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Dear Order Members and friends,
Last month one of my deputies, Amrutdeep, wrote from his perspective about the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. 16 Order members and over 35 Dhammamitras died in India in the last couple of months and it’s still pretty grim; if you’d like to help, you can read more about some of the ways in which you can give here.
Its poignant that over the past five weeks or so we’ve also welcomed 41 new members into the Order, some of whom had been invited to be ordained last year. This was a feat of flexible organisation under current conditions.
An online ordination retreat in April created the conditions for six women to be ordained, three in Holland and three in Germany, with Kulanandi driving between Metta Vihara and the Berlin women’s community to conduct their public ordinations.
An online ordination retreat led from Taraloka this month supported ten women and their preceptors to hold private ordinations. The public ordinations conducted by Santavajri and Padmasuri at Adhisthana, by Subhadramati at the London Buddhist Centre, and by Parami at Dhanakosa. A second online ordination retreat culminated in a further ten women being publicly ordained by Subhadramati at Taraloka.
Two women were publicly ordained by Karunadevi at Dharmadhara Retreat Centre in California, after being on retreat with their preceptors.
And most recently, Buddhamaitri was publicly ordained by Padmavajra, following a retreat with his preceptor Aparajita; and, a face-to-face ordination retreat for 12 men took place at Vajrasana, with public ordinations conducted by Arthapriya and Paramabandhu, and I believe most – if not all – of them have been able to travel to Guhyaloka to continue their retreat. Being based at Adhisthana I was especially glad to hear that James Brodie has become Khemabandhu, and Ben Linsey-Bloom is now Vilasamuni. Khemabandhu is a key member of the Adhisthana team and Vilasamuni joined the community here for the months leading up to his ordination.
Continuing the theme of ordination, I spent last week at Tiratanaloka where the team have been holding ordination training retreats online. It was a delight to be able to meet and sit together in their beautiful community shrine room to mark the responsibility of Chair being handed on from Candraprabha to Karunadhi both of whom I ordained. It’s good to see responsibility being handed on down the generations and to know that Tiratanaloka is in such good hands. To mark the occasion I had found some notes made by Suvajra, of Bhante’s comments on his experience of handing on responsibility; and as I read this out I realised that they were dated 28th May 2001, at Il Convento, and so exactly 20 years ago.
Finally, it was with great sadness that I had a communication with a long-standing Order member, to let him know that, in consultation with my Deputies, the International Order Convenors, and Ethics Kula, I had come to the conclusion that his past action was incompatible with membership of our Order. This is not something that has happened often in our Order, and some Order members are understandably concerned; however matters like this have to be confidential and I haven’t been able to share details. Our consultations have reflected the sadness and seriousness of this matter and we’ll continue to consider and discuss how we can best fulfil our commitment to ethical practice, with care for all those affected.