Monday, August 25, 2008

A report from the FWBO European Chairs Meeting, July 2008

July 18-27 saw some 30 FWBO Chairs from around Europe – men and women - gathering for the usual summer ‘assembly’ at Vajrasana, the London Buddhist Centre’s very handsome retreat centre in Suffolk. The European Chairs work together through their shared charity the Indrajala Trust, which employs the FWBO Development Team – better known to most people as the friendly faces of Lokabandhu, Vajragupta, Satyadarshin, Siddhisambhava, and others!

This brief report, by Lokabandhu, gives a few of the highlights of the meeting, for any FWBO readers interested in some of the ‘background’ workings of the FWBO, at least the FWBO as it is in Europe.

* Celebrating Dharma Day with meditation and a talk by Mahamati, who was visiting the meeting as a welcome guest. The theme was continued through the week with pujas to the figures in the Five Buddha Mandala most evenings.
* Welcoming Siddhisambhava as the new FWBO Fundraiser and agreeing with her a fundraising strategy for the next couple of years –probably with fundraising for Free Buddhist Audio her next major focus; also beginning to develop materials for an FWBO Legacies campaign. And celebrating with her the successful completion of her first campaign, raising over £37,000/year (and counting!) from the Order with which to support Sangharakshita and his staff.
* Agreeing £15,000 for Candradasa and his team to create a new and much more dynamic/interactive website for the FWBO, to be hosted under the new domain
* Agreeing to hold another FWBO International Retreat in 2010, and probably every two years after that – and congratulating Vajragupta on his very successful organisation of the first one.
* Agreeing to hold an international FWBO Urban Retreat in 2009 – and possibly every second year after that. This is building on the successful pilots that have been held in Sheffield and elsewhere. (See the FWBO Centre Support website for info). We’ll fix the exact date in October, after consultations with centres worldwide
* Participating in a day-long training on NVC (non-violent communication) with Vajrasara. The day was noteworthy, and all the more enjoyable, at least for some, due to the complete absence of jackals and giraffes! Those familiar with NVC will understand the reference...
* Agreeing to take up the subject of ‘Growth’ at the next meeting, in January 2009, and tasking Lokabandhu and Vajragupta to prepare a paper on this for presentation then.
* After noting that we now seem to be top in Google searches for “buddhism/yourtown” and “meditation/yourtown” almost everywhere we have centres, agreeing to bring to a close the successful work of Satyadarshin, for several years the FWBO webmaster.
* Previewing ‘Recurring Dream’, Suryaprabha’s new movie – a portrait of TBMSG, and part III of his five-part series in search of a spiritually meaningful way of life. (See FWBO News for a review).
* Reviewing the six ‘Strategic Priorities’ of the European Chairs’ meeting, taking several of them forwards in ‘Dream and Design’ sessions; and agreeing to revisit them and possibly revise them at the next meeting – which will be two years after they were created.
* Receiving reports from a meeting of FWBO Presidents – the first for some years – and also news of Windhorse:Evolution’s ambitious plans for growth over the next few years.
* Reviewing the work of the Development Team after their first two years, and as part of that, appointing Vajragupta to be its Director.
* Last but by no means least, enjoying the excellent hospitality of the LBC team who looked after us, and the many delightful walks around Vajrasana.
It was a remarkably harmonious and productive meeting and I think enjoyed by all. There was business to be done, of course, but also time for much else besides – not least the evening volleyball and frisbee! It marked, perhaps, the first really substantial fruits of the work of the FWBO Development Team, now some two years old – and laid the ground for the next phase of their work.

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