Monday, September 22, 2008

New chairman in Edinburgh

Vajrahridaya was last week installed as the new Chairman of the FWBO’s Edinburgh Buddhist Centre. He took over from Kalyanavaca, who had served as Chair for the past 8 years and steered the Centre through two moves and a variety of hired premises to its present, permanent, location. Vajrahridaya is the first Indian Order Member to become Chairman of any FWBO centre (outside India, of course). However, he’s lived in Scotland for several years, having originally moved there to be cook at Dhanakosa retreat centre.

Trained originally as a doctor in Maharastra, India, he told FWBO News that for some time he’d been feeling the urge to put his energy into “something bigger, something more Dharmic”, and that the opportunity to be chair had come at just the right time – and, having spotted it, he simply had to respond.

The occasion was marked by a two-hour ceremony for the local Sangha in which Parami, their president, and a member of the FWBO Preceptors’ College, presided. The highlight of the evening was perhaps the presentation to Vajrahridaya of a Jewel, representing the Bodhicitta – which he then planted in the centre of a Mandala, symbolising all aspects of the Edinburgh centre and even the wider world around it.

As Vajrahridaya explained, “for me, the Mandala represents a sacred circle of harmony and transformation. I see the Buddhist Centre as a series of circles, or teams, all overlapping and all in harmony, some working for the Centre itself and some reaching out to society around”. He went on to say “Actually, we’ll mostly be carrying on Kalyanavaca’s work –she has laid all the foundations for us to build on”.

Far from going into an early retirement, Kalyanavaca has immediately joined a Karuna door-knocking fundraising appeal in nearby Glasgow – after which , she says, she’ll have a well-earned ‘gap year’. As part of the leaving celebrations she was presented with a cheque, collected from members of the Sangha. She was delighted, and says she plans to pass it to Aloka, the WBO’s most prolific artist, who is at present working on an Avalokitesvara painting for her.

The photograph shows Kalyanavaca and Vajrahridaya, both looking remarkably at home in one another’s national costumes.

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