For the past year Rijumati, Sinhendra and others have been working to create a Buddhist centre and Sangha in Barcelona. Things are going well, and he sends us this report -
“This autumn we’re greatly expanding our Sangha activities in Barcelona and Catalunya. Up until now our time’s mostly been spent maintaining the weekly class that was initiated some while back by the Sangha in Valencia and establishing ourselves in a new community with Bernard Stevens, a mitra from Brussels.
In September we held our first weekend retreat for the Catalan Sangha. It was a great success with 22 people attending in a lovely rural house belonging to one of our friends in the Penedes region south of Barcelona - see the photo. The theme was Los cuentos de la vida espiritual (Stories of the spiritual life) and we explored stories from the life the Buddha as well as telling stories of significant events in our own spiritual lives. The feeling of friendship, fun and harmony was palpable and our friends want to do more retreats. We are intending to hold some sort of retreat event at least once every two months. Our next weekend retreat will be in November, hosted by the community at Ecodharma Retreat Centre in the Catalan Pyrenees. We are also running a four day retreat here in Catalunya over the New Year break to give people a chance to refresh their practice after the busyness of Christmas.
This month we are starting a Dharma study group for regulars based on the excellent one year Foundation Course (which has been translated into Spanish thanks to the efforts of the Sangha in Valencia and Mexico). This is a very important step in taking things deeper, since the introductory class that has been running for nearly three years can no longer adequately cater for the needs of all the different people who come along. We also have a weekly practice night on Sunday evening, where we meditate and celebrate puja. Sinhendra is planning a series of rituals around the city to help us establish the Dharma here. The first of these will be a ritual invoking the support of Akshobya and each Sunday evening we explore some more of his qualities.
In November I’ll be running a 5-week course introducing people to meditation in English in a Yoga centre a bit further out of the city centre. Barcelona is a very cosmopolitan city and we have had several requests for meditation tuition in English. This course will be something of an experiment. Another experiment is our first Cultural evening in October where we are inviting people to bring anything creative about themselves that they would like to share.
Thanks to the generosity of several Order Members we have started a library which already has nearly 500 books, mostly Dharma, myth and philosophy. It is wonderful to have this resource which includes many canonical texts, a large number of Bhante’s works and those of many other Order Members and Buddhist teachers. Although most of these books are in English quite a few people in our Sangha read English and we are slowly building up a library of Spanish Dharma books. Members of our Sangha are free to borrow the books; we ask that they donate an appropriate book to join the library.
Thanks to the technical wizardry of Vajranatha and Frank Bergman our website www.budismo-barcelona.com continues to rank number one for Google searches that include budismo and barcelona. Many people are contacting us this way. Please have a look, all our activities are listed there.
Last but not least we have started our search for a Buddhist Centre in Barcelona. The demand for this has largely come from some members of our Sangha here who feel that it is time to consolidate our activities by getting our own place (this autumn we will be running events in several different venues). It is in fact a good time to be renting since the economic crisis in Spain has created a surplus of vacant properties and prices are relatively cheap. The regulars in our Sangha have pledged to offer regular monthly support to pay the costs of renting. We will need to raise some start up capital (around €5000) to pay for the deposit, agent’s fees and probably a small redecoration project. We hope to be able to raise some of this from the Movement at large, please consider if you could help us. Donations can be made on our Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/triratna-barcelona. We are looking around the city for a suitable place and with the help of the Valencia Sangha we are going to set up a legal entity Triratna Catalunya to represent us.
Of course in 2012 we hope to develop things even further, especially inviting experienced teachers from the Valencia Sangha to give talks, lead events and run courses. It is likely that by autumn next year there will be 2 or 3 more Order Members living here engaging with our work of spreading the Dharma. It is a very exciting time for the Triratna Sangha in Barcelona. If you are passing through this wonderful city please drop us a line at barcelona [at] triratna.es