Over the next seven days or so on The Buddhist Centre Online we’re celebrating one of the most significant developments in the Triratna Buddhist Community to happen in the last 20 years. Buddhafield is more than just an annual Festival (though a quite amazing one!) - it’s a distinctive, radically alternative way of living in and relating to the world. And, in the run-up to their new Green Earth Awakening Camp, we want to share the sights, sounds, philosophy and experience of Buddhafield with you.
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We’ll be bringing you a flavour of Buddhafield’s spirit, the community they are building, the challenges they face, the events they run, and their importance to the wider Triratna sangha that holds Buddhafield dear as an essential part of their practice lives. And we’ll be back later in the summer with Part 2 leading in to the main summer Festival itself, an event not to be missed!
Listen to talks from and about Buddhafield
“In Mahayana scripture the word buddhaksetra, which literally translates as ‘Buddha-field’, indicates ‘the field of influence of a Buddha’. Buddhafield obviously refers to that as well, but actual fields - green ones, sometimes muddy ones! - are at the heart of it. (So far these have been mostly English fields, though the phenomenon is spreading with new developments springing up in Holland and New Zealand, and a few other first stirrings elsewhere.) Buddhafield is the Triratna Buddhist Community as lived in the great outdoors, amongst the elements. It consists of practitioners who, from freezing January through to the end of autumn, conduct Dharma activities on the land.
It’s a way of practising Buddhism that has a noble precedent: the Buddha himself lived and taught on the land. For most of his long life, he wandered here and there at the edge of society, meditating, reflecting, and communicating his Enlightenment. Even during the monsoon rains, the period for intense meditation retreat, his community didn’t shelter in conventional buildings but meditated in leaf huts or caves. Likewise those attending a Buddhafield retreat meditate in tents, yurts, benders, geodesic domes, under the open sky and under trees…”
Kamalashila, Buddhafield’s President
Photographs copyright and courtesy Mim Saxl: www.mimsaxl.com
Karuna is a dynamic Buddhist charity formed in 1980 as the Triratna Buddhist Community’s response to the suffering of India’s Dalit community. We work with some of India’s most disadvantaged and discriminated people, sending more than £1 million every year to India. Our partners enable Dalit and tribal communities to fulfill their potential through social and Dharma projects. Karuna is a vibrant and dynamic organisation and that offers an amazing opportunity to transform both self and the world!
We currently have a full time vacancy for a Programmes Manager
The successful candidate will be responsible for managing a portfolio of grassroots projects in India. Previous management experience is preferred. The role is based in the Programmes Team whose vision is to support and empower the Dalit community to meet their needs, access their rights, and participate fully in society.
This role is a great opportunity to deepen your Dharma practice the within the context of a Triratna Team Based Right Livelihood. We offer a generous and flexible support package including pension contributions. For the full Job Description and Person Specification please contact Chandrasurya in full confidence on 020 7697 3009 or email email@example.com. Closing date for applications is Monday 3 June.
Dayabhadra writes to say: “The Triratna Choir goes on tour in May! The first concert is on Saturday 18th May at the London Buddhist Arts Centre, with a performance of ‘Touching the Earth’ . Performed by the Triratna Choir and Bodhivajra on piano, this is an exciting new piece, written by Bodhivajra, which dramatically re-tells the story of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
The choir will also be performing the winning compositions from the last two Triratna composer’s competitions, by Graham Patterson and Vipulakirti. Additionally, the concert will feature performances from Stephen Svanholm, baritone, accompanied by Akashadeva on piano and Bodhilila on viola, accompanied by Vishvantara on piano.
Other tour dates include:
Anteros Arts Foundation, Norwich Sunday 19th May 3.30pm
Birmingham Buddhist Centre, Saturday 25th May 3pm
Sheffield Buddhist Centre, Sunday 26th May 2pm (to celebrate Buddha Day, full moon May 2013)
Lama’s Pyjamas is the London Buddhist Centre’s ‘Right Livelihood’ charity shop in the East End of London. They’ve just celebrated a record year, and Claudine, one of its founders, writes with the good news. She says - “Headline: This year Lama’s Pyjamas made £117,166 gross profit and a net profit of £44,500. This along with gift aid in the region of £12,000 means that our dana to the LBC this year is £56,000. She continues -
“This year has seen Santavajri leave our team to go to join the wonderful women at Tiratanaloka. This was particularly bittersweet for me as she is my private preceptor and as well as working together, we lived together in the same Buddhist community. Sad for me that she left Lama’s and London but good because our loss is very much Tiratanaloka’s gain and she has so much to offer women in the ordination process. While Santavajri worked for us she set up our gift aid system which this year alone has meant an extra £12,000 in dana. The bright silver lining to the cloud of Santavajri’s leaving is that left an opening for Sraddhagita to join us. Sraddhagita has strong Team Based Right Livelihood experience having spent many years working in the Wild Cherry Café and is a competent and delightful addition to our team.
“We are all on support (as opposed to wages) and are advocates of the support system. Our experience is that it fosters a spirit of generosity and for us that feels abundant and rich. We use our work as an opportunity to practice embodying our spiritual ideals. We have a weekly study session with Subhadramati, at the moment we are looking at Subhuti’s paper on the Suprapersonal Force. In addition to our weekly study, this year as a team we decided to put our focus on Maitreyabandhu’s ‘Life with Full Attention’ book, spending a month on each section of the book and reporting in to each other each week as to how we are getting along.
“We have experienced enormous generosity from the local community in terms of donations, from the women’s sangha in terms of volunteers and from people like Taravandana and Vajraghanta who have given us their time and expertise by providing training for us on our Team Days.
