In our recent sangha survey we asked ‘what is the purpose of the Glasgow Buddhist Centre?’As a community, we responded with one voice. “We exist to deepen our spiritual practice and share the dharma with others”. At our sangha gathering in March, our aspirations became clearer. We want to realise the dharma more fully in ourselves as well as make it more literally and educationally accessible to the people of Glasgow and Scotland. Right now new structures are being imagined that will help us do that.
One of these new structures is, of course, a dharma and meditation teaching kula. This group, previously known as the dharma teachers meeting, has drafted a mandate for itself that requests the responsibility to re-shape the Dharma and Meditation teaching programme. On the cards also from this group is a training programme for order members and mitras that are leading study and meditation.
Mandates are also being requested for the library, the bookshop and the mitra convening functions of our work. A mandate devolves some of the responsibility for running the Glasgow Buddhist Centre to a specific group of people. A named person holds each mandate and is accountable to the trustees (aka The Council) of the charity that oversees the GBC. They gather a group of interested order members and mitras around them to help with the work. In this way, we create groups of practitioners working closely together to achieve a goal that is important to us all. Each group has an explicit mandate that is available for all to see and has a named individual to contact about that work. Each group draws in different people around a task that is essential to our purpose. The big idea is that we became a self organising and self sustaining centre.
The Triratna Buddhist Community has always been self organising to a greater or lesser extent. Our founders were a bunch of young people who built buddhist centres, created businesses and residential communities with little or no experience. Some of those founders were also pensioners; one of whom kept a whole team fed on her basic state pension while they built the first women’s only retreat centre in the movement. Because of their whole hearted gifts we have urban centres, retreat centres and practice communities. So in the GBC we are now turning back to these roots albeit with a 21st Century twist.
Self organising structures mean that more order members and mitras can play a direct role in the life of the GBC in ways that align with their capacities and enthusiasm. Self organisation increases both our capacity to achieve our mission and our clarity of purpose in doing so. There is room for many more self organising groups. Who knows where this will take us? Into the unknown for sure. Patience, tolerance, receptivity and forgiveness will all be needed as we stumble forward into the new….. just as well this is the year of Kshanti then.