“It’s just gorgeous - the candlelit evenings in the rainbow tent with friends gathering, onion bhajis, chai and music”.
The Buddhafield East Café sells tea, vegan cakes and onion bhajis to raise money for Buddhist projects. The people working in the café get a ticket into the Buddhafield Festival, and they form a team-based right livelihood for a week - meditating, tuning in with each other each day and having fun together as they work. This Newsbyte captures the exuberance and abundance of the Café as work becomes the play of the Bodhisattva!
Watch the talks from the Buddhafield Festival
See BBC Report on the Buddhafield Festival (viewable only to those in the UK)
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We are delighted to announce that the following seven women received their Public Ordination at Adhisthana Retreat Centre on Sunday August 12th 2018.
Public Preceptor: Dayanandi
Maggie Muir becomes Hrdayaka
(Sanskrit: dot under the ‘r’ long last ‘a’)
Name meaning: “She who has a (kind) heart”
Westernised spelling: Hridayaka
Private Preceptor: Jayadevi
Sara Inkster becomes Moksavadini
(Sanskrit: dot under the ‘s’, long second ‘a’ long last ‘i’)
Name meaning: “She who speaks of liberation”
Westernised spelling: Mokshavadini
Private Preceptor: Jayadevi
Public Preceptor: Parami
Alyssa Fradenberg becomes Srisara
(Sanskrit: first ‘s’ pronounced sh, long ‘i’ and both long ‘a’s)
Name meaning: “She who radiates strength”
Westernised spelling: Shrisara
Private Preceptor: Padmadharini
Annette Clarke becomes Sraddhabha
(Sanskrit: first ‘s’ pronounced sh, long second and third ‘a’)
Name meaning: “She who has the light or splendour of faith”
Westernised spelling: Shraddhabha
Private Preceptor: Samantabhadri
Priscilla Mills becomes Vilasini
(Sanskrit: long ‘a’ and long last ‘i’)
Name meaning: “She who is shining or radiant (from the Dharma)”
Westernised spelling: Vilasini
Private Preceptor: Ratnavandana
Public Preceptor: Sanghadevi
Clare Moore becomes Kalyanadhi
(Sanskrit: long second ‘a’, dot under the ‘n’, long ‘i’)
Name meaning: “She who has the wisdom of beauty, goodness and truth”
Westernised spelling: Kalyanadhi
Private Preceptor: Kalyanasri
Ellen Hewitt becomes Vajrasri
(Sanskrit: ‘s’ pronounced sh, long ‘i’)
Name meaning: “She who has the radiance of the vajra”
Westernised spelling: Vajrashri
Private Preceptor: Ratnavandana
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes from Adhisthana, UK:
“Rain is falling at Adhisthana! Usually this would be nothing out of the ordinary, however it’s been nearly two months since we had any actual rain, having gone through one of the hottest sunny dry spells I’ve seen in many years. So, yes, the rain is falling and has been now for most of the last couple of days, long constant refreshing showers, which the gardens and plants are drinking in deeply, like a thirsty man filling his belly at the oasis.
Not that the sunshine has been unwelcome, Bhante has certainly enjoyed the warmer dry weather getting out into the garden most days either once or twice a day, in the morning or early evening, where he has been able to get some sense of the continuing work of landscaping the grounds.
Of course, Bhante has enjoyed another month of visitors and guests meeting with him and here follows the list from 1 July to 31 July:
Mahasraddha, Samacitta, Maniraja, Prasadacharin, Maitrisara, Nine Indian pilgrims, Saraha, Visuddhimati, Akasasuri, Suryagupta, Chris Blankendaal, Sinhendra, Ratnaghosha, Saravantu, Jnanadhara, Amalamati, Sanghanista, Subhadassi, Bodhilila, Sanghadhara, Pablo Sierra, Emma Sohlgren, Mirko Meyer, Rowan Tilly, Aryavacin, Dennis Jagestad, Veronica Toescu, David Tyfield, Zoe Pearson, Siladeva, Padmadhara, Jack Stephenson, Vidyadevi, Dharmavajri, Achalamuni, Grant Hilditch, Alexis Knight, Saddhanandi, Advayacitta, Vijayamuni, Helen Strong, Aryajaya and Vinod Gaikwad.
