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The last weekend in September saw the annual gathering of the European Buddhist Union (EBU), this year hosted by Triratna at Adhisthana, followed as always by the annual meeting of the Buddhist Teachers in Europe (BTE).
For the EBU meeting, around 30 people from national Buddhist unions and individual Buddhist traditions across Europe, and including some young Buddhist guests, spent three days together, concentrating on two topics: 1) Young Buddhists and 2) preventing abuse in Sanghas. It was a really happy weekend, the visitors and the Adhisthana community seemingly delighting in each other, and in the beauty of Adhisthana in autumn.
Prajnaketu spoke about his work as Triratna’s Young Buddhist Co-ordinator and as Triratna’s Safeguarding officer I gave a talk explaining what Safeguarding is and how Triratna’s Safeguarding policies complement our Ethical Guidelines. (‘Safeguarding’ as understood in Britain is unknown in many European countries.) Those present signed up to a Statement against sexual abuse in sanghas.
Bhante had a steady stream of visitors all weekend and received a number of presents including a musical box playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ (the European anthem), a present very thoughtfully chosen by the secretary of the Austrian Buddhist Union because Bhante has such limited sight.
In the closing circle, the president of the Norwegian Buddhist Union, obviously moved, said he had first met Bhante in the 1970s and meeting this “towering pioneer in Western Buddhism” again that day had been the highlight of his weekend; something he would remember for the rest of his life.
“I really loved to be in Adhisthana. It’s a place where you can feel the Dharma everywhere.” Thank you message from an Italian Buddhist
The subsequent Buddhist Teachers in Europe (BTE) meeting was a meeting of 8-10 people. I very much enjoyed seeing Bhante attending the talks, sitting in a group of teachers listening intently and commenting carefully. It was a particular joy to see the friendship between him and Lama Shenpen Hookham. Now 93 and 72 respectively, they first met 50 years ago when he was her first Dharma teacher. She later founded the Awakened Heart Sangha in north Wales.