Sunday, 6 June 2010

Three Years Old Today!

It's a hard to believe but the West Wight Sangha web site has been running for three years as of today. I missed doing an anniversary issue last year but in this post I want to link back to some of the "major" stories that we have covered over the last twelve months (please follow the links for the full stories).

The first one that I want to mention is when we got together with the Newport Soto Zen group at the end of July last year to travel over to the mainland and visit the Buddhist monastery at Chithurst. Cittaviveka, as the monastery is known, belongs to the Thai forest tradition was founded by Ajahn Chah and features strongly in later news.

September saw the Island Sangha Picnic taking place in the grounds of the Ventnor Botanic Gardens for the second year running.

At the beginning of October we had a visit by Palaka to the Island to teach "an exploration of the personal significances to be found and used in the symbolism of the '6 Realms' that appear in the 'Wheel of Becoming'."

On the 22nd of October a momentous occasion happened, quietly....... to start with! Ajahn Brahm, Abbott of Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Western Australia, enabled the ordination of four Theravada Bhikkhunis, or nuns. Bodhinyana belongs to the same Thai forest tradition as founded by Ajahn Chah as Chithurst. Bhikkhuni ordination is illegal in Thailand and not "allowed" in the Thai forest tradition! The news of events in Australia only came out when Ajahn Brahm was "Expelled" from the Thai forest tradition because of the Bhikkhuni Ordinations. Many more stories followed in connection with this and the whole issue of gender inequality within certain traditions of Buddhism is now, thankfully, fully in the open.

November marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, his momentous work, which he started here on the Island ( it was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth back in February of last year).

In December there was a whole flurry of stories around the continuing Bhikkhuni controversy with "retaliation" taking place or being threatened by Wat Pah Pong, the head monastery of the Thai forest tradition as founded by Ajahn Chah. These continued into January of this year with news of moves to "reclaim" the "ownership" of Bodhinyana monastery.

The story rumbled on into February with a group of female novices, who while being "ordained" as second class Siladhara "nuns" at Amaravati monastery here in the U.K., were forced to agree to the infamous "Five Points".

April witnessed the tragic results of the earthquake in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China (i.e. Tibet, not China as the media kept saying). We also launched the the new "paged" version of the site which has grown steadily since then and we have also made a return visit to Chithurst monastery.

May heralded in a new government here in the U.K. The "Sangha Sisters" walked the Wight and we celebrated Wesak with the rest of the Island Sangha here in the West Wight for the second year running.

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