Earlier in the month Bhante made a trip to the hospital, not, as is usual for his eye tests and injection, but for a minor surgery to remove a small cyst on his neck. Although he had had the cyst for at least a decade or more his GP decided it was better to remove it. Thus it was removed during an outpatients’ appointment, and by all accounts is healing well.
Bhante’s recent interest and reading around science has born fruit in a small piece of writing entitled Science and Poetry, which is published here in Shabda and recently on The Buddhist Centre Online.
And finally towards the end of the month, a small retreat of some of the Order’s musicians was held here at Adhisthana during which they invited Bhante along to meet with them and then also treat him to a small piano and tenor recital, between them the two musicians performed settings of eight poems by Bhante, of which he very much appreciated the settings and the performance.
Nagapriya, the chairperson of the Cuernavaca Buddhist Centre, and also a member of the Spanish Translations Board, has recently published a short introduction to Buddhism called The Buddhist Way.
Nagapriya is the author of two other books, published by Windhorse Publications: Exploring Karma and Rebirth (2004) and Visions of Mahayana Buddhism (2009).
A new retreat centre practicing in the context of the Triratna Buddhist Community was inaugurated in June during a summer solstice ritual. Kalyanaloka, based in Brighton, held a special ritual, led by Subhadassi, chairperson of the nearby Brighton Buddhist Centre, which included a tea ceremony, a practice which is central to this retreat centre.
Kalyanaloka’s location is unusual for a retreat centre: it is situated on the outskirts of Brighton, about a thirty minute walk from the Brighton Buddhist Centre. The building was bought by a GFR Mitra, Paolo Maffei, who lives there. Paolo’s vision is for this space to aesthetically pleasing, holding that a beautiful environment can inspire people to behave ethically. In this spirit, tea ceremonies are an important dimension of Kalyanaloka: the shrine room doubles up as the tea room and Paolo believes that the ceremony is a type of meditation in itself.
Paolo was introduced to tea ceremonies by Prabhasvara (who passed away in February 2017). Prabhasvara studied with Tea Master, San Bao, in Thailand for two years before moving to Taiwan and spending a year studying ‘The Way of Tea’ with famous Tea Master, Wu De, author of several influential tea books. Paolo also studied with Wu De in Taiwan, learning the Chinese style of tea ceremonies - which is less formal than the Japanese style. The tea used in the ceremonies in Kalyanaloka comes from wild trees and tastes far more flavoursome than tea bought in a supermarket.
Kalyanaloka has hosted more than 30 volunteers and retreatants in the last year which has largely been focused on renovation work. From April 2019 there will be a more intense program of residential meditation, tea ceremonies, Buddhist retreats and day events for the Brighton Sangha. Events are run on a dana (give what you can) basis.
To find out more sign up to the mailing list on Kalyanaloka’s website.
Following on from his two best-selling books, Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Insight and Perspectives on Satipatthana, in this book, Anālayo provides inspiration and guidance to all meditators, of any tradition and any level of experience. Each of the twenty-four chapters concludes with suggestions to support meditative practice.
An eminently pragmatic discussion of how to put these teachings into practice. Anālayo has developed a simple and straightforward map of practice instructions encompassing all four satipatthānas, which build upon one another in a coherent and comprehensive path leading to the final goal. - Joseph Goldstein, from the Foreword
Windhorse Publications have already received an order for 100 copies of this book from the Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Centre in California, where Anālayo will be running an day retreat based around his recent book, A Meditator’s Life of the Buddha.
Find Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide as a paperback or eBook from on the Windhorse website.
This year the BBC visited Triratna’s UK Buddhafield Festival to make an extremely positive five-minute report for their Sunday Morning Live programme, including an interview with Lokabandhu.
Watch the report on the BBC iPlayer
(Sorry this is only accessible to viewers in the UK)
The report starts at 34:27 minutes.
It is now almost a year since the Ulex Project - an education centre which offers capacity building and training for social movements across Europe - was launched by Ecodharma. Located about 40 kilometres from Ecodharma Retreat Centre, at the edge of a Catalonian village in Spain, Ulex is more physically accessible than the wilder, more mountainous Ecodharma. The building, a renovated farmhouse, can accommodate about 15 to 16 people as well as 2 to 4 facilitators.
We take a look and see how it has been going this first year.
