Newsletter - Editorial
I’ve just spent a very enjoyable weekend with the DBC Sangha studying the Dharma with Sagaramati, a long-time Order Member with a particular penchant for Dharma study. In fact, I reckon he is one of the most well informed and sharpest minds we have. I know I wasn’t the only one who very much appreciated listening to him digging deep into some of the earliest records of the Buddha’s teachings and drawing out their significance.
Dharma study is an essential aspect of the Buddhist life. It clears away our unhelpful views and assumptions. One of the things that I’ve noticed over the years is that it is very often mistaken assumptions – not lack of enthusiasm, or challenging conditions – that hold us back in our practice. As well as clearing away our unhelpful views and assumptions, sustained Dharma study brings a truer perspective that helps untangle the more complex spiritual and existential issues that we face.
Some people find the expression ‘Dharma study’ off-putting, suggesting as it does school books, tedious lectures and exam anxiety. However, if we can put that to one side and see what it really means to study the Dharma – to engage deeply with the point of view of an Awakened human being – we can experience its liberating effect. This liberation is the true purpose of the Buddha’s teaching.
Dharma Study in Triratna
Dharma study has been an integral aspect of our Buddhist community since its earliest days. Sangharakshita, our founder and teacher, has a very great love for Buddhist literature and it is largely his reading and reflection on Buddhist texts that has informed the particular way that we practice. He led many seminars on foundational Buddhists texts in the 1970’s and 80’s in which he communicated his unique perspective on their contents. Those seminars also instilled in those present a curiosity and desire to investigate the Dharma more deeply in study and reflection, as well as in life and practice.
This tradition of Dharma enquiry has continued in Triratna through group Dharma study. Happily, with a growing Order in Dublin, there are now seven study groups meeting regularly and engaging primarily with the Dharma Training Course for Mitras. This course is a collation of texts and recorded talks by Sangharakshita and experienced Order Members that offers a way of navigating the often bewildering array of Buddhist teachings available – not just to understand them, as valuable and inspiring as that is, but to apply them to the conditions of contemporary life.
Even if we are not able to attend a regular study group, we can all engage with the Dharma in many ways. For instance, there are thousands of Dharma talks on Free Buddhist Audio for free download. Also are books produced by our publishing house Windhorse Publications as well as numerous sutras, commentaries and other works by the sages of old available in translation.
Sangharakshita’s Complete Works
Windhorse Publications is currently undertaking a major project which will bring together all of Sangharakshita’s writings produced over 70 years! When complete it will fill 27 large volumes. This will be a significant resource for anyone who wants to find out more about Sangharakshita’s teaching now and into the future. If you are interested in this project, you can find out more on the Windhorse Publications website.
Welcome Atulyamitra – Farewell Eamonn
In many of his lectures and writings, Sangharakshita endeavours to communicate his vision for the Triratna Buddhist Community and Order. This Order grew in size again this summer when Atulyamitra (ex-Eileen McCarney), together with scores of men and women from around the world, was ordained. Atulyamitra’s name was given to her by Prajnagita, her private preceptor and means incomparable or unequalled friend. Welcome to the Order Atulyamitra! Sadhu!
In ordaining Atulyamitra, Prajnagita became our first ‘home-grown’ Irish private preceptor. Our own Vajrashura will become another when – in September at Guhyaloka in Spain – he privately ordains Eamonn Lawlor. Eamonn is a man well loved around the DBC Sangha for his many fine qualities, which were amply highlighted during his recent rejoicing and send off. Good luck Eamonn – may all blessings be yours!
As always, there is a wide-ranging programme of events lined up for you from now until the end of the year. You are invited to come along to as many as you can!