On 30th September, after 14 years as Chair of Taraloka Retreat Centre for Women in Shropshire, UK, Saddhanandi handed over to Samantabhadri. Saddhanandi leaves in early December to take up her new responsibilities at Adhisthana,in nearby Herefordshire. Samantabhadri will hold the position for two years while Taraloka awaits the arrival of a new, long-term Chair.
Samantabhadri writes, “The transition took place during Community Days at Taraloka, attended by the community, trustees and Dhammadassin, Taraloka’s President. The event was warm-hearted, intimate and deeply respectful of the seriousness of the occasion.
Saddhanandi became Taraloka’s Chair on 7th September 2000. Handing on, she spoke movingly of the years since then, sharing memories of richness and challenge, and of the steady, confident growth of Taraloka. She spoke with characteristic vision, perception, kindness and light-heartedness. Everyone rejoiced in her many and very varied merits and, of course, the significance of all that she has so faithfully and so distinctively given. Impressive as a young Chair, she held the post over the years with great experience but always with spontaneity, creativity and responsiveness. Her contribution has been remarkable.
An evening puja in the community shrine room, led by Dhammadassin, marked the change of Chair in the presence of the Green Tara and Shakyamuni rupas, the White Tara thangka, and the mala and initiation vase blessed by Dhardo Rimpoche. Saddhanandi passed on the symbols of office: the weighty green mala, the rainbow scarf and the carved box of ‘terma’ teachings.
Samantabhadri chose to offer to the shrine the traditional offerings of flower, candle and incense, to honour her past, present and future connections with Taraloka and the qualities that accompany these. She spoke of the lineage of Taraloka Chairs and their close connections. Since the Taraloka property was bought, in 1984, there have been just four Chairs: Sanghadevi, Dayanandi, Saddhanandi and now Samantabhadri.
The next day, the life of Taraloka simply flowed on: a trustees’ meeting; a ritual to welcome a new member to the community. There was, however, an abiding sense of the weight and warmth of these days and of everyone’s heartfelt dedication to Taraloka and to its special significance within the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community and the wider Buddhist world.”