“We also discussed meditation, especially with regard to the ordination process. In the Order we now seem to be arriving at a renewed understanding of meditation and we would like to build on that in our communication with others. We began by simply identifying areas of meditation we think need more discussion or clarification and how we could proceed. We want to make sure that meditation continues to go hand-in-hand with the teaching of the Dharma at Centres, and not become divorced from ethics and wisdom. We’re suggesting that a working group on meditation come out of the planned International Assembly meeting. We would like Order members representing the three strands of the Order, the Movement and the College to come together to look at coordination in meditation and to talk through the issues.
“We are also keen to continue to work with private preceptors, not only in the area of clarifying meditation but also with regards ordination and post-ordination training generally. Private preceptors are in important kalyanamitrata relationships with Order members and their role is essential to the spiritual dynamism of our community. We have a number of training retreats planned for private preceptors next year, and would like to have a large retreat with public and private preceptors in 2012.
“We also talked about the ordination process in India. The men and women’s process there are seriously under-resourced in terms of preceptors and it seems essential that consultation processes for new preceptors, especially public, are started. We agreed to do so, at the same time aware that there are different points of view in India about what is needed for the ordination process to develop. We see consultation regarding new preceptors as a means of also discussing and clarifying such issues.
“Another area to which we gave some time was the area of sexual ethics within kalyanamitra relationships in our community, including the whole range of such relationships: preceptor/preceptee, retreat leaders, class leaders. We recognised that this is a complex and sensitive issue and one that needs further thought and discussion.
“A number of further points were on our agenda, which we gave more or less time to. These included changes to FWBO Central - now renamed the Triratna Preceptors College Trust - which holds central assets of the movement such as Madhyamaloka. There is a plan for a change in the structure of FWBO Central ensuring that the College is legally responsible for the assets it is morally responsible for.
“College funding was also on the agenda, and we decided to partially support a professional fund-raiser, who will also be working for the European Chairs’ Assembly. We also had an update on the Sangharakshita Land Project, discussed 7-year reviews (with a number of us coming up for review in 2011/12), and looked at our policy on Order names and concerns that the scholars have raised about ensuring their grammatical correctness.
“We also, of course, had time together in our kulas, or small groups. These are the working units for deciding on ordinations, on private preceptor consultation and reviews, and gives a smaller context for each of us to share our work and concerns. There are 5 kulas at present. Men and women in the ordination process, and Order members themselves, may not be aware of which public preceptors are working together in this way, so I thought it might be useful to list the kulas:
- India: Chandrasil, Suvajra, Karunamaya, Srimala and Subhuti
- two men’s Kulas: Manjuvajra, Padmavajra, Satyaraja, Saddhaloka, Surata and Moksananda in one, and Dhammarati, Sona, Nagabodhi, Buddhadasa, Mahamati, Kamalashila in the other.
- a women’s kula: Dhammadinna, Dayanandi, Parami, Maitreyi, Ratnadharini, Sanghadevi, Padmasuri, Mallika, Vajragita
- a South pacific women’s kula: Varadevi, Dharmanandi, Megha, Ratnadharini, Parami and Sanghadevi.
Some public preceptors may be in more than one Kula if they have overlapping responsibilities.
“Our next meeting will be in March 2011 at Padmaloka. You can also follow us via our blog, available at http://preceptorscollege.blogspot.com.