free counters

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Report from Chairs meeting at Dhanakosa, January 2008

Last month some 40 Chairmen and Chairwomen from most of the FWBO’s European Centres gathered at Dhanakosa for the twice-yearly week-long meeting of the European Chairs Assembly. The meeting is a place where those taking responsibility for our Buddhist centres can come together for practice and friendship, besides discussing a very wide range of topics. This report, by Lokabandhu of the FWBO Development Team, aims to give a flavour of the meeting and to note some of the topics discussed.

To begin with, there were a good number of people to say farewell to, and an equal number of ‘hellos’. It’s a tradition of the meeting to give both these a good deal of time so that people can be properly welcomed when they arrive and properly rejoiced-in when they leave. It was noteworthy that six of the seven new faces at the meeting were women; the present overall ratio among the Chairs is approx 2:1 men:women. As usual, most of the FWBO Development Team, who are employed by the European Chairs Assembly, were also there.

The meeting got off to an adventurous start due to snowstorms: the coach from Glasgow was not willing to risk the last few miles along the lochside in the dark and we had to be ferried into Dhanakosa in a series of cars.

The topics covered in the many discussions included –

A thought-provoking paper by Dhammarati with his thoughts on how to ensure coherence across the many facets of the F/WBO. He has posted this on his blog.

The need for us to find ways of telling our ‘story’ in ways that were open and did justice to the multi-facetted nature of our history. As part of this it was agreed to commission a fairly short pamphlet covering the main areas, specifically including links to other sources for those who wanted more detail. Many of these are already on-line at FWBO Discussion.

A progress report on the FWBO International Retreat, coming up this May 22-26th. This is an ambitious new venture to replace FWBO Day, its looking good so far.

The proposed ‘Virtual Buddhist Centre’ was mentioned but not discussed in much detail, it was agreed instead to conduct a more wide-ranging review of our main websites and how they could be better coordinated – there are now over 300 different FWBO sites! Click here for an early (and now discarded) prototype, it does however illustrate some of the breadth of sites available.

A workshop on Team-Based Right Livelihood, highlighting in particular people’s expressed needs for (i) adequate support and long-term financial security, (ii) ongoing training and learning, and (iii) work as practice; as part of it we were led through a much-appreciated self-assessment of our own training needs. See the excellent resources on the FWBO Centre Support website here.

The lack of youth at our centres was discussed: according to the Order Address List,) there are now only 4 Order Members outside of India under 30! Click here for some graphic charts from the Order Survey illustrating this. In November we will host a weekend of ‘interested parties’ later in the year to explore ideas to address this; please contact FWBO News if you would like to be kept informed of this.
Results from the Order Survey itself were made available, click here to access them.

Last but not least there were centre presentations by Glasgow and Newcastle; these are a regular feature of the meeting and are always fascinating glimpses into the past and into the nitty-gritty heroism involved in taking the Dharma to a new city. Glasgow’s was particularly interesting due to the long history of the Glasgow Buddhist Centre – we were, among other things, treated to a rare slide of an Upasikaa’s red kesa!

Labels: ,