Lokabandhu writes with news of the recent meeting of Triratna’s Chairs’ Assembly, one of the main forums enabling Triratna Buddhist Centres around the world to stay in contact and discuss matters of common concern., He says - “In early August 2011 around 60 Triratna Chairmen/women and invited guests gathered at Padmaloka in Norfolk, UK, for the bi-annual International Chairs Assembly - Europeans plus visitors from Australia, Brazil, Estonia, India, Mexico, USA, and Venezuela.
The Assembly started with a series of small groups, allowing those present to meet and tune in with one another, plus an induction for new Chairs. There was also an excellent study/practice day with Ratnaguna, drawing on material in his new book The Art of Reflection. Evenings were given over to meditation and puja, and towards the end Subhuti came and led a second study/practice day. All this gave an excellent balance between the potentially conflicting demands of ‘business’ with spiritual practice (plus time for a much-appreciated bit of rest & recuperation!)
These were followed by 4 short and very personal talks on ‘Being a Chair as Practice’, and an excellent talk by Vajragupta on ’ The Dharma Transforming Society ‘, this having been placed joint top strategic priority by the ECA on the previous summer’s Assembly. Building on the work of Reginald Ray, Vajragupta offered a ‘threefold model’ of our spiritual community: Retreatants, Sangha-Builders, and Social Activists, and looked systematically at the strengths, weaknesses, and contributions of each.
Triratna’s ‘Development Team’ presented a number of areas they’d been working on: a Fundraising tutorial, suggestions for publicity, and a new Model Constitution for Triratna Centres. As always, there was a budget proposal for the ECA’s Development Fund - which had had a record year, with income of over £100,000, wholly donated by Triratna Centres and groups in the UK, Europe, and beyond. Following the January meeting’s successful experiment, afternoons were left free for interested parties to self-organise ‘focus’ groups. Some of the topics explored were:
- continental European Chairs’ common interests - - the Sila Network (a new environmental good-practice initiative from EcoDharma www.ecodharma.com - - relationships between Triratna and national Buddhist Unions - - principles guiding sexual ethics policies at Triratna centres and retreat centres - - meditation teaching - retreat centres common interests and collaboration
Agenda points were gathered throughout the ECA for the upcoming meeting of the new Triratna International Council, scheduled to meet for the first time in August 2011. A full report from this is being prepared and should be ready early in October. Last but not least, the final evening, as usual, was given over to music, with memorable performances from Arthamitra, Amalamati, Manjunatha and Jnanadhara. All told, it was another rich and full meeting, and generously hosted by Padmaloka - who also found time to organise the much-appreciated nightly volleyball sessions!
This report was prepared by Lokabandhu from the Development Team. For more information on the team, click here.