On 7th October 2009 Bhante Sangharakshita set out his vision for what was to become Adhisthana. It was an ambitious project in its conception: to create a land for Triratna where the Order and Community can gather; to pay homage to our teacher, for kalyana mitrata, for Dhamma instruction, for meditation and reflection, to retreat, to work, to live, to honour the dead, to celebrate, to meet in large numbers. Years of pressured searching for a suitable and affordable property preceded a year of dedicated, hard graft to convert a heavily-discounted run-down complex of buildings into an immediate home for Bhante and the beginnings of that initial vision. Given a name meaning ‘blessings’ in Sanskrit and opening in 2013, Adhisthana quickly found a meaningful place in the hearts and minds of the Triratna Order and movement and in 2018 the fundamental essence of the place shifted from Bhante’s home to his final resting place. Ten years after the first residents moved into an abandoned school, freshly ordained, I became its Chair.
To someone visiting Adhisthana today for the first time the place will give the impression of a well-established institution and I have often delighted in surprising newcomers by telling them that we are not yet ten years old. With the help of the generosity of many of you, particularly our retreat leaders who have given their time and experience so freely, so much has already been achieved and the pages of this booklet are a testament to that. I hope you enjoy reading them.
And there is so much more to unfold. The lockdown that followed in the wake of Bhante’s death gave us an opportunity to take a step back from running a successful and thriving retreat centre-cum-meeting place-cum-place of pilgrimage and reassess our role in the Triratna mandala. How best could we help the adhisthana, the blessings, flow out into the world? Our explorations have tapped a well of inspiration, gathering some of our most experienced Order members to delve more deeply into the legacy of teachings our founder has left us. We aim to understand the mind behind the words, and to appreciate and faithfully pass on that ‘something ineffable’ that flowed from Bhante’s realisation while reading the Diamond Sutra at age 16, that carried him forward throughout his life, and which flows through and carries us beyond his life.
The Adhisthana Teaching Community, a group of around 30 of Triratna’s most experienced teachers, gathers twice a year to lay the foundations for this great task. These have proven to be inspiring, energising and revealing gatherings. Out of these explorations has flowered our programme of Teaching Community events: a selection of large events available in-person and online exploring Bhante’s perspectives through expositions, meditation, ritual and discussion on a range of texts; and small, intimate seminars looking closely at Bhante’s words, and just as closely at our heart’s response. Adhisthana will continue to host a wide range of events and meetings which contribute to it being a hub and home for the Order and Movement, as well as welcoming pilgrims and visitors.
In our tenth anniversary year we have a selection of celebratory events each offered for the different groupings of the Adhisthana mandala. We will have a tenth anniversary exhibition and site-specific installations by Royal Academy Show artist Akasalila (Sarah Jones). The communities here hope to see you on one or more of these events.
Adhisthana aims to offer an opportunity for all those who want to make contact with this place of blessings: through retreats, gatherings, meetings, visits and volunteering. We’ll soon be adding another offering to that list, in the form of two comfortable solitary retreat cabins on our grounds. Each is an opportunity to connect with Bhante, circumambulate his burial mound, enter his library, visit Urgyen House, witness and be witnessed in our practice, to simply rest in the adhisthana.
This blog is an excerpt from the Tenth Anniversary book which can be viewed online or bought from Adhisthana.