Thursday, May 19, 2011

Update from Madhyamaloka's Dharma training course

Richard Millington writes from Madhyamaloka, Triratna’s large community in Birmingham UK, with news of their 6-month Dharma training course for young Buddhist men, which is well underway now. He says - “We thought it would be good to send out an update to everyone! There are nine of us on the course, with international representation from Tomas Lindblom (Sweden) and Chris Menz (Australia). Also in attendance are Vimokshadaka, Ben Mann, David Basak, Richard Turner, Leigh Smith, Mat New, and me.

“Over the length of the course we’ve gone more deeply into the fundamentals of the Dharma and the principles behind the Triratna approach to Buddhism. We’ve been made very welcome by the Madhyamaloka community, who have given up substantial amounts of time and energy for the course (honourable mention to Sanghadeva, who has been preparing restaurant standard food almost every day since we arrived).

“Vidyaruci has done a great job of planning the material and organising teachers, and we’ve had some really interesting and fruitful material. Since the course began we’ve done two retreats with Subhuti (one on Bhante’s system of meditation and one dealing with the Satipatthana Sutta); study skills and critical thinking classes with Jnanaketu; Sangharakshita’s approach to the Dharma and the history of Buddhism with Vidyaruci; ethics with Devamitra; Dr Ambedkar and the Indian Movement with Dharmashalin; reflection and insight workshops with Dhammaloka and Jnanaketu; skilful communication with Dhammarati; meditation days with Paramartha; logic with Vidyaruci; the Pali Canon with Sagaramati and Saraha; devotional practice with Mahamati; the Perfection of Wisdom literature with Abhaya; and Buddhist approaches to Mind and Science with Ratnaprabha. [phew! - ed]

“We’re also keeping up a strong arts and culture element to the course, with screenings of world cinema and theatre, classical music evenings (a trip to see one of Dvorak’s string quartets), and a group reading and analysis of Hamlet. (I’m reliably told there is also a secret group that meets occasionally to play Dungeons and Dragons). We’ve just put on a ‘sub-35 retreat’, where a group of us gave talks on the Threefold way of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom.

“Perhaps the most striking thing about the way the course is developing is the sense of warmth and trust that is emerging within the group. There is an atmosphere of mutual supportiveness that at times is quite wonderful. Speaking personally, the opportunity to take a break from day-to-day responsibilities to practice the Dharma intensively, and engage with higher culture more generally, has been invaluable.

“The guys all seem relaxed and happy and we’re all benefiting in our various ways from the course. We’ll send through another update before we finish, but until then, we’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone who has contributed their time, energy, resources or money to make it possible.

“With gratitude and metta, Richard Millington

Student interviews from the Triratna Dharma training course at Madhyamaloka

Click the embedded video for an interview with Vidyaruci and others on the course, lying on Madhyamaloka’s lawn in the blissful Spring sunshine. Or here for the direct link.

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