What is the Ulex Project?
The name ‘Ulex’ comes from the Latin word for ‘gorse’ - “a thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience.” While Ecodharma offers courses, events and retreats which “support the realisation of our human potential and the development of an ecological consciousness honouring our mutual belonging within the web of life” making explicit reference to the Dharma, Ulex offers a more secular space, while also being particularly aimed at helping European social movements to develop.
Ulex are currently developing new work to support resilience for activists working in countries which are suffering from the push-back from the far right against progressive values (focusing particularly on Hungary, Poland and Turkey). Their general social movement training is currently working directly with partner organisations in most European countries.
Ulex’s work ranges from understanding inclusion and diversity to movement level strategic thinking as well as regenerative activism. Sustainable activism and managing burnout have increasingly become an important part of capacity development for activists, and Ulex are on the forefront of designing appropriate courses based on identified needs for activists.
The Flavour of the Courses
The Ulex training centre’s programme embodies a three tiered approach in all its training:
The team who run the Ulex Project are all Dharma practitioners (though not all from the same Buddhist tradition) who have a strong collective meditation practice and many of whom worked in Ecodharma previously. Having found that ‘eco’ excludes activists not directly involved in tackling the ecological crisis, and ‘dharma’ excludes those who are not practising Buddhists, the Ulex Project aims to find a way to navigate between this language, and offer Dharmically inspired content to a broader audience.
As part of their courses views are interrogated - particularly those that affect the ability to advocate for justice. Mindfulness and references to the Brahma Viharas are also included, exploring how to resource participants, both personally and in their groups, to carry on their work.
The First Year
Ali Tamit (a facilitator with ‘Resist and Renew’ and a member of End Deportations and Plane Stupid) recently attended a Sustaining Resistance workshop in April / May. ‘Sustaining Resistance’ is a training for trainers to support activist-trainers to develop and deliver trainings on sustainable, grassroots activism. This was the third Sustaining Resistance training for trainers; previous iterations have inspired and supported work across Europe.
Ali wrote in a recent article about the course:-
The first year’s programme at Ulex has finished with a training called Thinking Diversity Radically. The year has been a big success, attracting more than 200 people from more than 20 countries, with more courses aimed at helping the development of pan-European, sustainable social movements, lined up for this autumn.
The International Practice week will take place from the 22nd to 29th September. It will be a world-wide practice week, including all Centres and Triratna Practice Groups wherever they are, on the theme of ‘Turning Arrows into Flowers’, inspired by Subhuti’s teaching on the 2017 Order retreat at Bodhgaya.
The image that sums up and symbolises the theme of this urban retreat is that of the Buddha on the cusp of his Enlightenment, at the point when Mara attacks him with all he’s got …… but the Buddha does not react with anger, hatred, defensiveness but instead with sits in complete peace and openness: the arrows, abuse and weapons hurled at him drift down around him as soft and harmless flower petals.
In essence, the message to be communicated is: this is what we need to do all the time. The constant practice is:-
- No blame, or defence, or reactivity, complaining;
- Turning towards whatever the challenge is with openness, interest and kind awareness;
- Developing the attitude when faced with challenges “great – here’s is an opportunity for practice!”.
The Dharmic teaching underpinning this are The Seven Mind Training verses as laid out by Atisha; ‘taking adversity onto the path’.
Since this theme for the International Practice Week was suggested and agreed in 2017, the Eight Verses for Training the Mind have of course been popping up everywhere! Including as study material for the International Council Meeting in February and the European Chairs Meeting in July.
Resources and support
Yashobodhi is recording 7 short talks especially for this occasion; these will be available in due course. In the meantime, you can listen to a number of talks related to the theme:
There is also a Guide on ‘How to Run an Urban Retreat’ in your Centre or Triratna group - with suggestions for first and last day retreat, etc.
Hungarian gypsies, known as the Roma community, have a deep connection with the Dalits of India. Both communities are segregated, unable to get access to education or employment, and are treated like lesser humans. Just like the Indian Dharma Revolution gave a voice to the Dalits and inspired a mass human rights movement, the Hungarian branch of the Triratna Community has developed the ‘Jai Bhim Network’. The Dr Ambedkar High School in Miskolc, Northern Hungary, is run by the Jai Bhim Network, which is the most important and effective Gypsy-led organisation in Hungary.
