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The European Chairs Assembly is taking place 17-27 July 2017 at the LBC’s beautiful new Vajrasana retreat centre in the Suffolk countryside.
Twice a year the chairs from Triratna Buddhist Centres across Europe as well as the chairs or representatives from the main Triratna projects such as the Abhayaratna Trust, Karuna, Clear Vision and Dharmachakra, come together - for a week in January, and 10 days in the summer. It is a significant event in the life of a chair. The main aims of the meeting are -
to deepen friendships and develop new ones, as well as to establish a network of communication and relationships among people who carry significant responsibility within our Triratna Buddhist Community;
getting some input and renewed inspiration. These meetings always include days of practice and Dharma input and so contribute to keeping the flame of inspiration and enthusiasm alive which our Centres and Triratna projects need to thrive.
‘business’ - attending to all the collective decisions chairs of Centres need to make, hearing from with members of the College of Public Preceptors, plan for events and projects in the future, and so on.
providing often much appreciated time and space for chairs of busy city centres to think, do nothing, reflect on their own project, compare notes and get ideas from others who are holding a very similar vision and responsibility.
The summer chairs’ meetings have the added pleasure of often including the presence of chairs from countries beyond Europe who are welcome as guests: this time we have Vajranatha from Merida/Venezuela; Viryakirti from Mexico City; three chairs from Australia - Akashamani from Port Fairy; Dantacitta from Melbourne and Samacitta from Sydney; and also Rijupatha from The Buddhist Centre Online, from New Hampshire/USA.
The 2017 summer meeting began as it typically does, with a day of meeting in small groups and reporting-in on how it’s going both personally and in one’s Centre.
We’ve also had a delightful introduction to Vajrasana from Jnanavaca, the chair of the LBC. He talked about the vision behind the project - to design a sacred space which reflects how we practise in Triratna. So, for example, Vajrasana is designed around three courtyards that represent the Three Jewels.
We also heard some of the stories behind the creation of the new retreat centre - the joys and obstacles on the way, which included the project being delayed for months as bats were found in none of the barns and alternative accommodation hd to be found for them, as well as interesting bits of information such as the existence of a crystal vajra buried underneath the stupa in one of the courtyards, or the fact that the perforated wall in the shrine room echoes the Buddha meditating under trees. Sitting in the shrine room is like sitting in the dappled light of a forest - and at night the walls just disappear and you end up sitting in the golden radiance of the Buddha.