Adhisthana: Another Turning of the Wheel
The search for a property where Bhante could live out his last years and which would house his library saw many twists and turns, raising of hopes and disappointments. Then a remarkable configuration of events allowed us to purchase Coddington Court, in the Herefordshire countryside. Bhante announced the name at an Order Convention in Bodh Gaya in 2013. It was to be called ‘Adhisthana’.
From the moment of its opening in 2015, many Order members and Friends throughout Triratna have described Adhisthana as becoming a significant place, with Bhante having lived his final years at Adhisthana and having enjoyed some of the happiest years of his life. In 2018 he died and was buried here.
Now three years have passed since Bhante’s death, and we have been reviewing the future of Adhisthana, and its role in Triratna.
The Lineage of Teaching and Practice
Through his writing, talks, lectures and seminars, Bhante laid out an expansive vision of the Dharma. He approached it from various perspectives and in the light of different traditions, and in doing so he gave us something quite remarkable in its breadth, depth, clarity, and accessibility. He was very aware that he was writing and teaching not just for his immediate audience, but also for coming generations and for the future of the Dharma in the world.
This vision that Bhante shared is alive in many of us, but, as Order members quite naturally focus on those teachings and practices they find most helpful, we have to take care that this vision does not get limited or diminished but is passed on in its fullness to future generations, and can continue to unfold. This could be considered the chief task of Adhisthana.
We’re excited about developing a programme of events and retreats, which will be a broader and deeper exploration of Bhante’s direct teaching. Eventually, this will amount to an exploration in depth of the whole body of Bhante’s teaching, as well as engaging with canonical texts in the light of his lectures and seminars.
In 2021 our programme will consist of a number of courses, each of which will explore a particular strand of teaching. In this first year we’ll be looking at the Platform Sutra of Hui Neng, the Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, the Satipatthana Sutta, a range of Sadhanas and many more.
Initially we are asking experienced Order members to lead retreats engaging with Dharma teachings that inspired them when they first attended seminars and studied with Bhante, bringing something of the excitement and enthusiasm of those times to new generations.
Bhante offered us so much, and we are looking out for valuable teachings and perspectives that have receded to the sidelines, aiming to bring them back centre stage. In time we may develop some sort of curriculum, with an extended series of traditional texts, seminars and writings that we cycle through. Some Order members are keen to develop modules, where the same text might be approached from a more scholarly, a more meditative or a more devotional perspective. We also want to see Adhisthana developing a significant online presence that both allows those who cannot travel to join our retreats, and also offers regular teaching for all levels. Whilst many of our residential retreats will be for Order members, through the online events we plan to give people at all stages of their connection with the Dharma an opportunity to engage with Adhisthana.
It is going to take time for all of this to take shape, but as it starts to happen we hope to see a rich array of retreats and events unfolding at this Place of Blessings.
Training for Young People
How we and future generations will hand Sangharakshita’s legacy on to further generations, in a way that is vital and relevant, will occupy our creative energies for years to come, and this will be a new emphasis in Adhisthana’s programme. In collaboration with the European Chairs’ Assembly, Ksantikara, the European Young Buddhist Coordinator, has moved here, to spearhead this significant strand of Adhisthana’s work.
A Strong Online Presence
We won’t always have the opportunity to visit Adhisthana itself. The extraordinary circumstances of 2020 made us much more aware of the need for effective online teaching, and the possibilities that it opens up for reaching a much wider and more international audience.
Technology has also made translation and subtitling easier, making it more practical for our events to reach beyond the English speaking Sangha.
We want to develop this online teaching and make it an integral part of Adhisthana’s events, to make the excellent teaching here as accessible as possible for the Order and Movement internationally.
Our online offerings for 2021 will be expanded over the coming months.
The Adhisthana Teaching Community
These events will be taught by some of Triratna’s most experienced Dharma teachers. As well as those who are part of the residential community at Adhisthana, there are many others from every part of the world where Triratna is active, from the Americas to New Zealand.
As well as leading retreats and teaching at Adhisthana, the Teaching Community will meet to study and practise together, deepening and sharing their understanding of the Dharma as communicated through Sangharakshita’s teaching, and helping us unfold the vision of Adhisthana.
This experienced team makes it possible for those who have not studied with Bhante to study and practice closely with those who have, so that the distinctive spirit and character of his teaching is passed on.
The Dharma Team
The Dharma Team is part of the community living at Adhisthana, whose main responsibility is the spirit, direction, and vision of this important aspect of Adhisthana’s work.
The team is currently Saddhanandi, Dhammarati, Saddhaloka, Shubhavyuha and Khemabandhu. Subhuti has been an integral part of the team in developing the vision and direction of the project. Ratnaghosa will join us in the summer of 2021, and we hope others will join us soon.
The team has been receiving invaluable help from the Sikkha Project in this work.