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We are happy to say that the Sikkha website is now up and running at www.sikkha.online. Here you will find our first offering of three introductory courses. For each course there are weekly teachers notes, a short video introducing the theme for the week and a talk as it was presented during a course. All of the course material has been produced in order to resource Order members who teach at centres with material to stimulate and support their dharma teaching. We invite you to have a look and use what is helpful in your own context. The course material can be accessed using your BCO login.
Background to the Sikkha Project:
What we are doing
As we say on the home page of this website, the aim of the Sikkha Project is to help develop an integrated, progressive spiritual training in Triratna at every level of experience, from newcomers to the Order; to discover and share how the different elements of our system are taught and practiced most effectively; and to create resources and training to fill any gaps.
There are many formulations of the path to liberation, but we decided to think in terms of the five great dimensions of the path that our teacher, Sangharakshita, has elucidated: integration, positive emotion, spiritual death, spiritual rebirth, and spiritual receptivity. These can be seen as a progressive sequence of stages and/or as a mandala, in which each dimension is practiced and experienced at every level of development.
How we are doing it
We began in 2016 with a process of consultation. We invited Centre teams and teachers to meet together to discuss how they teach the five dimensions and encourage members of their local Sangha to practice them. A number of Centres accepted our invitation, mainly from the UK, but a few from other parts of the world too, such as Melbourne, Auckland, and Mexico City. Each of the participating Centres spent a day discussing how they taught the five dimensions at the various levels of involvement of people at their Centres, from newcomers to Order members.. Each Centre then sent the minutes of their meeting to Dhammamegha, and once they had all come in she and Ratnaguna analysed them. What we found was that, on the whole, the Centres were doing well with the first two dimensions - integration and positive emotion - but were not very clear, or confident, in teaching spiritual death or spiritual rebirth.
Listen to Dhammamegha and Dhammarati in conversation about Sikkha
For the next stage of the process we invited a number of teachers and Centre team members to what we called a Dharmakatha - a Dharma discussion - to discuss how we might help Centres to teach and train their students even better than they currently do. We wanted to spend a whole week doing this, but unfortunately - although perhaps unsurprisingly - not many of those we invited were able to attend. In the event four order members joined us for 5 days: Dhammarati who is instrumental in getting the project going, Maitryabandhu from the LBC, Vadanya from the Sheffield BC and Vajrashura from the Dublin BC.
Looking at and improving all the levels of training is a very big undertaking, so we decided to concentrate on one level at a time, starting with newcomers. At that meeting Dhammamegha and Ratnaguna reported on their findings from the various centre team meetings. Fortuitously, both the LBC and the Sheffield Centre run hugely successful beginners courses, and we asked Maitryabandhu and Vadanya to tell us about their respective courses. We discovered that all 5 dimensions were well represented in both courses, and as a result we decided to offer training in running those courses as our first offering to the movement. Maitryabandhu and Vadanya, and their respective Centre teams, have been extremely generous in creating and developing training resources for these courses - including teachers notes and training videos. These can be accessed in the Courses section of this website.
Listen to podcasts from the first Dharmakatha
Some time later we held a second Dharmakatha. Unfortunately Vajrashura was unable to be with us for this one, although Dhammarati, Maitryabandhu and Vadanya were both present again. At this meeting we focused on the intermediate level - i.e. between newcomers and Mitras. This can be a tricky level, in which the initial enthusiasm and inspiration of the newcomer can lose impetus, and the weekly class for this level of involvement has a tendency to become rather dull and lifeless. Again, both the LBC and the Sheffield Centre have managed, in two quite different ways, to create a weekly class that maintains a high level of inspiration and participation, and we decided to learn from them. So our next offering to the movement will be in the form of ideas and materials to help centres to run a lively and engaged regular class at this level. This is under development and we will talk more about it in our next blog post.