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Dear Order members
At the end of June I moved back to Adhisthana and though I like the simplicity of my cell-like bedroom cum office, people on the other end of Zoom calls have been commenting on the bare walls as, until recently, the only painting was above my desk and behind the computer screen.
Covid-19 and the topic of race and racism, have continued to be major concerns, both within and without our sangha. Both wake up calls in their different ways, and both presenting a challenge to views and habitual behaviour. We may have to learn to live with the coronavirus, but it just could be that there is now a critical mass of people in the world willing to acknowledge and commit to uprooting the deep roots of racial prejudice.
We need to explore the topic of race, within the Order, and some people have been courageous enough to make a start in public online: thanks to Suryagupta and Subhuti, and to Vimalasara and the panel of Order Members who joined the first in the series of Courageous Conversations. I know other Order members are engaging with the topic in other ways, and there are plans to address it on the Conventions and at the International Council meeting. Hopefully we will see actions emerge.
It’s hard to share painful experience that has built up over a long time, especially when it is met with reaction. It’s hard to listen to someone else’s painful experience when we are directly or indirectly involved in having given rise to that pain. It’s probably not going to be an easy conversation, but both necessary and a precious opportunity to build a stronger and more effective Order together.
On a different note, a summary report of the work of the Adhisthana Kula should be posted and available very soon. We wanted to fill everyone in on the information we were aware of and what we were able to do in response, as well as highlighting areas we think still need to be addressed and inviting input on anything we’ve missed.
A few major responsibilities are now off my desk, and I’m very much hoping to be able to be able to start thinking ahead.
These letters are published in Shabda each month, as well as on thebuddhistcentre.com/preceptors and preceptorscollege.online, as a means to communicate the ongoing work of the College Chair and updates on current discussions and decisions. Responses are welcomed.