Chairs' Letter – September 2020On Wed, 30 September, 2020 - 19:11
Dear Order members
Two days ago I attended the public ordination of 16 women at Adhisthana. When Bhante chose the ‘miracle’ design of the stupa for Dhardo Rimpoche at Tiratanaloka, he said it was because the greatest miracle was Going for Refuge; it seemed especially miraculous to be having public ordinations, given the Covid 19 restrictions, with around 500 people joining the live zoom. I was on the balcony, above the flags and aware of the blessings of blue sky and bird song – and a sea of grey/blue robes.
We recently received news that Mas de Flara, the ruined farm half way up the dirt track to Akashavana, has been acquired. This is great news, and something we have been hoping and planning for over many years as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly increase retreat accommodation and secure land between the retreat centre and community house. Well done and thanks to everyone who has made this possible, and I’m sure help will be needed to develop the property.
The other big project I am aware of was the purchase, a couple of months ago in the UK, of Alfoxton Park / Isipatana, which will be developed especially for Arts events and longer retreats. I hope to get to visit at some point.
After the stimulating symposium on Buddhist Modernism, earlier this year at Adhisthana, I was glad to see the re-launch of the Western Buddhist Review, with the latest volume addressing self / not-self (back copies also available). Thanks to editors Dhivan, Silavadin and Matt Drage for making this peer-reviewed crossover of scholarly and Triratna thinking available to us all at www.westernbuddhistreview.com.
The online International Council meeting, which was already underway when I last wrote, proved especially beneficial for individual Area Councils, although it was not practically possible to allow for complete mingling of all the different time zones. A lot of preparation and summing up was done in the form of short video clips, and this material – including a set of talks introducing the Bodhicitta practice – is available via The Buddhist Centre Online and will be filtering through the three Strands. Juggling time zones, Areas and Strands was complex and demanding, especially of Akasajoti; many thanks to her. For those of us involved in the Adhisthana Kula this was the first presentation of our summary report, and it was a relief to hear generally appreciative feedback.
I wasn’t working as hard as Akasajoti, but was tired afterwards and didn’t give myself much time to prepare for the second of Vimalasara’s ‘Courageous Conversations’, which was a shame, as I then didn’t make the most of the opportunity.
I was interested to read Ratnaguna’s recommendation of ‘How to Have Impossible Conversations’, by James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, with the emphasis on things such as understanding, rather than winning; listening more and talking less; building rapport and assuming good intentions… and also to receive mention from another Order member of some open source software that supports the process of consensus building in order to work against the tendency for written discussion to become polarised. I don’t yet know how useful either of these initiatives would be, but they appear to be moving the process of debate in an encouraging and constructive direction.
I’m delighted that we will be continuing to have the twice weekly opportunity to join other Order members in the practice for the arising of the bodhicitta.
View this Letter in the Preceptors’ College Mail-out here.