Newsletter - Editorial

From Jnanadhara

May 2018

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well on what (I hope!) is the tail end of a very long winter.

Order Convention

I was lucky enough to dodge a few weeks of winter cold when Vajrashura, Rijumuni and I travelled to India in February. Our first port of call was Bodh Gaya, where we attended the Triratna Buddhist Order International Convention. Bodh Gaya is the place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment and every day we gathered at the Bodhi Tree – the actual place of Enlightenment – to meditate and pay homage to the Buddha and his extraordinary achievement.

At present about a third of our Order lives in India, so it’s not surprisingly then that Indian Order members vastly outnumbered us westerners at the convention, and it was great to get to know Indian Order Members in a bit more depth. In talking to them about their Dharma lives, I came to see how seriously they take the potential of the Dharma to transform, not just individual lives, but society.

Most Indian Order Members come from the very bottom of Indian society and know firsthand the worst kinds of discrimination and injustice. For them, the need for societal change is urgent, and they see the Dharma as the means to achieve it. Their great hero is Dr Ambedkar who instigated a Dhamma Revolution, the aim of which is to fundamentally transform society in line with Buddhist values by non-violent means. One of the key aspects of this revolution is that there can be no real change in society without transforming the hearts and minds of the individual members of that society.

A Buddhist Society

One of the places Vajrashura and I visited after the convention was Ajanta, an ancient complex of rock-cut Buddhist cave temples. The caves include paintings and rock-cut sculptures and are world renowned for being among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art. They are a remnant of what must have been an extraordinarily rich Buddhist culture and a reminder that a society founded on Buddhist principles has been a reality in India before and could be so again.

The Dharma in Ireland

But what about Ireland? Clearly, we live in a very different country from India. We have an almost entirely different history, culture and climate. However, people are still people wherever they are, and the Dharma addresses universal human concerns. The challenge then is to do what we can to help the values of the Dharma to inform Irish society here and now.

Seeing that it is an intrinsic function of the Dharma to be an active force in transforming society for the better has always been integral to the Triratna Buddhist Community. I believe there is real merit in taking this seriously. Unlike India, a nation of more than a billion people, Ireland is a relatively small island nation, and I believe it is possible for a small, inspired and committed group of people to have a real and lasting impact.

Buddhist Action Month

It has become a tradition in Triratna, and in the wider Buddhist world, to celebrate and explore the altruistic dimension of Buddhism in June of every year in Buddhist Action Month (BAM). We have a whole range of events planned the details of which you’ll find in the subsequent pages.

As, one by one, we make our own commitment
An ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows

This is an excerpt from an oft-recited verse and expresses the primary way that any real change in the world can be effected, i.e. by individuals exploring the Dharma and making the choice to deepen their commitment to practising it. Society, of course, is made up of individuals, and any change that takes place takes place individual by individual. This is of course a slow process. Slow as it is, I have the sense that in our small community in Ireland it is gathering momentum. For example, there has been a consistent stream of Irish women and men joining the Order over the past few years. The stream continues as we patiently await news of the new name of Eileen McCarney, who is presently on her three month ordination retreat in Spain!

There has also been a steady stream of people meeting the Sangha and deciding to deepen their practice by becoming a Mitra. With that in mind I’d like to invite you to celebrate Buddha Day with us on Sunday May 27th and to witness a number of people taking this significant step on the path of the Dharma.

I look forward to seeing you at this or another event sometime soon.

Much metta, Jnanadhara

Events

Newsletter - Editorial

From Jnanadhara

May 2018

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well on what (I hope!) is the tail end of a very long winter.

Order Convention

I was lucky enough to dodge a few weeks of winter cold when Vajrashura, Rijumuni and I travelled to India in February. Our first port of call was Bodh Gaya, where we attended the Triratna Buddhist Order International Convention. Bodh Gaya is the place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment and every day we gathered at the Bodhi Tree – the actual place of Enlightenment – to meditate and pay homage to the Buddha and his extraordinary achievement.

At present about a third of our Order lives in India, so it’s not surprisingly then that Indian Order members vastly outnumbered us westerners at the convention, and it was great to get to know Indian Order Members in a bit more depth. In talking to them about their Dharma lives, I came to see how seriously they take the potential of the Dharma to transform, not just individual lives, but society.

Most Indian Order Members come from the very bottom of Indian society and know firsthand the worst kinds of discrimination and injustice. For them, the need for societal change is urgent, and they see the Dharma as the means to achieve it. Their great hero is Dr Ambedkar who instigated a Dhamma Revolution, the aim of which is to fundamentally transform society in line with Buddhist values by non-violent means. One of the key aspects of this revolution is that there can be no real change in society without transforming the hearts and minds of the individual members of that society.

A Buddhist Society

One of the places Vajrashura and I visited after the convention was Ajanta, an ancient complex of rock-cut Buddhist cave temples. The caves include paintings and rock-cut sculptures and are world renowned for being among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art. They are a remnant of what must have been an extraordinarily rich Buddhist culture and a reminder that a society founded on Buddhist principles has been a reality in India before and could be so again.

The Dharma in Ireland

But what about Ireland? Clearly, we live in a very different country from India. We have an almost entirely different history, culture and climate. However, people are still people wherever they are, and the Dharma addresses universal human concerns. The challenge then is to do what we can to help the values of the Dharma to inform Irish society here and now.

Seeing that it is an intrinsic function of the Dharma to be an active force in transforming society for the better has always been integral to the Triratna Buddhist Community. I believe there is real merit in taking this seriously. Unlike India, a nation of more than a billion people, Ireland is a relatively small island nation, and I believe it is possible for a small, inspired and committed group of people to have a real and lasting impact.

Buddhist Action Month

It has become a tradition in Triratna, and in the wider Buddhist world, to celebrate and explore the altruistic dimension of Buddhism in June of every year in Buddhist Action Month (BAM). We have a whole range of events planned the details of which you’ll find in the subsequent pages.

As, one by one, we make our own commitment
An ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows

This is an excerpt from an oft-recited verse and expresses the primary way that any real change in the world can be effected, i.e. by individuals exploring the Dharma and making the choice to deepen their commitment to practising it. Society, of course, is made up of individuals, and any change that takes place takes place individual by individual. This is of course a slow process. Slow as it is, I have the sense that in our small community in Ireland it is gathering momentum. For example, there has been a consistent stream of Irish women and men joining the Order over the past few years. The stream continues as we patiently await news of the new name of Eileen McCarney, who is presently on her three month ordination retreat in Spain!

There has also been a steady stream of people meeting the Sangha and deciding to deepen their practice by becoming a Mitra. With that in mind I’d like to invite you to celebrate Buddha Day with us on Sunday May 27th and to witness a number of people taking this significant step on the path of the Dharma.

I look forward to seeing you at this or another event sometime soon.

Much metta, Jnanadhara