A new Centre for YorkOn Fri, 14 October, 2022 - 10:23
On Saturday 8th October, the Sangha - local and not so local - gathered to witness and celebrate the official opening of the York Buddhist Centre in its prime central location. York is in north Yorkshire, in the North-East of England and about 25 miles from Leeds (where Shakyapada connected with Triratna) and about 40 miles from Scarborough where there is also a nascent Triratna presence.
Shakyapada was ordained in 2017 and started running activities in York later that year. She has proved indefatigable in her efforts to establish a thriving Sangha and a shining example of what one inspired Order Member can achieve. She says:
I have always been a pioneer. I love the creativity of starting something new and making it work. It can be demanding but it’s fun too. I built a printing business up from just me to 140 employees. I started a running club and a successful bookshop but starting a Buddhist Group had a big extra element of shraddha (faith) with it. It felt almost as if there was no choice in the matter - it was just something that I had to do.
Ably helped from the start by Mark, a long-standing mitra and also from a business background, they were both clear that a balance was needed between ‘business discipline’ (raising sufficient funds) and the more spiritual vision.
On the second week of their first course, she who became Amalasara turned up after also initially starting her Triratna ‘career’ in Leeds. They also have Maitrikirana from Sheffield as part of the team.
Our ethos was friendship and from the start we made everyone feel welcome and part of what we were trying to achieve - this continues to the present day. It’s very important that anyone who wants to be involved has an opportunity to do so.
Of course it hasn’t always been easy but we have had a lot of support from Order members who have helped with teaching, becoming trustees, offered encouragement etc, as well as valuable support and guidance from the Groups & Pioneers gatherings and from the ECA Development Team.
The day featured her official and ritual taking up of the Chairship. This involved her taking from the shrine a small rupa (statue) of Kwanyin (a form of Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva of compassion) and what better guiding inspiration? At some point she will hand it onto the next Chair and create a sense of lineage and history.
Also officially and ritually welcomed was Taravandana who has kindly agreed to act as a kalyana mitra (spiritual friend) to the York Centre and Sangha. She took a double vajra from the shrine, a potent symbol of transformation.
With meditation, short talks, puja and hearty rejoicings the York Centre truly came to life, and long may the Triratna Sangha thrive there.
Our vision for the next five years is to consolidate and grow our sangha and make the most of our new centre which is on a six-year lease. It feels like another beginning rather than an end. We are already running more classes, courses and Day Retreats and we hope to do more as our Sangha grows in experience and some of them become ordained. We currently have 19 mitras and four women who have asked for Ordination, and 3 study groups and we are currently setting up classes for schools.