It is with much joy that I share this update. After one and a half years of being in the suspension of all retreats - the COVID cocoon - the Temple of the Way of Light reopened at the end of August 2021.
As we had sensed from the beginning of the pandemic, our temporary closure presented an extraordinary opportunity to restructure, reimagine, and rebirth the Temple. After 13 years of non-stop work in the Amazon, the pandemic enabled us to completely stop, take a big step back, and listen deeply. Having learned through the guidance of the plant spirits over the years, any challenge we face is a gift in disguise. We quickly realized that our hibernation was an invitation to reinvent the Temple.
In the dark and difficult days at the beginning of the pandemic, we reconsidered everything; we examined every aspect of our operations, blindspots, struggles, resources, systems, programs, and infrastructure, starting with and returning to our “why.” Why do we do what we do? What is the source of our mission? When fulfilled, what would that look like in the world?
The Temple was created in January 2007 following a vision I was blessed to receive in an ayahuasca ceremony. My entire being was lit up like a Christmas tree at the moments of awakening I experienced in that ceremony and the vision I saw. I would build a center for healing in the Amazon to support people struggling in life with the same issues that I had faced for decades - chronic anxiety and depression. I knew, deep down, that with time, learning, hard work, and patience, the Temple would eventually set the highest standards, inspire many others, and support the emergence of a new paradigm of health, soul, and planet care. I had found my North Star in life and have never looked back since.
From March 2007, I committed everything to passionately developing the Temple. I had clear guidance from the original vision to build upon three cornerstones; respecting tradition, caring deeply about every guest and member of staff, and giving back to the people of the Amazon. The seed of the Temple was sown in 2007 and we broke ground in 2008 when I met and fell instantly in love with Klara, my beloved wife. It was Klara who had the insight to work with female healers and her love, deep intuition, and profound kindness that really shifted the trajectory of everything in my life. The growth of the Temple since then could also not have happened without the hard work and passion of so many people who have joined our mission - some short term, and some long term and still with us to this day.
For 13 years, we rode an epic rollercoaster with many challenges that needed to be overcome and learned from. This journey, guided by the spirits of the plants, has provided us evidence that no matter what, crisis truly does precede transformation. As an organization, we’ve moved through many breakdowns, individually and collectively, which were always, eventually followed by breakthroughs. Over and over again we’ve practiced choosing and supporting each other to embody what we’ve learned from the plants along the way; to trust, surrender, and be patient. Embracing the ups and the downs, the ebb and flow of the ceremony of life.
The difficult moments were always where we learned the most. It became abundantly clear that the pruebas (tests) that we go through are essentially the way that the plants teach us, guiding us slowly into awakening by bringing more and more awareness to that which is not aligned, not conscious, nor of light or love. Over time, they teach us humility, why judgement is always a projection of our inner pain, and how all fear ultimately arises from traumas that have not yet been resolved - our own and inherited from our ancestors.
Skipping forwards 13 years later to Friday, March 13th, 2020, we closed the Temple due to the pandemic. I certainly didn’t see that coming, despite an increasing feeling that our global systems were about to crash. As I wrote in the blog post COVID and a Call for Awakening in April, 2020, it was clear that our suspension would mark the beginning of a process of metamorphosis of the Temple. It had been 13 years of growing and learning as a caterpillar to then enter the “darkness” of the cocoon, where we faced our fears, let go of the old, and reimagined something entirely new, to then step into a new paradigm of our work and mission in the Amazon and beyond.
I am thrilled to share that this has now become our experience.
Quickly realizing at the beginning of the pandemic that we needed support, we sought investors in order to move through the financial impacts of closing our doors. We have been extremely fortunate to have been supported by Christian af Jochnick, Dr. Bronners, Riverstyx Foundation, Evolve Foundation, and two individual donors who have ensured that we have had the financial means to reinitiate our work.
From March of this year until the end of August, we carried out major reformations to our center and infrastructure. A primary intention was to upgrade the rustic facilities of the Temple to reach a level of quality and comfort that has become more and more in demand. We have also maintained our commitment to keeping our accommodations electricity, AC and WIFI-free, ensuring that our guests are best supported to unplug from the modern world and experience an immersion into the rhythms and energies of the Amazon Rainforest - connecting to the birthplace of ayahuasca.
We built a new house for our Shipibo team, a new dining room, and an indoor lounge space, repaired and rebuilt all guest tambos, now equipped with running water, bowl sinks, flushing toilets, and upgraded bed linens, mattresses, towels, and soft furnishings, built a beautiful small chill-out maloka on our lagoon for guests to relax in, installed a new waste system with three biodigesters to more efficiently manage our grey and black waste, and installed two new high-quality water filters for drinking water.
We also set our focus on and committed our energy to our beautiful land and grounds. We planted nearly 3,500 medical and ornamental plants and trees throughout our main center (about 7 hectares in the middle of our 222 hectares of rainforest land) and are redesigning existing and implementing new sustainable food production systems.
In addition, we’ve repurposed our second center (where we previously held our Deep Immersion Programs) into a permaculture center to be managed by our sister non-profit organization, the Chaikuni Institute. We’ve been incredibly blessed to have had some new amazing Permaculturists join the Chaikuni team, who are busy working with an expanded local permaculture staff and long term volunteers. We are holding permaculture courses for foreigners, local, and Indigenous people from the Amazon. This December, the Chaikuni team will hold a special Dialogo de Saberes (Dialogue with Wise Ones), where about 30 Indigenous leaders from across the Amazon will come to the Temple to share their vision on regenerative agriculture and agroforestry.
With wisdom and foresight, our team of Shipibo healers all carried out extensive master plant dietas during the pandemic, knowing that the crisis would catalyze a call to the Amazon for many people struggling through the challenges and longer term impacts of the global situation. They tell us that the plant spirits themselves have called for an elevation of the work and are teaching and engaging us in ways that we’ve not previously experienced. Since the healers have returned to the Temple we've all been blown away by the depth that they are reaching through their work, their level of commitment to our guests’ healing processes, and the strength and clarity of the love and healing energy that is emanating through them.
The first retreat that we held upon reopening was a Changemakers Ayahuasca Retreat for a group of 23 high-impact individuals; a wide range of medical professionals, visionaries, entrepreneurs, business leaders, psychedelic therapists, and environmental and Indigenous rights activists. Our shared experience on the retreat was quite literally out of this world; we experienced a whole new level of work from the healers, a sense of deep alignment amongst the team, and a clearer connection than ever before with the wisdom, intelligence, and power of the plant spirits who were directing everything.
We are beyond excited to be open again, with two, twelve-day retreats held each month, and are experiencing a tidal wave of interest in our work. More than ever before, we are called to serve and honored to support people to bring consciousness to the unconscious, liberate the pain of the past, and awaken to their highest potential. Over the years, our personal experience of clearing the past has shown us what is possible - the reclamation of our birthright and the remembrance of our true nature - to inspire us, guide our actions, and shine light, especially during these transformational times that we are all passing through.
We recognize that traditional Amazonian healing systems understand the source of the modern epidemic of depression, anxiety, and stress, and encourage a revolution in modern healthcare and in the way society addresses mental health and chronic disease.
We identify unresolved personal and trans-generational trauma to be the taproot of all disorder and turmoil, individually, collectively, and in all of its different manifestations, across the planet.
We acknowledge that the resolution of trauma leads to completion, wholeness, and connection, and is the most significant mechanism for individual, social, and global transformation.
We stand for a new paradigm in health-care, soul-care, and planet-care.
Our mission is People are Awakened!
With deep appreciation and respect for the plant spirits and wisdom keepers of the Amazon,