“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its inside comes out and everything changes.” Cynthia Occelli
With a massive collective effort we have packed up our home of nearly 40 years, taken the recycling away, re-homed almost all of the items we don’t need that still have life left in them, and have moved our stuff into storage. There were many runs to the city’s dumps. The signage is gone from Sauchiehall St. The large Buddha Rupa is heading off in 2021 to a new life with Glasgow City Museums. Most of our ritual objects have been fostered by community members until such times as we have a new shrine room. The sale of our premises at 329 Sauchiehall St is underway. As 2020 comes to a close there is a palpable sense of a job well done this year.
We have entered into the new normal. Our building at 329 Sauchiehall St did not work well for Covid prevention physical distancing regulations. So having accepted our de facto homelessness as a sangha (the buddhist term for community), we are adapting to a spiritual life led primarily online. While we are no end of grateful that we can stay connected with one another and practice online, we are under no illusions that online can entirely replace in-person connections. There is a level of nuance/sensitivity to each other and energetic alignments that come in our in-person gatherings that are hard, if not impossible, to replicate online. Those brief weeks when regulations allowed some of us to go on retreat in-person to Dhanakosa were deeply nourishing and replenishing.
With the experience of nearly 9 months of lockdowns behind us we are starting to discover what, in lockdown terms, is the ‘essential work’ at the heart of our charity. We found we cannot survive without regular in-person meetings of the team of people who are supported financially by the charity. We support the four order members who make up the spiritual leadership kula. We also support one person in the role of part-time administrator for the charity. The spiritual leadership kula meets in person weekly for 2 hours to deepen their relationships with one another and to consider the big questions impacting on the sangha and the charity’s work. The rest of their work is done by meeting people one to one on walks and of course on zoom. The charity’s trustees are able to meet online and do so roughly every three weeks at the moment.
For me the sense of a job well done comes from the fact that we have faced some difficult questions together without turning away. It comes from plugging away at the work we can do. It comes from consistently investing in taking our time where we can, and in so doing, we built room to hear bolder visions. It comes from each kula and mandate holder in our sangha focusing on their own area of work and with this we created the conditions where we are not only surviving this crisis brought on by Covid -19 but we can also take this opportunity to re-imagine ourselves as a sangha.
So, Glasgow Buddhist Centre is no longer at 329 Sauchiehall St, it is for the moment, and the foreseeable future, everywhere. Everywhere we gather online or meet in-person, in every class we teach on zoom or YouTube. The centre is in every one of the kula meetings whether it's to talk about festivals, Dharma teaching, or how to use our pre-covid stores of toilet paper. It's in every puja, every shared meditation and study session. Our digital front doors of website and YouTube are open 24/ 7, 365 days of the year, no matter what level of lockdown we are in. With that and our weekly whats on and news update emails, you should still be able to find us in 2021.
Happy New Year!