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A lotus with seventy petals – a symbol for one European young Buddhist sangha
From Friday the 2nd, until Sunday the 4th of June, the first Mainland Europe Young Buddhist Convention was held in Berlin. Seventy young Buddhists from ten European countries came together to explore the theme ‘one sangha’. How can young Buddhists from different countries become one sangha? The relationship between unique individuals in all their diversity vs. their commonalities and shared values, was the central topic of the weekend.
During the first meeting on Friday night the order members from the Triratna European council came by to give their blessing to the young Buddhist activities being organized and to emphasize the importance of international exchange.
After their visit the organizers of the weekend, facilitators of the young Buddhists in Berlin: Hannah, Tobias and Mirko, showed us a big white sheet on the wall of the big shrine room. Three circles were painted on the sheet. In the middle of the smallest circle was the Triratna logo of the three jewels. This was the starting point of a blossoming lotus flower. Everyone was invited to make their own petal: colouring, painting, drawing on the petal was okay – as long as it was meaningful to you. One by one the petals would be placed on the circles and at the end of the weekend there would be a beautiful blossoming lotus. This lotus symbolically held all the diversity between young Buddhists in different countries, but also represented a European sangha with shared values.
During the convention there were talks being held by different young order members of Triratna. You can watch Akasajoti’s talk on One Sangha: Building the Buddhaland in 2017 on Vimeo or listen to the audio file on Free Buddhist Audio. Prasadacarin’s talk One Sangha: Diversity and Unity was also filmed, and again you can listen to the audio file on Free Buddhist Audio.
A conversation café took place and there was a meeting of all the facilitators to exchange ideas about future collaborations. On Saturday night a sevenfold Puja took place and, of course, there was plenty of opportunity to meditate together. The convention came to an inspiring end on Sunday afternoon in front of a blossoming lotus.
An underground party in Berlin
There was possibility to stay for the informal part of the convention on Sunday afternoon and Monday. On Sunday afternoon, the Karnaval der Kulturen took place in Berlin. A parade full of different cultural diversity was to be seen on the streets of Kreuzberg. It was a party full of loud and diverse music and dancing people with amazing costumes. Although it was a very loud event with a lot of alcohol, for the young Buddhists this was a nice extension to the realm of the convention: international exchange.
In the evening, there was a true underground party in the Buddhistisches Tor with a lot of dancing and vegan snacking. Who would have thought young Buddhists have such great moves! The next day we had a sunny day of sightseeing Berlin. A few members of the Berlin sangha led different walks through the city. Of course, there was a falafel-break. Thanks to these informal activities, the young Buddhists were able to get to know each other better and were able to see a different side of each other.
About fifty people stayed with members of the Berlin sangha, who were so generous to open up their houses for them. There were even a few people who left their houses to make space for their international guests. Breakfasts were made, bikes were borrowed, keys were given to total strangers. This generosity was experienced as overwhelming and can be seen as an act of international friendship and shared values – precisely the central theme of the weekend. That makes the circle, just like the seventy-petal lotus, complete.