The school has been established specifically to help young Gypsies complete High School education so that some will go on to study at university. The great majority of Gypsies drop out of school as soon as they can because the schools generally are not welcoming to them and their background does not support education – for instance, many village Gypsy children have very little idea of where they are geographically or of their place in immediate history. The Dr Ambedkar High School, inspired by the upliftment of Dalits in India through education, offers a unique opportunity to 150 students who would otherwise join the ranks of the unemployed: many girls getting pregnant in their teens and many boys going to jail. The school is a beacon of hope for the 600,000 Gypsies in Hungary, and indeed all over Central Europe. It is especially inspiring because it is the most important and effective organisation working for Gypsy development that is led and controlled by Gypsies.
All that is now under threat. The Hungarian Government has instituted a policy of offering all unemployed over 16 years of age the opportunity to receive €200 per month for very low level, so called, ‘Community Work’, which is merely nominal and without prospects: road sweeping, municipal gardening and so on. If they go to ‘Vocational School’, learning essentially low skill, low pay trades such as being a shop assistant or waiter/waitress they can also receive €200 per month. Since the alternative is nothing, many poor people, most of them Gypsies, do take up either Community Work or Vocational School.
Since no such salary is available for those who continue their education, when poor students reach the school leaving age of 16 they have a very strong inducement to become Community Workers and receive this payment, especially because their families are already impoverished.
Two years ago, the Dr Ambedkar High School had 150 students: now it has less than fifty. Two thirds or more of Gypsy youth all over Hungary have abandoned secondary education, more or less before it has begun. They will have no way out of the poverty trap, since education is more or less the only possible escape route. Knowingly or not, the Government is creating a permanent uneducated, welfare–dependent underclass, which is easily controlled by the power to remove the €200 payment for ‘Community Work’.
The Dr Ambedkar High School receives government funding if it has a minimum of 150 students, a figure it is now well below. Unless more students can be induced to continue, the school will have to close before the new school year in September.
Keeping this school alive is of the greatest importance for the future of Gypsies in Hungary – and indeed for those in neighbouring countries, where similar social policies are being pursued by governments that see Hungary as showing the way forward. Unless there are educated and active Gypsy leaders there will simply be a continuance and deepening of a Gypsy underclass, whose birth rates are far higher than the general population. There is a massive problem developing in the heart of Europe.
Though the Hungarian government has been made aware of the consequences of its policies, there has been no change made. In order to keep the school running the Jai Bhim Network proposes to offer students an initial monthly scholarship of €100. If students show by their attendance and conduct that they are making some genuine effort, this will be increased to €200 or more. The hope is that this will cause the government to review its policies and provide funding for poor students to remain in education. About €250,000 will be required if there are to be enough students to keep the school open.
Subhuti, who has been making regular visits to encourage the community over the years, now writes an appeal for assistance on behalf of the Jai Bhim Network:-
“We are seeking to bring political influence to bear by various means and would value any help in doing so, whether within Hungary or from the European Union, etc.
We believe that Buddhists all over the world will wish to help this remarkable work, carried out by fellow Buddhists. We need money and we need help in gaining access to the sums that are required from government and non–government institutions.
We are looking, therefore, for someone to take the lead in raising the money to offer the scholarships; given the sums involved, ideally it would be someone with experience of fundraising. The position would, initially, be on a voluntary basis.
However, the situation in Hungary highlights that the Triratna community does not have a charity helping the destitute outside of India. We believe fundraising for the Dr Ambedkar High School could be the genesis of a new Triratna charity that works with disadvantaged Buddhists throughout the world, such as the Chakmas of Bangladesh, or indeed those oppressed by Buddhists, as in the recent Rohingya crisis. We would like to see such a charity established as soon as possible and invite anyone interested in helping to establish it to contact us.
If you are interested in this work, or feel you can help in any way, please contact me at subhuti [at] gmail.com”.
Future Dharma has also been working to help improve the situation in Hungary. Buddhist Romas are few and far between, isolated, and lacking a Sangha which makes it incredibly difficult to cultivate friendships. This year, gifts from FutureDharma donors allowed four Hungarians to fly to Holland, encouraging international bonds of Kalyana Mitrata to deepen. Tibor, headmaster at Dr. Ambedkar High School, Janos, President of the Jai Bhim Network, Laci and Beno joined Maitriveer-Nagarjuna (India) and Arthakusalin (Belgium) who led the retreat.
