Newsletter Editorial

From Jnanadhara

May 2019

Dear Friends,

I wrote to you last at the beginning of the year when I was reflecting on the death of our teacher and founder Bhante Sangharakshita. His passing represents a massive alteration in the landscape of our community and we are still thinking and feeling our way into its significance. Personally, Bhante’s death has inspired me to revisit many of the teachings and practices that I’ve learnt from him since I first encountered Triratna in the mid-90s. Somehow his sudden departure has allowed me to recapture an element of ‘beginner’s mind’ in relation to them.

Buddhism for Today and Tomorrow

One of the things I’ve been doing, together with my Mitra study group, is listening to some of the talks he gave. Most recently, we listened to and discussed a series he gave in 1976, entitled Buddhism for Today and Tomorrow, in which he outlines what the Triratna Buddhist Community offers men and women in the modern world. These talks are a celebration of the achievements of the then nine-year-old Buddhist movement, as well as the presentation of a vision for its unfoldment in the future.

Four Gifts

In the first talk, he focusses on meditation as one of the things Triratna has to offer, and how this addresses a fundamental human need for a method which enables personal development. The second talk outlines a vision of human existence that communicates where we are now and what we might become. He talks about the nature of existence as process and how, if we understand the manner in which it occurs, we can achieve liberation. We hear about spiritual community in the third talk. He speaks of it in a highly inspired way as representing the ‘nucleus of a new society’ – a new kind of collective that exists to support and foster the growth of the individual. The fourth talk outlines the need to bring a new world into existence where truly human values are at the heart of our collective lives. He goes on to indicate how we might bring this into being by extending the spiritual community outwards into wider society.

Bhante’s conviction is infectious and his arguments compelling. I can’t help but feel that he is bang on, that the four things he speaks about – a method of personal development, a vision of human existence, the nucleus of a new society and a blueprint for a new world – are what is needed. Needed, not just for the frustrated and suffering individual, but, equally as important, for a tormented, violent and suffering world.

A Response to Violence

This all came home to me after the recent extreme violence in New Zealand. Coming from there as I do, and New Zealand historically being a relatively peaceable place, it came as a shock and had a profoundly distressing effect on me – much more than I would have expected. Afterwards, I was left with the question of how best to respond.

I concluded that the most immediate response I could make was to resolve to actively counter the arising of hatred in my mind, to take the cultivation of metta much more seriously, to engage with a method of personal development. And not just to do the metta-bhavana myself, but to teach it to others, as part of a path to the enlightened state where hatred does not arise at all.

I feel quite sure that Bhante would suggest that these things alone, as helpful as they may be, are not enough. As he says in his talks, establishing and developing an altruistically orientated spiritual community, which actively engages with the world, is also urgently needed. Making this happen is what Triratna is for, what our Dublin Buddhist Centre is for. At present our activities are happening on what is admittedly a modest scale, but we are building momentum all the time and touching the lives of more and more people. I’d like to invite you to get involved. This can be as simple as attending the events that we run and taking what you learn out into the world. It is easy to underestimate what a profound difference this can make to our own lives and the lives of others.

Wishing you well for the Summer months ahead.

With metta,

Stop press:

I’ve just this minute learnt that Declan Brennan has been invited to join the Triratna Buddhist Order! Congratulations Declan. May all blessings be yours!