, at the time, we called Chinese yoga:)

  • 1977

    Early beginnings

    The beginnings of our Buddhist community can be traced far back to 1977, when a small group of yoga and martial arts devotees decided to take refuge in the Three Jewels and chose the Buddhist path as their life path. The photo doesn’t show the ceremony, but it shows our community socializing during these times 🙂

    1977

ABOUT THE CHAN CENTER

The Chan Center Hartovski Vrh is a meditation and residential center of the Buddhist community Dharmaloka. On the one hand, the Center is a physical place. Carefully designed and inspiring. On the other hand, the Center stands for our programs, which, in the broadest possible sense, can be described as the cultivation of the mind. They cover the first steps on the path of meditation progress, guidance and help in all its later stages. These programs are guided by our profound knowledge on the nature of the mind, acquired by many generations of the Chan tradition, as well as our abundant experience in applying this knowledge in today’s world. We offer all those who are interested a valuable opportunity to learn how to gain deeper insight into themselves and find the roots of sustainable peace and satisfaction within.

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