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Saturday, February 17, 2007

FWBO (Europe) Chairs Assembly report Feb 2007

Emerging strategy in the FWBO

The European Chairs Assembly consists of all Chairmen/women from European FWBO Centres and our movement-wide businesses, plus some members of the FWBO Development Team and a few others (eg representatives from centres without Chairs). 34 of us met from January 5-12 at Vimaladhatu, the FWBO's German retreat centre near Essen.

The meeting covered a lot of ground, the biggest single topic being a three-day enquiry into strategic priorities at this time for at least that part of the FWBO covered by the European Chairs Assembly. Those present arrived at a list of six headings, each of which was ‘worked up’ to some extent with a plan formulated for follow-ups. It is hoped that by our next meeting in July each will have ‘project plans’ ready for presentation and subsequent action. The six headings were –
  • Creating a clear, progressive, and complete framework of practice, widely shared, taught, and translated.
  • Understanding Sangharakshita's vision of the Dharma more deeply and communicating it more effectively.
  • Resourcing people to be Preceptors, Teachers, Kalyana Mitras and Mentors.
  • Making Team-Based Right Livelihood more attractive.
  • Telling the story/history of our recent 'troubles', in a way that fosters understanding and confidence.
  • Building a virtual (on-line) Buddhist centre, building on the many internet resources we already have.
Many other areas were suggested - the above list is certainly not intended to be exclusive. It was noted that these are not our priorities for evermore, rather, they are those the European Chairs wish to focus on for the next few years.

Besides the strategy process, the meeting heard from
Dhammarati, giving an account of his liaison work; it also met with Kamalashila for a general discussion on meditation. Viryabodhi presented photographs from the new Swedish retreat centre (very impressive!) and Paramabandhu showed the LBC’s movie ‘Lotus in the City’; as did Manjuka Karuna’s new recruitment/training video ‘On the Threshold’.

There were a series of presentations on the different approaches different FWBO centres have taken to inviting (or not inviting) outside teachers to teach at their centres; also a meeting of all the retreat centre chairs to review the success of ‘’, which has become a very successful vehicle for advertising our eight UK retreat centres.

There was a ‘business meeting’ which among other things gave Lokabandhu the go-ahead to launch the ‘Order Survey’; and the ever-popular ‘ten-minute talks’, though less of these than usual due to widespread illness among those present, and finally the usual space for meditation, puja, walks and talks.

In general it was an excellent meeting, and the clarification of strategic priorities was felt to be an important step towards the Chairs really starting to consider how the resources available to them could most effectively be used in their sphere of responsibility, ie the European institutions of the FWBO. The next meeting will be held in early August, just before the biannual Order Convention.

These notes by Lokabandhu, January 2007.

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