Last week Triratna News posted a story from Guhyapati outlining the EcoDharma Centre’s five-year vision and current opportunities. They've just launched a new initiative, The Sila Network, and are looking for people to join them. He explains -
“The Sila Network aims to help Buddhist Centres across Triratna bring the transformative power of the Dharma into effective relationship with society. It also seeks to support the application of Buddhist ethics to the 21st century. A number of Order Members, friends and mitras have been working together over the last year to create it”. “Central to our thinking was a conviction that as students of the Dharma, and in a time of planetary crisis, it’s essential we engage with the social context in which we find ourselves,” explains Alex Swain, who is taking on an administrative role in the network. “In Triratna,” she continues, “we speak of this in terms of ‘transformation of self and world’, and this initiative seeks to help make that a reality.”
The Sila Network team, which includes Guhyapati from the EcoDharma Centre, Lokabandhu from the Triratna Development Team, and Ben Jackson who is currently based in Berlin, has drafted the following mission statement:
“The Sila Network seeks to support institutions throughout the Triratna Community to exemplify ethical ideals, as applied to ecological sustainability and social justice issues. We want to help Buddhist Centres, businesses and communities to address ethical consumption, energy descent and radical simplicity, and to communicate about these choices in a way that inspires and encourages similar change in others. Applying Buddhist ethics to a 21st century context, we are seeking to support institutions within Triratna (including: Urban Buddhist Centres, Rural Retreat Centres, communities, Right-Livelihood initiatives and businesses) to embrace and exceed the best practice already evident in society at large. The network emphasises the “power of community” to address our shared ecological and social problems in the belief that, together, we can work towards a transition from non-sustainability and social injustice to a sustainable future and culture of compassion”.
“Dharma practitioners are aware that our ethical precepts need to be upheld consistently through all aspects of our lives,” says Lokabandhu. “It’s increasingly evident that the choices we make in how we consume, where we bank, who our energy supplier is, and so on, really do matter, especially when we stand together in bigger numbers.” With this in mind the Sila Network team feel that the Triratna Community has great potential to set an inspiring example for a culture which is too often preoccupied with individualism and consumption. It aims to assist our Triratna Centres to become beacons of ethical practice contributing meaningful solutions. “We hope,” explains Guhyapati, “ to support our shared aspirations of compassion and concern for the world, so that the power of the Dharma can continue to transform society, helping our Centres and institutions become exemplars and sources of inspiration.”
The team have already written to Triratna Centres in the UK and mainland Europe (where the initiative will focus for the time being), looking for one or two people within each local sangha to become ‘Sila Network Contacts’. They’re hoping to find, within local Triratna Sanghas, people with expressed concerns about sustainability and other social issues who might be drawn to work with the Network. Or people in local Buddhist Centre teams who’re interested in the help the Network could offer. Some Centres are already doing excellent work in these areas. So, there may be someone in your local centre team already engaged in this kind of work, and if there is, the Sila Network team would love to speak to them! They might also be able to help share their experience around the movement.
Can you recommend someone, or would you like to get involved? If so, please put yourself or them in touch with us, through our email address email@example.com
There will also be a meeting in the EcoDharma space at the Buddhafield Festival in mid-July. If you’re planning to attend, look out for it on the program and come and meet the team there.