A journey of growth, self-knowledge, and connection in Adhisthana

by bodhikamala

Looking at the majestic trees of Adhisthana’s garden, one hot day in July, I realise that this is the same space that welcomed me 7 years ago in an experience alike, which at the same time feels completely different. In this very room, on a similar morning but 7 summers ago, I was saying goodbye to the place where I had spent five months of study, friendship, Dharma practice, and community in the Dharma Life Training Course.

In February 2015 Adhisthana opened its doors to me for the first time. I was a 26-year old Mexican Mitra training for Ordination. I was excited about life in the Dharma and longed for a much more intense experience: I was looking for training, connection with other practitioners, friendship, study, meditation… I wanted to fully immerse myself in the spiritual life with the Buddhist vision of Triratna, and I was interested in getting to know the Order outside my country in real life and experiencing the internationality of our movement.

I knew that Adhisthana existed, and I knew a little about its particular vision and purposes. Especially, I was aware that it was Bhante’s residence, and it was my dream to visit and maybe even get to meet him. Shortly after, someone kindly sent me information about a course that was being offered, designed especially for young women, which had the objective of giving them the experience of a completely dharmic life. That same week I submitted my application, and after fundraising, several videos and the support of many friends, known and unknown, I was in Adhisthana along with 7 other wonderful women, ready to embark on a mythical journey into our own depths and to discover the effect that a life completely focused on the Dharma can have.

It was a deeply transformative and integrating experience for all of us. I learned the value of service, realising that a spiritual life must have a real effect on the world around us. I formed friendships that last to this day, I experienced life in community, with all its beauty and its challenges, and I learned to let go of my preferences for the benefit of others. I enjoyed the group meditation and the presence of great practitioners, and of course I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Bhante in person and getting a sense of his presence, his personality and his energy…

Internally, I embarked on a very intense journey of self-knowledge and transformation. I permitted myself to fully commit as much as possible in the course because I really wanted to take advantage of my stay and my conditions in Adhisthana, so I allowed myself to explore my demons, to explore my views about myself and about the world, to accept the dark and light parts, and to really be seen by others. I can assure you that it was my stay at the Dharma Life Course and my willingness to open up to the unknown that led me to my ordination a couple of years later.

I said goodbye to Adhistana in June 2015 loving it like a second home, completely full of gratitude and inspiration, feeling open, receptive, affectionate and renewed, remembering the learnings and moments lived in the same room in which I am writing these lines. I would be in for a huge and pleasant surprise when, 5 years later, with a very different life and a new name, I would receive a letter of invitation to a different course in Adhisthana, designed for members of the Order who have accepted some kind of responsibility within Triratna: the International Course. You can imagine that I accepted the invitation immediately. I had no doubt, it would be like coming back home!

Even though the pandemic slowed us down a bit, July 2022 found fifteen Order Members from ten different countries arriving into this sacred space. Very different personalities, and age ranges, with a great variety of cultures and languages converging with a common vision and a profound ideal. Separated, perhaps, by innumerable conditions, but with Dharma as a principle of life, it was not difficult to create deep connections between us from the beginning, and I have a feeling that some of these connections will last for a long time too…

It has been a very particular experience, having been here in very different conditions 7 years ago, now being in this course. My first adventure was, without a doubt, a process of self-discovery and intense transformation; of integration. This time, having already gone through the ordination process, and having been Ordained 5 years ago, I can calmly look much further outside of myself and focus my attention on the ideals that led me to Ordination in the first place.

In the International course we are developing a collective vision, a deeper understanding of what it really means to belong to the Order: the principles of Triratna, the fundamental vision of Bhante Sangharakshita, the practical needs of the movement, and all with an eye to the future. How can we help the Dharma reach out and benefit as many people as possible, in an uncertain world that changes very quickly? We are learning practical skills that allow us to work better as a team, be supportive of our Sanghas, make well-informed decisions, and at the same time, create connections that go in all directions of the world, on every continent. In a more symbolic way, I experience it as if we were weaving a little piece of Indra’s immense web, cultivating deep friendships, and thereby strengthening common principles and values.

It is no longer about my growth, but about a collective vision of Dharmic life and Dharmic service. It is about working together, learning new strategies to benefit others, developing our individuality to have more things to grow to a world that needs love, compassion and clarity.

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