Chairs' Letter – June 2022On Sun, 3 July, 2022 - 22:51
Dear Order Members + friends,
This month I seem to have emerged more fully from the era of Covid lockdowns. As well as my regular visits to South Wales, I’ve also been to London, Stratford-upon-Avon (wonderful to get to the theatre again: Henry VI and Richard III), and Leek in northern England (checking out a possible property for Tiratanaloka). I’ve also been kayaking down the River Taff to Cardiff basin, negotiating a couple of weirs and a lot of rocks (as the water level is so low at the moment), into an incoming tide and gusting headwind that was flattening the dinghies..
And now I’m writing from the Pure Land of Vajrasana, where the sun is shining and the occasional deer wanders past outside. I’m here to join the European Chairs’ Assembly for a couple of days, but missed the first couple of days of the gathering, which included talks from Bhadra on ‘The Embodied Heart: What it is to be a Chair under the influence of the lover archetype’, and from Prasadacarin, Bodhilila, and Viryanaga on ‘Chairing in the love mode, struggles in the power mode’. The meeting has now moved on into an update on the strategic priorities set two and a half years ago, and it’s clear that everyone is appreciating being able to meet again in person. I’ll make the most of being over in the east of the country to drop in on Padmasuri, before visiting my mum on the way back to Adhisthana.
This month I’ve also been involved in several online meetings relating to the International Council. The IC Steering Group, which is drawn from all three Strands and different geographical Areas, meets monthly to support Arthavadin in his role as Convenor. Nagapriya has also initiated a meeting of the College members involved in the IC, to explore the particular contribution we can make from a College perspective. And then there are the IC meetings themselves..
This month saw the last in a series of three online International Council meetings exploring Authority and Responsibility in our Spiritual Community; Commonality; and Principles for Social Engagement. This final meeting opened with a series of short video presentations, setting us up with information on different approaches and experience from around the world, and the discussion was generally very stimulating and harmonious. Arthavadin has done a great job of collating the responses generated under 14 headings, and will be taking these to the Steering Group before disseminating them further. We were able to share the first draft with the ECA session that was discussing much the same topic as a strategic priority.
When Arthavadin become International Council Convenor, he set up some informal working groups to begin, as he put it, ‘grasping the nettle’ – or starting to engage with some of the more long term and demanding topics needing attention. I’m involved with the group exploring ‘Growth and Sustainability in Triratna’, which has had several stimulating meetings and will be generating material that will hopefully form the basis of a formal IC Working Group, which will then be able to make recommendations.
At Adhisthana, I especially appreciated our recent Community days, as the ones earlier this year were torpedoed by someone catching Covid. Among other things, we spent one delightful session hearing each community member advocate a project, and then voting on how to distribute this year’s £3,000 dana budget. Different community members offered a choice of study on Eros & Beauty / the Dasadhamma Sutta / the Kadampa Precepts. Khemabandhu hosted an update on the Adhisthana Teaching Community project, and others of us talked about the various responsibilities we hold as part of the Adhisthana Mandala. This week Rochani leaves Adhisthana, after being dedicated to the project for eight years. She’s off to experiment with living alone but within reach of friends and culture in London. And in a couple of weeks Jayadhi, the youngest Order member, arrives back.
I’ve also started a very informal and enjoyable gathering at Adhisthana, initially with Aryajaya, Saraha, and Khemabandhu, which is intentionally not a meeting, but an opportunity to share impressions and experience arising out of our various responsibilities.
Adhisthana is looking especially beautiful this summer, as Sanghadeva plants out a design by Chris Beardshaw, and the photogenic and friendly rare-breed sheep are back grazing under the oak trees. Dr Richard Comment, of the Bumblebee Conversation Trust and supported by the World Wildlife Fund (UK), visited our wildflower meadows for a Bumblebee ID training day, and filmed a very philosophical interview with Sanghadeva.
We celebrated the summer solstice by inviting local Order members to join us for a barbecue. One of our local Order members was recently awarded an O.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for the contribution she has made to so many people as a result of her inspired creation of Breathworks. Congratulations to Vidyamala on such well-deserved recognition!
> June’s ‘Features from the College’