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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Right Livelihood - Dharma practice in the world of work

A weekend exploring team-based right livelihood (TBRL) took place in early September. It was organised under the auspices of the European Chairs Assembly (ECA) – the collective body of all chairmen and women of FWBO projects across Europe. The ECA has particularly wanted to support TBRL and look at how to make it more attractive and possible for people to participate, particularly given the thirty or more yeaers that have passed since the FWBO launched its first TBRL projects back in the more cooperatively-minded 1970s.

About 45 people (Order members and mitras) met at Bilberry Hill on the outskirts of Birmingham. There was a wide range of centres and TBRL projects represented, as well as quite a few people who had not previously worked in TBRL, but were interested to find out more. It was a busy, full weekend - not much time to go gathering bilberries on the nearby Lickey Hills!

After arriving, those present went swiftly into the four-stage process of ‘appreciative enquiry’ that was to take up most of the weekend. Dhammaloka ably facilitated this, with Vajramudita from Manchester and Vajragupta from the FWBO Development Team providing support and back up from the wings. People’s best experiences of work in the past were shared as a way of ‘discovering’ the underlying ideals and inspiration, so creating a positive basis from which to explore TBRL. Vajragupta, who organised the weekend commented: “I was struck by everyone’s full engagement with the ‘appreciative enquiry’ process, and impressed by the ideas people came up with.”

By the end of the weekend there were a number of people going away to work on business plans for potential new businesses, a group planning to stay in touch and explore developing a ‘right livelihood network’ for those not in TBRL, plus many other ideas for people’s own individual or team-based practice of right livelihood, as well as suggestions for the Chairs Meeting and Development Team.

In the midst of all this, there was an inspiring presentation from Ratnaguna about the work and development of
Breathworks plus an excellent, comprehensive overview of traditional and FWBO teachings on right livelihood, given in a talk by Ratnaprabha entitled ‘Working Together’.
The consensus seemed to be that it had been a worthwhile event. People enjoyed the appreciative enquiry process and the ‘content’ it had generated. There was less confidence enough definite ‘outcomes’ had been produced, perhaps unsurprisingly considering we’d only met for one weekend. There was general enthusiasm for future weekends exploring TBRL, with more inspirational talks and the opportunity to explore issues in more detail.

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