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This year at the WBC we have been unable to participate fully in BAM due to a lack of resources but I think it’s important that we as Buddhists think about the outward facing aspect of our practice, there can be a bit of a tendency to get really focussed inwards, either on ourselves or on the Wellington Sangha. We can forget that we are part of a much larger picture.
This year we have had a focus on Sangha and spiritual friendship and I have been prompted by some of the talks and discussions to reflect on just how lucky we are.
What fantastic conditions we have for practice, a beautiful warm, dry, well-lit Centre with friends to practice with. Getting to the Centre is a piece of cake, hop in the car and off we go, parking outside the door. Even the poorest of us is well-fed and reasonably comfortable at home, I’m so comfortable I find myself complaining about someone being a couple of minutes late or there being only one vegan café within walking distance.
Of course, that made me think of other places and other Sanghas, maybe not so fortunate.
I thought of Venezuela and the Merida Centre, of Eduardo one of our Sangha who is from Venezuela, of Aryavachin, a Venezuelan Order Member based in Nottingham who I connected with on retreat a couple of years ago, and talking to Don another of our Sangha, who travels to South America, I wondered if there was something we as a Sangha could do to support the Venezuelan Sangha.
Aryavacin and Vajranatha provided us with information, video clips and photos; and on 18 June we held an evening at the WBC to raise awareness of the situation in Venezuela and of the Merida Sangha. We also introduced the idea of fundraising to help support Acalamati (formerly Ricardo Rico) who was on his ordination retreat at the time. While Don and I spoke generally, Eduardo was able to give a personal perspective which was very moving. We ended the evening with a gratitude cloud, where people called out what they felt grateful for at the WBC, followed by a Metta Bhavana practice.
On Saturday 22 June we had a movie night with Venezuelan snacks and drinks provided by Eduardo and watched a wonderful movie “Tocar y Luchar”. About 25 people attended and a number of others watched the movie the following week. We raised $NZ 1,160 which we are in the process of transferring to Mexico where Acalamati will be until the end of the year.