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Hi, I’m Parami and, in 1980, I was ordained on a weekend retreat by Sangharakshita. I live in Glasgow, Scotland on my own in a flat in a high rise block in a very working class area (back to my roots). I’m lucky that 3 other Dharmacharinis (Order Members) live in the same high rise block and, before lockdown, we meditated together a couple of mornings a week. A friend called it a vertical community. My days are varied with different Triratna responsibilities and with activist / social action type activities.
My lifestyle had changed drastically not long before lockdown began. Having spent most of the previous 40 years living in communities I had moved home to Scotland to live alone. Lockdown forced other changes. I have always travelled teaching the Dharma and, of course, such travel became impossible. Plans to travel to Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Australia and NZ were all cancelled or put on hold.
The biggest challenge was early on in the pandemic when decisions had to be taken by myself and team about the three month ordination retreat we had been scheduled to lead. It was due to begin in late April 2020. It became clear that would not be possible and this meant creative thinking - and communication - with the 23 women who had been invited. I think we did this well and I’ve been impressed by how those women responded and have continued to deal with having to constantly let go of expectations around what will be one of the most important events of their lives.
More personally, I’ve still visited lots of Triratna centres around the world but all from my living room. For years, I hadn’t spent so much time on my own nor in the same place. Pre-pandemic, I would have expected to struggle with this as I’m an extrovert and a restless soul. I’ve surprised myself by being content and happy to be so settled. I’ve loved being in Glasgow, and the view from my balcony sustains me.
I dread to think how I would have found this last year without the internet, without good friends and, most importantly, without the Dharma and a meditation practice. My heart goes out to the many who are less fortunate. Post-pandemic I hope we remember positive lessons learned about simplicity and solidarity.
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