In early 2019, I did a Dharma Life Course with 8 others. We came together for five months from Venezuela, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and the UK, and together built a temporary community, the strength of which forged lasting international friendships. Throughout the pandemic we have come together online to catch up, check in, dance, and work together in ‘Zoom lounges’.
While I wasn’t around in the heyday of Windhorse Trading, and wasn’t even alive when Buddhist businesses were rife in the 80s, it seems like there are fewer opportunities than ever for people to work in Buddhist teams, and live in Buddhist Communities. Perhaps there is less interest in these ways of living now (which is a great shame), but regardless, the Dharma Life courses give people an opportunity to dip a toe into these contexts, even if only for a short time.
Individuals who do the courses often form a powerful bond with this place. Adhisthana; a place of power, from where blessings emanate. I imagine alumni leaving the grounds and returning to their home cities and countries carrying something small and glowing within them. It is undefinable, but it has a quality of grace. From the greater lamp, a lesser lamp we light within us…
As I see it, to be able to live here, even if only for a short while, is a gift. To get up in the morning and meditate in front of a wall of Buddhas placed there by the hands of a global sangha is a gift. For a couple of weeks in spring, the Amelanchier trees are covered in tiny white flowers – to circumambulate Sangharakshita’s burial mound, with their fragrance in the air, the sunset turning the western sky pink and the moon rising over the Malvern Hills; that is a gift. To move among Dharma-fairers who have followed the path for decades, to sit with them, eat with them and talk with them. That is a gift.
We will soon see the start of a new Dharma Life Course at Adhisthana. A Dharma Life Course during a pandemic, like so many other things, doesn’t look quite the same, but I am confident this course will be invariably the same as those previous in the fundamentals. I look forward to meeting the new course members, and living and working along side them for the next few months.
With metta, Caroline