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On Tuesday 5th March just over 30 Sangha members, including Vajrajyoti from Auckland and Shamani from Christchurch, crowded into the old Wellington Buddhist Centre reception to ritually mark their move to a new Centre. The move is an important one for the development of the Wellington Sangha - even if it is only 3 metres across the hallway - as it is into a space twice the size, and infinitely more functional, than the current space.
The final move is still a few weeks away as there are some last things to do in order to get the space ready, but the dedication ceremony was a significant milestone along the way.
Saradarshini, the chair of the Wellington Buddhist Centre, outlines the evening and explains how the move came about:-
We’ve been here for 6 years, moving in after a period of homelessness. This space has served us well and we’ve certainly occupied it as fully as we can and found creative ways of working around ill-placed pillars, lack of a separate shrine room, poor heating and cooling and proximity to a lot of activity with accompanying noise (necessarily noisy neighbours as they go about their business, panel beating, beer brewing and such like).
As we’ve grown in both numbers and activity there has been contention for space and at times it has been quite uncomfortable in here. So it is with appreciation and some relief, we begin our transition into this new space.
The idea to move came seriously into focus late 2017, prior to that a few of us had been keeping our eyes open and investigating financially unrealistic spaces, such as the old Paramount cinema on Courtenay place.
All the Sangha was invited to talk about what they wanted to do and at some point, it occurred to us to look at renting the whole of the space at the back of this building which is about twice the size of where we are now. Some of us started looking in there when we were at the Centre, listing all the disadvantages, but at the same time noticing how quiet it was, how much cooler it was in summer, how much warmer it was in winter and we began to wonder if there might be a way.
We drafted a plan and checked we could afford to rent it and went through our refit requirements with the landlord and his builder and it all seemed very feasible. Then Asangamati improved on our draft turning what would be very functional to something that was quite beautiful and inspirational. We are having a special shrine wall built by Trace in addition to the fit out. We negotiated the refit agreement and the new lease and in July 2018 all was agreed, meaning we were ready to move in as soon as the refit was complete.
Saradarshini thanked everyone who had been involved directly and indirectly and pointed out that it has taken the involvement and commitment of the whole Sangha in making this happen.
Achala, the original founder of the Wellington Buddhist centre 40 years ago, spoke of the importance of the dedication ceremony and two greetings were read: one from Nagabodhi, the current President of the Wellington Buddhist Centre, and the other from Jnanadhara, their future President.
Then the ritual dedication, led by Achala, began. We all followed him into our current shrine room, and saluted the shrine, and Suryagita led us in the Maitri Mantra. Then the Chair and the two Mitra Convenors took the 3 traditional offerings from the shrine and everyone else collected a cushion as a symbol of their dharma practice and we processed behind Achala into the new shrine room. After saluting the heart stoppingly beautiful new shrine Saradarshini, Asangamati and Achalamuni made the 3 traditional offerings. The WBC Dharma Singers offered a setting of the “118 Parables of Bodhicitta” composed by Suryagita and the Avatamsaka Sutra also set to music by Suryagita. After the dedication ceremony led by Achala, we all made offerings while chanting the Avalokiteshvara mantra and concluded with a period of just sitting.