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2019 was both a year of looking back - at our collective history, our shared values and vision - and looking forward at the kind of society we want to live in, the kind of world we want to co-create.
The year saw Triratna in that crucial space - following the death of our community’s founder, Urgyen Sangharakshita, on 30th October 2018. There was time to rejoice in our legacy, but also reflect on the more difficult aspects of our shared past and how to deal with them into the future.
We continue to be inspired by Sangharakshita’s vision. Fittingly enough, the final Young Buddhist ‘Big One’ - a gathering for young people aged 35 and under - was entitled A Blueprint for a New Society inspired by Sangharakshita’s 1976 lecture, A Blueprint for a New World. (In future these retreats will be for those 30 and under as the Young Buddhist project moves into its next phase.) Our community embraced that vision and has brought to bear on the realities of today’s world and responding to issues like housing, financial hardship, the climate crisis and gender diversity to name a few.
Despite the big changes to our community Dharma practice continued to flourish. 123 people were ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order - including ex-Ricardo Rico from Venezuela (now Achalamati) who received a special letter inviting him to the 2019 ordination course at Guhyaloka in Spain, and was helped on his journey there by the generosity of our sangha. Dharma practice continued to deepen too, and 2019 saw the development of the Order Practice survey by the Sikkha Project, which aims to get an overview of practice in our Order.
A significant moment in our history took place in September with the death of Ratnasuri at the age of 96 - Ratnasuri was instrumental in the founding of the Taraloka women’s retreat centre as well as being the first woman to publicly ordain other women. (2019 was the 30th anniversary of these first ordinations of women by women in the West, which was unique in the Buddhist world at the time.)
The global nature of our sangha is one of its strengths and 2019 saw many opportunities for this facet of the sangha jewel to shine: with the wonderful International Gathering in August, the International Council in September and the many Order Conventions taking place around different parts of Triratna throughout the year: Australia and New Zealand, Mainland Europe, UK and Ireland, the Americas, and India. But ultimately it is shared practice that keeps our sangha together - and all around our worldwide community festival days provided an opportunity for the international sangha to come together to deepen their practice in their own unique ways.
Finally, 2019 was a year for growth in the team that runs The Buddhist Centre Online! In spring, Jay Williams joined the tech team as a developer and later that year, Dassini came on board to help with the curation of Free Buddhist Audio and our friend Kamalavajra (formerly Will Elworthy) joined the Order! In terms of content 2019 also brought new developments such as our Magazine podcast; the redevelopment of thematic blogs like the vegan space; integration of more Dharma Stories and other new Triratna sites (check out the beautiful Preceptors’ College space) into The Buddhist Centre Online platform; and a better archive search across the site.
So as another year begins, take the time to look back over 2019 with us. You’ll find below some of our other highlights from the year:
We will be bringing you the best from across our community in 2020 – and developing all of our sites and services for mobile! If you’d like to help us spread the Dharma online – and keep our beautiful international community well connected – please support us with a donation today! Thank you - and a Happy New Year! 🙏
1. Seeing Bhante: A Personal Perspective: Exactly a year after Sangharakshita’s death, Jnanavaca gave a talk at Adhisthana to mark the anniversary which was live streamed on Facebook. Parami marked the same event at the Pan American Convention in Mexico with her own personal wishlist for Sangharakshita’s legacy for the next 20 years.
2. Gen-X 2019 Podcast: a conversation from the inter-Buddhist 2019 Generation-X Dharma Teachers conference in the US exploring how we learn from the past as sanghas and support each other well as the torch is passed from one generation to another.
3. Community - With Your Own Front Door: A podcast about the Suvana Co-housing project in Cambridge, UK, discussing co-housing as a response to the housing crisis, sustainability, affordability, Buddhist almhouses and more.
4. The Three Jewels Meet the Climate Crisis: One of the most commented upon articles on ‘Triratna News’ ever, this piece explores what the Dharma can bring to bear on the climate crisis. You can also watch a video of the Inter-religious climate pilgrimage in Norway, organised to encourage dialogue between different faiths and to explore their engagement and responses to the climate crisis.
5. Livestream of Ordinations in Mexico: Six women were ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order on the 21st October in Mexico City Buddhist Centre and on the very same day in India, thirty one men also entered the Order.
6. A Year of Silence: Kiranada, an Order member based in the US, gives an account of her year-long silent, solitary retreat in the New Zealand bush before she heads off on a three-year solitary.
7. Celebrating Internationality - Latin America: Venezuelan Order member Vanaraji speaks with Gleysa from Venezuela and Salvador from Mexico, on how the Dharma has changed their lives as young Buddhists in the Triratna community during the International Gathering in August.
8. Buddhist Voices: Abhayadana - Giving the Gift of Fearlessness to Women in India: A great conversation with the quietly brilliant Abhayadana about her Buddhist work and practice in India, recorded at the Triratna International Council, September 2019.
10. Working in an Online Team: A Buddhist Perspective: A podcast with some of our the team that runs The Buddhist Centre Online, recorded during an online practice week, talking about the Dharma and how they practice it in the context of their lives.
The music for our video was provided by the wonderful marimba orchestra of Great Vow Zen monastery, Portland, Oregon. 🙏 Hear more of their music on our Gen-X podcast!