European Chairs gather at Adhisthana: Creating Sangha
On Fri, 21 February, 2014 - 05:14
Lokabandhu writes with a report from the recent gathering of Triratna’s European Buddhist Centre Chairs for their bi-annual ‘Assembly’ - known universally as the ECA and one of the primary mechanisms within Triratna for keeping its worldwide Sangha united and vibrant. He says -
“This was the second meeting of Triratna’s European Chairs at Adhisthana, and a much quieter affair than its exceptionally busy gathering last summer. Some 45 Chairs gathered for a week-long assembly whose overall theme was ‘Creating Sangha’. We approached this in many ways: by the simple act of “coming together in large numbers” to practice meditation and puja; with a symposium of short talks on ‘Creating Sangha’; a longer talk by Vajragupta exploring how we approach consensus in the Sangha; a discussion on Ethical Guidelines for Centres and Dharma teachers; and more. A record number of Mainland European chairs were present, coming from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, and Estonia: in fact constituting around 1/3rd of the whole meeting, and we were delighted to welcome Singhamati, who came to introduce herself as the new part-time ‘Young Buddhists coordinator’, about to start work developing and coordinating the younger Sangha across Triratna.
As usual the event began with small group meetings to report-in, an invaluable opportunity for Chairs to share in some detail with their peers how they and their Centres are doing. These smaller groupings continued throughout the week, convening whenever an issue needed discussing. There were centre presentations from Inverness and Berlin and as usual shrine room activities ably led by Amogharatna, Satyapada and Suryamati
Buddhist Action Month - BAM! The meeting returned to proposals aired last summer to join the 2014 Buddhist Action Month (BAM!) and agreed enthusiastically to back them. To be held throughout June, it’s a great chance to showcase what Triratna Centres can do and already do do for the world, both socially and environmentally. Also raised was the possibility of going “Beyond BAM”, specifically exploring the idea of emulating the Quakers’ 2011 collective declaration that they intended to become a “low-carbon sustainable community”. Known as their ‘Minute 36’, they asked all their members and institutions to commit to exploring and taking action on this. The theme of sustainability was kept in the air with a series of ‘post-puja’ films on Climate Change hosted by Lokabandhu: Home, Chasing Ice, and The Age of Stupid. He had also arranged for Triratna to become an ‘associate’ of Good Energy, one of the very few UK electricity companies supplying 100% green energy. For more on these and BAM itself see www.thebuddhistcentre.com/BAM.
Focus groups Individual chairs offered a wide range of afternoon ‘Focus Groups’ on topics that were ‘live’ for them: on meditation teaching, on giving feedback skilfully, on reaching out to other ethnic communities, on what the Quakers had achieved, and more. The meeting was followed immediately before and after by gatherings of The Buddhist Centre Online’s Council and Team, exploring priorities for the site - still very much in development but by far Triratna’s major online presence with over 60,000 visitors/month.
Fundraising initiative Towards the end of the meeting Amalavajra presented proposals for a major Triratna-wide fundraising initiative: he, supported by a Fundraising Board, will be launching a ‘major donor campaign’ in the Order inviting wealthy individuals to contribute significant sums to projects in one or more of the three broad areas - specifically Growth and Pioneers, Young Buddhists, and Triratna Media. Each will have its own ‘Allocations Committee’ who will solicit and distribute their funds to a range of substantial new developments across Triratna. These will be in addition to the existing fund out of which the ECA currently funds the Development Team and assists a number of specific initiatives. An ambitious - and exciting - target of £1m was set for the campaign as a whole, to be raised by early 2015. Watch this space…
On the final evening the meeting said farewell to both myself and Vajragupta, two ‘founder members’ of the Development Team. We were delighted to be able to report we had worked together for seven years without a single angry word or thought arising between us, and to be able to express our pleasure and pride in being able to serve the Chairs and the wider Movement as we have”.
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