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After a substantial thirty years as the President of the Wellington Buddhist Centre, Nagabodhi handed on this role to Jnanadhara in a beautiful ritual, with rejoicings, meditation and song on Tuesday 25th February.
Saradarshini, the Chair of the Wellington Buddhist Centre, writes about this significant occasion:
“How fortunate we are! Not only have we had a fabulous President in Nagabodhi for the last thirty years, now we have Jnanadhara, experienced, dedicated, capable and young (ish). And that’s not all! Jnanadhara found the Dharma at the WBC many years ago and is keen to contribute to the growth of our Sangha. He won’t be able to visit us in 2021 but after that, his intention is to visit each year.
Thirty-two of us gathered at the WBC on Tuesday 25th February to witness Nagabodhi handing on the responsibility of President of the Wellington Buddhist Centre to Jnanadhara.
The evening began with Varadevi and Achala, rejoicing in Nagabodhi and thanking him for his 30 years’ involvement with the Wellington Sangha. Achala and Varadevi were the first two Chairs of the Centre and have known Nagabodhi since before he became our President.
During this time Nagabodhi has worked with the five Chairs of the Centre and developed personal connections with the whole of the Sangha. His two-yearly visits for two weeks included leading a weekend retreat, giving talks at the open nights at the Centre, meeting with the Council and individually with members of the Sangha. A very popular visitor, he tended to have lunch and dinner dates every day of his visits, squeezing in coffee catch-ups in any spaces.
He has also been leading the men’s GFR retreats and so making deep connections with those training for ordination and subsequently joining the Order.
Nagabodhi responded to these rejoicings with appreciation and gave an inspiring talk on building the Buddhaland in Wellington. He also pointed out how lucky we were to have Jnanadhara as our incoming president.
I led the ritual in the shrine room which began with a short sit followed by the Dharma singers, Suryagita, Jasmine and Trish, singing “Transient as Dreams” a song composed by Suryagita using the words of Kukai’s poem “To a Nobleman in Kyoto”.
Jnanadhara ritually received the keys of the WBC and took on the responsibility of President with the four lines of acceptance we use at our ordination.
We made our offerings as we all sang “As we all go for refuge” – a composition by Suryagita for the Australasian Great Gathering in 2018
Jnanadhara then celebrated all the people who have contributed to initiating sustaining, developing and growing the WBC. This is where he first came across the Dharma. He left Wellington in 1999 with the intention of returning once ordained and here he is in 2020 as our President.
After a final song from the Dharma singers, a poem and haiku by Ryokan set to music by Suryagita, the ritual ended with The Transference of Merit.
The evening concluded with tea and cake and conversation.
It is with gratitude that the Wellington Sangha farewell Nagabodhi and welcome Jnanadhara. As the current chair of the WBC I look forward to an ongoing relationship with Jnanadhara and him carrying the Centre forward as chairs come and go.”
Listen to the singing from Suryagita and the Dharma Singers during the Presidential handover
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