“Thus the real problem, the central problem even, of the spiritual life is how to conserve and unify our energies” The Bodhisattva Ideal, by Sangharakshita
Dancing in the dark on the balcony 5 floors up in Maryhill to a sound track of classic oldies (beamed wirelessly to my ears) my energy starts moving. Joy, delight, happiness in the present. It's 2020 and this year we are exploring the 4th perfection of the Bodhisattva; the perfection of Virya or energy. Not just any old energy though, but energy focused in pursuit of the good.
Our Bodhisattvas are beings who sit on the brink of enlightenment, deferring the final step until all beings join them. You can spot a Bodhisattva by their actions, by their practice of the 6 perfections. These are Dana (Generosity), Sila (Ethics), Kshanti (Patience), Virya (Energy), Samadhi (Concentration) and Prajna (Wisdom). In 2020 we have invited the Bodhisattva Vajrapani into our midst to inspire, influence and guide us. A new shrine dedicated to Vajrapani has been created in the heart of our sangha’s life - the GBC kitchen.
The art of Virya lies in taking good care of how we use the energy available to us. We examine the areas of life where we are wasting energy. We explore what gets in the way of its flow. With clarity we let go of what is finished, as well as the unhelpful and unnecessary. We concentrate and focus our energy. We take up or increase practices that develop our energy. As it is for each of us personally with energy so it is for the living breathing organism that is the Glasgow Buddhist Centre. New Year is a great time for change.
We are welcoming in this new year with big changes in the centre team. The centre team as we have known it is no more. December 2019 saw us saying goodbye to Janette, our centre manager, who can now devote more of her energies to her deepening practice. At the end of January 2020 our administrator of 7 years service, Hilary, will be happily taking her fingers off the keyboard in the back office and preparing for her ordination later in the year. We are saying hello to Bear our new part time administrator who joins us in January.
Big changes too from 6th January in how we engage with the public. Our Dharma and Meditation pathway will be our primary means of contact with the public. Through our programme of drop in meditations, classes in Buddhism, deepening practice opportunities and festivals, people can explore Buddhism with us. There is a team that hosts planned big group and schools visits to the centre. But we no longer host an open reception Mon- Wednesday afternoons. Bookings for events and classes are still taken over the phone, online and at any of our public classes.
Our practice of Kshanti (patience) in 2019 has meant that we steadily developed new foundations for our community’s life. We turned towards and not away from the challenges that we opened the year 2019 with. We gave mandates to 10 groups (kulas) who are each running a different part of the GBC from festivals to the library. Our new finance kula reported we had halved our deficit from 18k to less than 9k at the end of 2019. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to this changing situation. With patience a corner has been turned.
While we are taking our study of the perfections in order, the practice is not so tidy. I don’t doubt that we will still need patience (as well as generosity and ongoing ethics) while we channel our energies to meet this 21st century with openness, kindness and forbearance. Being those qualities wherever we are, whatever we are doing, will be one of our contributions to sustaining life on earth in 2020. Happy New Year!
“The body experiences pleasure as a result of acts of merit. The mind is pleased through learning. When he remains in cyclic existence for the benefit of others what can weary the Compassionate One?” Perfection of Virya chapter, Bodhicaryavatara, by Santideva.
Kuladharini, Chair, Glasgow Buddhist Centre