Ukraine is sadly best known lately as a war zone - but that’s in the east. In the south there are seven mitras.
British public preceptor Saddhaloka recently made a one-week visit to Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city, on the shore of the Black Sea. He writes:
“Back in 2000 Dima Hovansky and a group of friends who practise the martial art Shorinji Kempo were pursuing their interest in Buddhism. On an alternative book stall in an Odessa market. they came across a copy of the Russian translation of Sangharakshita’s A Guide to the Buddhist Path. On the strength of the book Dima wrote to Sangharakshita on behalf of the group, asking him to become their teacher.
It took a while for the letter to reach Bhante, but he sent a warm and encouraging reply. He passed their letter on to me as I’d made a few visits to St. Petersburg and was involved with the Triratna Russian Dharma translation project. Letters were exchanged and in 2002 I made my first visit to Odessa. Nagadakini from Germany has also made several visits, and Padmadhara accompanied me once.
In summer 2013 Triratna’s Polish sangha held a retreat near Krakow, also attended by members of Triratna’s Russian and Ukrainian sanghas. Since then the international connections have been growing, with further Ukrainian participation in Polish retreats.
There were three mitra ceremonies at the end of my last visit, so there are now seven mitras in Odessa. They meet every Sunday to meditate and discuss the Dharma, and even without an ongoing Order presence their determination to pursue a life in the Dharma is striking.
Dima Hovansky asked for ordination at the end of the retreat in Poland last summer, and will attend his first Going for Refuge retreat at Padmaloka next month. Studying English, he has his sights set on Guhyaloka. His wife Ira and their four year-old daughter Sofia are keen to find out more about family retreats.”