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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Urban Retreat piloted on Facebook

June sees the first-ever International FWBO Urban Retreat, in which some 40 FWBO and TBMSG Centres around the world will be taking part. It's open to all, and all readers of FWBO News are warmly invited to take part.

The retreat has a special website, at , on which there's links to the participating FWBO Centres and where you can find basic information on what an Urban Retreat is. We are expecting well over 1,000 people world-wide to participate.

If you don't live near a Centre, that's not a problem, as there is also an on-line version of the retreat. This will start from the FWBO's page on Facebook  and lead participants through a series of day 'Events', each containing a full programme of Dharma and meditation material. Already over 150 people have signed up.

If you're interested in the on-line version, click the link above (you may need to log in to Facebook), go to the FWBO page, become a 'Fan', and look for the Events in the left-hand column… You'll see an 'Urban Retreat' event, and if you register as attending it we'll keep you fully-informed as it unfolds.

This will be the first time we've held a 'virtual retreat' and this week a group of 10 volunteers have been piloting it: in fact the pilot retreat ends today - it's gone very well and a lot has been learned about how to make it 'flow'.

To wet your appetite, here's a retreatants diary from an Urban Retreat held at the LBC in London earlier this year, held to mark their 30th anniversary -

Notes on the LBC Urban Retreat

"I thought Sunday would be the highlight with Sangharakshita being interviewed & unveiling the triptych but I was wrong, everyday was a highlight in its own way, each as special as the last.

"Sunday morning we set our intentions for the retreat. After sharing a picnic lunch in the new Breathworks space in the LBC's basement, we head upstairs for Sangharakshita's interview, he talks about the early days - fascinating! We then troop back down for the grand unveiling of the 12ft triptych. It is breathtaking.

"Monday morning my flatmate leaves for the daily morning meditation at the LBC while I head off to work chanting a manta as I go. This is to be our routine for the week. Monday evening Parami gives a rousing talk during which I feel rather envious of the people who helped make this all happen back in 1978 - it seems a very passionate and idealistic time.

"Tuesday night Subhadramati gives a moving account of what it means to go for refuge, five order members speak about the point in their lives at which they realised that their going for refuge had been effective. I love the talks on retreats and hearing of peoples own personal experiences - I come away with something from every speaker, feeling very inspired.

"Wednesday night the 'circle of friendship' talks are kick started by Maitreyabandhu giving a very funny account of the difficult start to his friendship with J---. My friend A---- and I have been thinking about starting a new community and the talks of friendship and community life confirm that this is definitely something we want to pursue. A---- and I both give a talk, I feel nervous but enjoy the experience of sharing the joys of our friendship with everybody in the room. I love her talk which is funny and all about me.

"On Thursday the theme is team based right livelihood, Maria who has taken over the management of the Wild Cherry symbolically lights a candle from Padmasri, who has just told us about the early days of the Cherry and Priyadaka lights a candle from Ratnaguna's candle I have a mental image of Ratnaguna driving around in a van with the side door open selling his wares out of open-topped sacks at markets - I sincerely hope the two businesses survive these tough times. The evening ends on a positive note with Claire handing over a donation from Evolution's profits to the LBC. The full moon puja follows.

"On Friday evening Atula calls up the forces of darkness and later that night there is a fire in the doorway which is to be used as the new entrance - coincidence?

"On Saturday we spent the day reflecting on the retreat and the commitments we made at the start of the week. What an incredible experience this week has been. A huge big Sadhu to Subhadramati and Maitreyabandhu for leading it."

The International FWBO Urban Retreat will run from June 20-27th. If you want to take part, please contact your local FWBO Centre via the retreat website, or register for the on-line version via the FWBO's Facebook page.

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