Lokabandhu reports from a recent gathering of Triratna’s European Chairs Assembly, saying - “Around 40 Chairs of Triratna’s European Buddhsit Centres recently met at Taraloka for the ECA’s biannual gathering and review of how things are going in the Triratna Buddhist Community across Europe. Here’s a short report of a very full and busy week!
After the usual hellos and introductions the meeting formally welcomed Aryapala, Maniraja, and Uddyotani, new Chairs of Padmaloka, Guhyaloka, and Leeds Buddhsit Centre respectively, plus Vessantara, there for the week simply to lead the meditations and pujas and a day of practice and reflection - in this case, on the theme of ‘spiritual death’. The first day was given over to small groups for reporting-in, an invaluable opportunity for Chairs to share in some detail how they and their Centres are doing, plus an induction by Vajragupta and some of the Exec for the three new chairs.
The business of the meeting began with a talk on Internationality by Mahamati, one of two ‘International Order Convenors’ and someone with a particular link to India, having lived and worked there for seven years. Following that, three afternoons had slots for Focus Meetings for Chairs to discuss any topic of interest to them; those tabled this time included the possible creation of an annual ‘Social Change’ festival as a way of making more visible our aspiration to harness the power of the Dharma to transform society and the work of Karuna and the India Dhamma Trust.
One morning was given over to review of how Triratna’s new website thebuddhistcentre.com was working - the week also seeing the launch of its very handsome new homepage, providing much easier access to the wealth of content already on it. Despite some teething problems it already attracts some 20,000 visitors/month and comes in at no.3 in a Google search for ‘Buddhism’ (as tested here in the UK, at least)
Karunika and Dhammarati were welcomed to the meeting for a presentation on the latest at Coddington Court (aka the Sangharakshita Land Project), and Amalavajra came to introduce himself and his ideas for fundraising across Triratna, introducing those present to his six ‘magic numbers (£60,000, 50%, 55, £90,000,000, 10%, and 1!) Anyone wanting to know what these mean will have to ask him personally…
Also happening were nightly ‘Exec meetings’, reviewing and discussing the meeting day by day, a couple of gatherings of Triratna’s Retreat Centre chairs and Mainland European chairs, the Dharmachakra Trustees, updates on the new New Ventures Project from Lokabandhu and Singhamati on the very successful Young Buddhists’ project - now nearly five years old.
As the meeting drew to a close, a brief review of the ECA’s eight Strategic Priorities was followed by a Business Meeting ratifying the various agreements reached during the week. The last afternoon was given over to some ever-popular Centre Presentations, this time on Birmingham and Dhanakosa, two thriving though very different projects, and the final evening was, as always, an evening of music and song, this time provided by the Scottish and Irish talents of Dassini and Jnanadhara respectively.
In the midst of all this were the ubiquitous walks and talks (and occasional visit to neighbouring tea shops!) , meditation and pujas led by Vessantara and even a showing of Hamlet in the evening for the night-birds. As we left we said farewell to Dayamala, stepping down after several years as Chair of Manchester, and also to Taraloka, generous hosts of many ECA meetings: starting in the summer future meetings, at least for 2013/4, are likely to be at Coddington Court, Triratna’s new retreat centre in the Midlands.