Watch a short video about the impact of this retreat
Support Future Dharma’s work
Read more about Gypsies in Hungary
Sthanashraddha is Bhante’s secretary. He writes from Adhisthana, UK:
“Coming to the end of June and having passed the summer solstice, summer has indeed been evident here at Adhisthana. Our rich clay soil is drying out and cracks are opening up in the flower beds here and there. The roses are at their peak and the occasional plant hasn’t made it through the hot dry days.
In the early half of June the Adhisthana resident communities had their summer at home days, time for us to all return from all over the map and to spend time together without any retreats or meetings talking place here. Towards the end of the days Bhante joined the Sangha here for afternoon tea and cake. There have been a few such tea parties recently where Bhante can come along and spend informal time with a group of people not engaging with more than a small table of people directly but nonetheless able to get a sense of the larger gathering. One of these occasions was on the German speaking retreat that was held here, organised by Sanghadarsini for German speakers from Germany and elsewhere (UK).
Of course Bhante has been meeting with people as usual and here is the list of them from 1 June to 30 June:
Viryadevi, Kath Lloyd, Alice Malpass, Alison Mendoza, Michael Banther, Mike Smith, Di Fan, Jnanaruci, Abigail Lee, Robert Ellis, Gus Miller, Candradasa, Shraddhadarani, Jinamati, Nityabandhu, Vimalanandi, Piotr Janikowski, Muditadevi, Dharmanatha, Kalyanaprabha, Tina Nevans, Dharmamodini, Satyamegha, Dharmasetu, Dayamala, Jnanaka, Suryaprabha, Saddhaloka, Reg Johanson and Suryadarshini.
At the meeting with Gus Miller, who specially travelled over from London, he interviewed Bhante about the London Buddhist Centre and some of his early memories of it.
Bhante has also continued his exploration of science through reading. Having listened to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time for a second time, he listened to Carlo Rovelli’s Reality Is Not What It Seems, is presently going through it for a second time, and is waiting to start a gift of an audiobook of another of Rovelli’s titles, The Order of Time.
Running parallel to this, and maybe by way of balance, in the evenings Bhante has sat after dinner with one of his household and they have selected one of Bhante’s poems at random, read it to him and then they have discussed it. Sometimes just a little and at other times with more to be said.
With metta, Sthanashraddha.”
Suryavana is the new retreat Centre for the Valencia Buddhist Centre. One possible translation of Suryavana is rather apt description ‘the sun’s dwelling place’. The Valencia Buddhist Centre bought a retreat centre of their own to cater for their gradually expanding retreat programme: increasing from three to four retreats a year to approximately twenty to twenty five retreats annually.
This Newsbyte explores the importance of going on retreat as a means of coming in touch with yourself, the earth and nature - with some beautiful footage of the lands around the retreat centre - and the hopes for the future of Suryavana.
Practicing together is the best way to build this place (Hadayasiri)
Olga Rosenberg and Blanca García are two Mitras from Cuernavaca who have been running a project for underprivileged Mexican children and telling them stories as well as introducing meditation.
Earthquake in Cuernavaca
In September 2017 an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale struck in Mexico, with its epicentre in Cuernavaca. This devastated the local community, with houses being damaged and schools destroyed. It had a particularly destructive impact on lower income families.
Olga and Blanca, both involved in the Cuernavaca Buddhist Centre and parents themselves, wanted to help. Olga is Civil Ceremony celebrant (overseeing weddings and baby-naming ceremonies) with two children who are four and seven and Blanca is a lecturer in Cuernavaca University, also with two children of eight and fourteen years of age. They originally had been in dialogue with each other about setting up a meditation class for children in the Cuernavaca Buddhist Centre, however, when that did not work out due to lack of numbers, they decided to help the children who had been affected by the earthquake. Their initial idea was to go the shelters where those children were living and give them an opportunity to develop awareness.
Linking in with the organisation, Caminando Unidos, which helps children in need, they began their story-telling project in February this year.
