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In 2017 Triratna’s Adhisthana kula undertook to offer training in ‘Restorative’ practice within Triratna, as part of a process of learning to go deeper with difficult conversations and revisiting and learning further from past mistakes.
Read more about the restorative process
“Restorative” practice, or process, is a methodology that can be used in many situations “to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively”. Having developed from a process used in the criminal justice system it has been successfully adapted for many other situations including schools, children’s services, workplaces, hospitals and communities.
In February, Shantigarbha (member of the Restorative Pilot Project coordinating group) met with Karmavajra (Indian Order Convenor), Kumarjeev (ex-NVC trainer), Abhayadana (Women’s GFR team member), Anomasura and Vidyavardhini (Young Buddhists coordinators) for a five-day training in Restorative Circles at Bordharan retreat centre, near Nagpur in India. Amrutdeep, the Indian Public Preceptor who initiated this project, was unable to attend due to illness.
On the training they explored the difference between restorative and punitive approaches, their conflict history, the conditions for a restorative approach to emerge, the Restorative Circles process, host self-care, and transforming enemy images. Shantigarbha demonstrated by hosting a live conflict, and coached participants to host a semi-simulated circle. Finally they looked at the conditions for setting up a restorative system.
On the last day, all participants agreed to go forward as the Indian Restorative Pilot Project and selected Karmavajra as their coordinator. Kumarjeev offered ongoing mentoring to other members of the team. Shantigarbha handed over to Karmavajra and offered to be the link person with the UK Pilot Project. The Indian project team agreed to this and Amrutdeep gave his blessing by telephone to the developments.
Thanks very much to Shantigarbha for his support on this training. This training shifted my approach. Previously in my work as Order Convenor I tended to take a punitive approach: someone is to blame, something is wrong. But now I’ve started thinking that we can have a different approach, a restorative approach: no-one is right and no-one is wrong. Someone has acted, according to their conditions, and now we need to think restoratively. I got confidence in that.
I also got confidence that conflict is natural, and that we can resolve it. There is Samsara, so there will be conflict. We have Dharma practice, and now we have restorative dialogue to support us, so this has helped me to shift my approach. We can deal with any situation.
In India the Restorative Pilot Project will definitely help us with situations where there is no clarity, for instance who will be Chair of a Trust, and so on. It will help us to develop a wider approach, not to fall into a punitive approach. In the Sangha we believe that everyone has the same goal. But sometimes we miss our goal, or we fall down, so it will help us to uplift our consciousness.