Monday, December 31, 2007

FWBO News in 2007 - the best and the rest...

During 2007, FWBO News published a total of 204 news pieces covering a wide range of events across the FWBO and TBMSG (as we’re known in India). On this, the last day of the year, it seemed appropriate to celebrate that – well done us! We also wanted to mention just some of the best stories we never managed to cover over the year. Sometimes these simply didn’t get a mention at all, and sometimes they did, but not the emphasis they deserved. It was a rich year for us in many ways. Read on…!

July saw nine women being ordained at our Hsuan Tsang retreat centre in India, five by Jnanasuri, an Indian woman Dharmacharini. It was reported at the time, but its proper significance hardly drawn out - we believe this marks the first ordination of Indian women by Indian women in India for very many years, possibly the first time ever. Sadhu Jnanasuri!

There are thriving FWBO centres in Mexico, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and San Francisco – among other places – but we were unable to extract any actual ‘news’ from any of them. Perhaps we’ll be more lucky in 2008! Likewise our smaller centres in Estonia and Norway. We’d have included FWBO Poland as well, but we now have a report from them that’s planned to be the first or second news pieces of the new year. Watch this space! And check our links page for all their websites.

As well as running our city centres and retreat centres, the 1,500 members of the Western Buddhist Order are active in a great many different fields. Most, if not all, have chosen livelihoods that directly express their ideals in one way or another. We’d have liked to present more features on Order Members doing prison work, also those working with NVC (non-violent communication), mediation, and the very successful carers’ retreats, plus recent developments in the areas of meditation and chronic pain, depression, addiction, and relapse prevention. Also, a number of Order Members are on, or are preparing to undertake, long retreats – and a far larger number are getting married and having children. Both very fertile areas for Dharma practice, of course! Perhaps related to the latter is a renewed interest in community living, but specifically in exploring new patterns to the traditional FWBO single-sex community. Ty Brethyn in Wales, a family community founded by Order Members from Buddhafield North, is the first to actually come into existence, but several others are on the drawing board – the most advanced probably being the Bodhi Eco-Project in Scotland.

2007 also saw the first major survey of the Order for many years, something which illustrated very graphically the increasing diversity of the Order. Results are still being digested, but we hope to present some of them here in due course. Among many other things the survey showed the continued move away from communal living and cooperative working, which were both such a feature of the early FWBO. Indeed, the survey estimated that today only some 20% of the Order are employed by FWBO institutions and only about 30% living in FWBO communities. Both Windhorse Publications and Windhorse:Evolution have undergone major changes over the past year, we’d have liked to tell you more about these too. Happily, the Order as a whole continues to grow almost exponentially, with some 1,500 members and well over 1,000 men and women preparing for ordination in many countries.

Sangharakshita, founder of the FWBO, also seemed underrepresented during the year, although he was mentioned in six stories. 2007 was his most active year for some years, and sadly we were unable to report on many of his travels – for instance, his first visit to the Buddhafield Festival.

Looking ahead to 2008, high on the list must be the FWBO’s International Retreat, to be held at Taraloka in late May. Check the latest details or in other languages. We’re also developing plans for a ‘virtual buddhist centre’, an on-line version of what you’d hope to find at a ‘real’ Buddhist centre. In fact, we’d like to hear from people who’d be interested in helping us develop this – please email us if you’re interested. Readership of FWBO News also seemed to go up and up, though there’s still plenty of people across the F/WBO who don’t read it regularly. Spread the word! In the past two months it has attracted visitors from 77 countries – welcome to you all.

And finally - best wishes for the New Year, may it be happy and peaceful for you all.

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