Meditation and Story-Telling
Olga and Blanca started this endeavour with no expectations but were surprised that the children they worked with - approximately eight to ten children between the ages of eight and twelve - were very excited about the project. Most had never heard of meditation and were curious to know more.
The typical format of a session starts with some body stretches (as they begin after breakfast) and involves a short meditation - Metta Bhavana, Mindfulness of Breathing or visualisation, all adapted to be suitable for young children. They noticed over the months of working with the children that their attention span developed so that, by the end, there were able to stay engaged with the practice for ten minutes at a time. When the children find it hard to meditate Olga and Blanca encourage them to try to sit still “with joy”.
After the meditation, one of the Mitras tells a story. Either a Buddhist story (such as that of Kisagotami or Angulimala) or a story with values of love and compassion. The Mexico Buddhist Centre have helped them by sharing resources from a children’s group they run in their Centre. Olga has also begun sharing some stories that she has written with the children. The story-telling is followed by a chance for reflection and then the children are invited to respond in a creative manner: either through painting, listening to music or some other artistic means. The session finishes with a simplified version of the transference of merit.
The Caminando Unidos teachers have reported that they have seen positive changes in the children: they are calmer and are better able to concentrate on their school work. One of the moments that have given Olga and Blanca great heart is hearing (through the Caminando Unidos’ ’guide’ Fernando who supports them during their sessions) that one or two of the children have started meditating outside of the sessions - a clear indication that they understand the benefits of meditation for themselves.
The project has taken a break for the summer months after running for five months, with a one hour session with the children each week. Olga and Blanca plan to resume the project in September and hope, with the help of others in the Sangha, that, in the future, they might be able to work with older children too - between 12 and 17 years - who would also benefit.
Many of the children involved in the project are Catholic so the aim is simply to introduce meditation and illustrate universal values through the stories. Olga hopes that this project might inspire others to do something similar. Both firmly believe that helping children in this way benefits society as a whole by enabling them to get in touch with their emotions, thoughts and their minds.
Watch a video about the project (in Spanish)
If you know any Buddhist stories or resources that would be suitable for children do get in touch with Olga (olgacuellar [at] gmail.com) or Blanca (ines [at] ibt.unam.mx).
Lama’s Pyjamas: More Than Just A Shop
Catherine is one of Lama’s Pyjamas’ regular customers: she comes in most days and spends about an hour and a half in the shop, chatting to staff and buying some second hand clothes and goods. She has Alzheimers and is sometimes a bit lonely. Abhayanandi, the manager of Lama’s Pyjamas, has told her she does not need to buy anything in order to spend time there but Catherine likes shopping and she enjoys a chance to connect with others. And in return the staff care about her - they worry about her if a few days go by where she hasn’t turned up and have even contacted Age Concern (a charity that assists older people in living independently) to ensure that they can support Catherine in the best way they can.
Lama’s Pyjamas is not a regular shop. It is a Team-Based Right Livelihood (TBRL) - “the charity shop of the London Buddhist Centre”.
Team Based Right Livelihood: A Blueprint for a New World
Right Livelihood is an aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha encouraged his followers to engage in economic activities that did not cause harm and are ethically positive. Team-Based Right Livelihood is an attempt to take this further and, working with others who share the same vision, embody a new vision of work as an active and deeply relevant Buddhist practice.
Sangharakshita has long envisaged TBRL as part of a reconsideration of societal structures that can help people grow: Read or listen to ‘A Blueprint for a New World’
Out in the World
Since the closure in 2015 of Windhorse Trading (Triratna’s largest Team-Based Right Livelihood enterprise to date) after 35 years of business selling giftware, there are not as many team-based right livelihoods around the Triratna Mandala these days. Lama’s Pyjamas is one bright star in the Triratna TBRL firmament. It was set up eight years ago by Abhayanandi and Padmalila as a women’s team, very much motivated towards helping raise money to support the Dharma. In 2017 it raised approximately £61,000 in dana, which went towards supporting the activities in the London Buddhist Centre.
The shop is situated in the East End of London in a diverse area where customers range from those with little money to hipsters to Muslims who pop in after Friday services in the Mosque next door! While the shop is clearly a Buddhist run business (as proclaimed on the sign over the door) it is open to all.
Listen to Abhayanandi talking about Right Livelihood and Lama’s Pyjamas.