“As a team we would very much like to encourage any centres thinking of opening a charity shop to do so. The work is simple and suited to practicing mindfulness, patience, kindness etc, it is an opportunity for the general public to experience Buddhism in action and last but not least it could be a way of raising dana for your centre.
“Yours in the Dharma, the Lama’s Pyjamas Team (Padmalila, Sraddhagita, Claudine)
For more information how Lama’s pyjamas do it, listen to this talk by Claudine to the Triratna New Ventures group in Autumn 2013.
Ratnachuda writes from Triratna’s small but buzzing centre in Brixton Buddhist Centre, South London, where they’ve been celebrating their first Mitra Ceremonies into the wider Triratna Buddhist Community. He says - “Last month saw us here in Brixton celebrating four new mitras, Elena Blanco, Gitta Baum, Jill Thompson and Mirel Stambuk, all publicly making their commitment to the Triratna Sangha - plus a traditional ‘reaffirmation ceremony’ by Steve Hughes.
The evening was beautifully led by Amarapuspa, women’s mitra convenor for Triratna’s Brixton and Croydon centres. Three of the mitras had backgrounds in other countries - Croatia, Germany and Spain - which brought up resonances of how the Buddha Dharma transcends nationality. An added dimension to the ceremonies was the presence of Order Members, mitras and others who had been part of Utpala, the old ‘FWBO South London’ Buddhist Centre, from which our current sangha in Brixton has arisen. Amarapuspa commented there were five people present who had been present at her mitra ceremony in the mid 90’s and that Sthiracita had been one of her first teachers.
Sthiracitta’s introduction of Steve celebrated the close friendship they’d had for over twenty years, built by living together in two communities and working in Hockney’s restaurant; his words evoked a real sense of the beauty of spiritual friendship as taught by Sangharakshita. And Amarapuspa rejoiced how doing Triratna’s ‘Foundation Year study’ with the four new mitras had brought them into much deeper relationship and friendship together.
Windhorse:evolution is a UK-based giftware business aiming to work and trade ethically and make money for Buddhist and social projects around the world.
This is a dynamic manager level role assisting the Retail Director, Aryajaya, and the Retail Hub by providing top level administrative, organisational and commincations support for the smooth running of the Evolution chain. It is as much a communications role as it is organisational support. A driving license is essential. The job is based in the Uddiyana warehouse in Cambridge.
We welcome applications from people who have the following skills:
- Ability to communicate with a wide variety of people with differing needs
- Good planning and organising skills, able to co-ordinate events
- Excellent attention to detail
- Ability to work to deadlines and have good time-management skills
- Flexibility – able to take on a wide range of tasks
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Willingness to travel to shops occasionally to help out
Please note the position has a Genuine Occupational Requirement to be filled by a Buddhist.
Available as Support package or wages. To start in June 2013.
Interested? Please contact Dharmasiddhi at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)1223 868583.
Ritayush writes from Nagpur, heartland of the Buddhist revival in India, where Triratna’s Nagpur Buddhist Centre recently celebrated their very successful 2013 Buddha Festival. Due to the success of their past Festivals in 2011 and 2012 they were able to hold the Festival at the historic Deeksha Bhoomi, site of Ambedkar’s historic mass conversion to Buddhism in 1956. He writes -
“It is very important that these three Buddha Festivals were organized at the Deeksha Bhoomi, where the historic mass conversion to Buddhism was done by Bodhisattva Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on 14th October 1956. This event changed the course of the lives of millions of his followers all over India - and changed the political, social, religious &cultural scene of India. Buddhists here were very happy by the organization of the Festival. We experienced the high positive emotions & expressions by the thousands of people who witnessed the festivals. The Buddha Festival has given them opportunity to experience the rich art, culture & heritage of Buddhism & also to take the Dhamma seriously. We feel the festival has bridged the gap between different sections of the society.
Guests, artists & people from many states of India & other nations came to witness, perform & add beauty to the festival. Due to the direct telecast of all events on local ‘Lord Buddha TV’ television, millions of people watched it at their homes. Most of them wish to make their physical presence in next Buddha Festival. Our team is very satisfied by the success of three consecutive Buddha festivals. However we now feel the responsibility to continue & make it even better. On behalf of Nagpur Buddhist Centre I wish to express my gratitude towards all for their generous help, support & encouragement.
Namo Buddhay! Jai Bheem!”
Sanghanistha writes from Padmaloka, Triratna’s retreat centre in Norfolk and home of the European men’s ordination training process. They’re planning a one-year intensive - a course of retreats and other events open to men who’ve asked for ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order. He says -
“The course starts at Padmaloka with our Going for Refuge retreat at the beginning of July. After that we pack up our rucksacks and travel down to Devon to be part of Buddhafield until the beginning of October. We’ll be living the Buddhafield lifestyle for that time, outdoors, helping set up the conditions that support people to be able to engage with the Dharma. This will also include being involved with the Buddhafield Festival. After that we’ll change mode, still with Buddhafield, and take part in their 4 week Total Immersion Retreat, a largely silent meditation retreat and led by Paramananda, Padmadharini and Maitridevi.
We then return to Padmaloka, and from mid-October, until January 2014 take part in Padmaloka life and retreats. In January, the next phase of the course is at Guhyaloka in Spain for 4 weeks, on their working retreat: a spectacular venue for a retreat. After that its back to Padmaloka, and pick up with the life and retreats there until early Summer in 2014, when there is the possibility of doing a Karuna Door-Knocking Appeal: a spiritually challenging, fun and altruistic way to finish the year!”
For more information, please email them on email@example.com.