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In her first Adhisthana Newsletter, earlier this month, she wrote: “This is the first time I’m writing to you after taking on the position of Chair at Adhisthana from Vajragupta. He is now touring various centres doing what he loves - teaching the Dharma.
I’m at my desk listening to the sounds of a very rowdy game of volleyball between various members of Adhisthana and the guys from the new Dharma Study Course that started in September. The new institution of volleyball has been introduced by Vimalamati, recently recruited as assistant to the International Order Convenors. This dovetails nicely with the 11am tea break that Sanghadarshini introduced as soon as she started her work as retreat centre manager. Both activities bring a lightness and ease to this collective situation of working and living together. It also helps to connect the different strands that are gathered within Adhisthana.
Another element of Adhisthana is welcoming visitors and pilgrims. Recently, Kate Grant arrived on foot from Worcester (15 miles away) having walked from Tooting, London, in stages; a pilgrimage that concluded with her meeting with Bhante. It was a pleasure to welcome her at the end of such a long journey.
We also welcomed 16 Mexican pilgrims at the end of October who visited for a weekend on a pilgrimage named “The Buddha and Bhante”, led by Abhayagita and Saddhakara. It was wonderful to host them here; they had a celebratory welcome dinner coinciding with the Day of the Dead, and were led in a day retreat with Parami, Rochani and Yashodeva, before departing for India!
Talking of arrivals, we have held our first two ordination retreats in the last months. Dayavandana’s private ordination in July by Ratnavandana was a delight and an inspiration even though also shadowed by the terminal cancer from which she subsequently died. Ajitasena’s ordination at the end of September was a very moving occasion, held within Sona’s ease and obvious joy for Ajitasena’s return to the Order. We will be hosting another women’s ordination retreat here in December.
These small and fairly private events are in contrast to the August Area Order weekend in which we celebrated Bhante’s 90th birthday. 400 people gathered here, although the large numbers were only really apparent in the shrine-marquee, otherwise the crowds seemed to disappear into the various activities - art exhibitions, music, workshops, performances, and in the library - the Nine Decades exhibition of Bhante’s life. A masterful event; thank you to everyone who participated in it.
We are now turning towards the start of 2016. A major focus of our events next year is small study seminars and larger study events, looking at aspects of the Dharma that Bhante chose to focus on in his early years of teaching. Have a look at our programme! Hopefully you’ll join us at some point in the year.”