There are four full-time staff, a couple of casual workers and a pool of two to three volunteers. Sarah and Nikki are part of the Lama’s team. Nikki was previously a hair dresser and Sarah has a PhD and worked in sustainable energy. Nikki was a Mitra for a number of years and while committed, felt like she had gotten a bit stuck. Due to her work at the time she was not able to make it to the London Buddhist Centre very often. Now working in Lama’s she has a strong context of spiritual friendship which has made her feel more plugged into the Sangha. She enjoys the work - particularly opening recently received donations of clothes, as it allows her to imaginatively connect with what the donor’s life must be like.
Sarah came to Lama’s Pyjamas after finishing a Dharma Life course in Adhisthana. The intense conditions for practice there over several months made her realise that “crucial situations” like these help rapid transformation; and when the course ended she looked for a similarly focussed set of conditions that would allow her to live a Dharma life, a life of service, as fully as possible.
Caught Not Taught: Working on Support
Team-based right livelihood is a dimension of the ‘New Society’ that Sangharakshita proposed and which we try to bring to life as individuals and as a community. Livelihood is clearly an important area of consideration in this as it takes up such a significant amount of daily life and most people need to engage in employment of some kind.
Staff working in Lama’s Pyjamas work on support: that is, the principle of giving what you can and taking what you need. As part of their work package they have a retreat allowance and contribution towards a pension. Despite the fact that this package is perhaps somewhat frugal by normal standards, Sarah says that she has a sense of abundance working there. She enjoys the simplicity of what she is doing and that in fact, “everything I need comes into the shop!”
Space to Create: Opportunities for Creativity
And while they are often asked about whether it is ‘boring’ to work in a shop, there is plenty of scope for creativity and to bring their own skills and talents into play. Recently Nikki was involved in the re-branding and signage project, which appealed to her creative side, and, although hard work and intensive, was an opportunity to develop. Similarly, Sarah recently had her inner project manager needs sated by the chance to create a system on Microsoft Excel!
Exploring Team-Based Right Livelihood
On the 8th July Lama’s Pyjamas are holding a workshop (on a donation basis) in the London Buddhist Centre from 10am to 5pm exploring what the Buddha says about work and Triratna’s way of translating this into practice. The event will involve personal talks, conversation cafe, and will finish with a gratitude ritual. All are welcome!
If interested contact Lamaspyjamas [at] lbc.org.uk for more information.
Mindful Carers Limited is a very small company with a project as vast as the ocean - to bring more Buddhist values into long-term care (LTC). Co-Director, Dayasara has worked for many years in nursing and nurse education; his final paid job was in dementia care and he continues to volunteer in this field. Dayasara would like to see a residential care home run on Buddhist principles, but the current social care funding situation makes that rather challenging to achieve, so at the moment his particular focus is on frail, older people and others who need support to live
Dayasara writes about this project:-
I became a Buddhist and was ordained in 2001. Around that time I got to know an older Order Member who was in failing health, and visited him at home, then in hospital, and finally in two care homes.
Our friendship prompted reflection on the particular needs of Buddhists in LTC, and I did a PhD on this. In parallel I argue that the care sector provides many opportunities for Buddhist work projects (Team Based Right Livelihoods).
But where to start? Two years ago I was approached by a mitra friend who works in care, the company name emerged, and suddenly we were Co-Directors. Our initial business plan didn’t progress, but then I did some home support work with a relative of a Sangha friend. That came to an end when the lady was admitted to a care home. However, the company continues with a quarterly newsletter, and I often visit Buddhists who have care needs.
A “Buddhist atmosphere” is difficult to define but, I think, easy to recognise. I now feel that the best care context to develop this would be a care home. This would be especially sensitive to the needs of Buddhists and those of Buddhist sympathy, whilst being open to all who wish to be there. Quite a high proportion of people die in care homes, so there could be an overlap with Buddhist involvement in hospice care.
That is some distance away. I am 64 and due to my own health issues I haven’t driven for 3 years. It may turn out that a previous venture, Buddhist Care Network may be more suitable for promoting interest and
sharing information on all forms of LTC and the Buddhist values involved with them.
For more information about this project or to subscribe to the ‘Mindful Carers’ newsletter email Dayasara at dayasara2012 [at] gmail.com.