Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mitra Ceremonies, pilgrimages, and growth: news from Triratna in Sri Lanka...

We’ve got another update from the small FWBO/Triratna Sangha in Sri Lanka, courtesy of Ujukarin, an Order Member from the Netherlands, who writes to say -

“My twice-yearly trip to the Lankan sangha felt more and more like ‘just one of the many foreign Triratna visitors to the country’ than like the main highlight for the local sangha that it once was. And that is quite a good sign of a slowly maturing and growing situation. Later in the story you’ll encounter a few of those other foreign influences…

“The activities during this trip centred around the ‘existing sangha focus areas’ of Colombo and Galle-Matara, plus the increasingly important area of Kandy – the old hill capital of Lanka. We held day retreats in each of these plus a residential retreat mainly for the Southern Triratna friends in a pilgrim’s rest near a famous stupa in Yala park. All the existing friends rejoiced in the hard-worked merits from recent visitors like Prajnajit from India (see last fall’s stories) and Anne, a mitra from the UK.

Situlpahuwa, an old stupa site in Yala park
where we had a retreat nearby
“We had no less than four new mitras in three separate ceremonies; welcome to sisters Jayawanthi and Damayanthi, to Manjula and to Wasanth. A surprisingly high percentage of three-out-of-four ladies; rumour has it that there’s some relation to and inspiration from Anne’s hard work, and joy that she’ll be returning soon for a longer time.

“The Lankan mitras plan to start attending retreats in India soon and that too is a sign of a maturing sangha. And of a maturing cooperation in two directions: in Colombo I bumped into Dharmacharini Alokasri, from Pune/Birmingham, with one of her regular groups of Indian Buddhist pilgrims to Sri Lanka! Together with similar trips by Manidhamma, also from India, Lanka now gets at least four groups of visitors yearly, who always make the effort for at least one meeting with the Lankan Triratna Buddhists - as well as visiting the ‘cultural’ Lankan sites of course.

“Highlights were of course the good attendance to the various day retreats and mitra ceremonies, overall at least 50 different people. Lowlights however cannot be avoided too. Picking a remote place for a retreat like Yala (4 hours from Matara) was lovely, with lots of peacefulness and wildlife including pet deer and cute-but-risky monkeys. But the distance was also a-road-too-far for many of the promised attendants, so in the end we were with only a handful and next time we’ll pick a place closer-to-home.

“And it is a bit sad to report that Sagaraloka, our small retreat hall behind South Ceylon restaurant in Unawatuna, is no more. Due to the commercial transfer of the restaurant from Saddhavira to mitra Renuka and family there was ‘no fit’ in the redesigned and much-modernised setup, though still we can use the restaurant for day retreats and classes. Happily that’s only a small setback in an overall hugely spreading and growing situation, so it’s the kind of Dukkha one happily accepts with equanimity.

“May the Lankan Sangha keep on flourishing with many more foreign visits, and for myself, I’ll be back this Autumn!  For more photos of my visit please visit our Facebook album.

"With folded palms,




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