BY ANNE, Volunteer and Mitra from the LBC
Adhisthana was charged with excitement and inspiration as we welcomed sanghas from across the UK and parts of Europe to mark Triratna Day, the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Order in 1967. As well as those on the long weekend retreat, day and online guests joined us on the day itself, amplifying the collective experience of celebration and commemoration; the spirit of community and internationality was palpable. Local sangha friendships were deepened and enriched, and sparks of connection were made with new friends, sometimes across and transcending language-barriers.
The theme for the weekend was drawn from one of Sangharakshita’s seminal talks in 1970 – Is a guru necessary? – when he himself was still trying to crystallise his vision for the Order and how the guru principle best fit within it. Talks from Saddhanandi, Ksantikara and other members of the Adhisthana community and team served to unpack this complex relationship, between that of a guru and a disciple. The talks were both deeply personal, rooted in lived-experience and honest self-disclosure, and profoundly dharmic, evoking the existential plane of communication. The dharmic transmission was full-bodied, dynamic, and uncompromising. Many retreatants described cherishing the richness of the weekend’s content, eager to further digest, reflect upon and absorb its effects. Humour and heart also infused the retreat; moments of tender and open-hearted stillness punctuated spells of delight and laughter.
Urgyen House, Sangharakshita’s final home, was open throughout the weekend. It received so many guests on Triratna Day that we had to schedule in an emergency clean-up session the next morning, happily carried out by Ratnaghosha. Paramartha, Bhante’s closest friend, kindly and tirelessly conducted several tours of the rooms, sharing personal stories and answering questions. For many, this was the closest they could get to being in contact with Bhante himself.
A ritual conducted around Bhante’s burial mound marked the heart of the retreat, on the afternoon of Triratna Day. The scene was stunning and mythic, framed by the blooming amelanchier trees. We circumambulated the mound to the rhythmic singing of the Padmasambhava mantra, steady and poignant. Petals were lovingly strewn onto the mound; the bright fuchsia in contrast with the vivid greens. The fume of incense pervaded above the petals, ethereal and remarkably beautiful. The closing mantras held everyone’s hearts and minds, culminating in an exquisite stillness.
This was the first time the Adhisthana community held an event like this, on this scale. At the height of Triratna Day, 115 or so pilgrims and retreatants inhabited the grounds of Adhisthana. Various local sanghas were invited to participate; they included Stroud, Essen, Paris, Birmingham, Warwick et al. This created a sense of familiarity and ease; friendships grew more easily. The spectrum of experience in the room was appreciated by retreatants, especially those new to retreats and new to Adhisthana. Order Members led their local sangha groups and translated for them if needed. Momentum and vision propels the Adhisthana project; it feels exciting, full of potential. The Adhisthana community will look forward to the next iteration of events like this, the Summer Sanghas Retreat in July. It is also planning ahead for the next Triratna Day, brimming with ideas!