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We provide transcribed talks by 35 different speakers
Ratnavyuha, Auckland, NZ
Viveka, San Francisco, USA
Sangharakshita, Birmingham, UK
Viveka, San Francisco, USA
Mary, FBA Team
Jinamitra, Welwyn, UK
Coleen, FBA Team
Colum, London, UK
... with that.
They might quote a verse from the Bible and think nothing of it, but we
might not like it!
So perhaps, at the time of ordination, new Order members have to be made
aware of these things and asked to exercise tolerance and forbearance. I
think this is perhaps quite an important point.
For instance, in India I was sometimes asked about my family or my
parents, and my parents were divorced and both had married again, but I
often didn't mention that fact to Hindu friends because I knew it would
scandalise them. Especially a woman marrying for a second time after
divorce, while the first husband was still alive: a lot of orthodox Hindus
would consider that quite disgraceful, so I didn't mention it. But it should
certainly be possible to mention these sort of facts within the Order, and it
should be possible for Indian Order members to accept that divorce and
remarriage is a common thing in the West, and not considered disgraceful.
In the case of our ex-Untouchable Friends, that's much more easy, because
divorce and remarriage are pretty common among them; not as among the
caste Hindus - attitudes are very different.
Another thing is alcohol. Alcohol is completely incompatible with any
form of spiritual life in India. We don't see things like that. Our
associations are very different, if for no other reason because of our
Christian background, where wine has got very definite religious
associations. You don't find that in India at all. Wine is something
disgraceful and dirty and associated with foul dens on the outskirts of the
village - yes! - where men slink off in the evening, very ashamedly. Those
are not pleasant, sociable pubs, there's no such thing in India; drinking
doesn't have those associations. It's unthinkable for a spiritually-minded
person to drink in India. Indians would be quite shocked - even Indian
Order members still - if they were to know that English Order members
went along to the pub. Well, perhaps they'd be right to be shocked,
because there is a precept involved here. But even if one was just to drink
a little bit of wine on someone's birthday, I think many of them would still
be quite shocked.
So I think, yes, it is good to spell out in advance cultural differences, so
that Order members coming from different cultures can understand one
another, and as I said exercise tolerance and forbearance. Because it is
important - the question also mentions being true to ourselves - it is
important that we are able to be true to ourselves and not feel inhibited
when reporting in.
'Do you think it would uplift 'Shabda' if you contributed to it
regularly, i.e. things you had been thinking about the Movement or
dharmic points, so that they were transmitted more directly, rather
than matters sometimes being heard secondhand or not currently, as
well as possibly being misconstrued?'
I think it would be a good thing if I did contribute to 'Shabda' regularly,
whether to uplift it or otherwise. [Laughter] It's a question of time. It does
occasionally happen that someone does transcribe and edit, and then I
check, something that I've said on a seminar, and put it in 'Shabda'. This
happened after the last Tuscany. What was that? Someone thought it
especially important, and took the trouble to transcribe it and edit it in
Tuscany itself. I think Mokshabandhu did it - no, Cittapala did it - and
then I checked it, and it was published forthwith. Was it - ah, I remember
what it was: it was something about teaching meditation to beginners. (
Voices: Ah, yes!) So I would rather suggest that people on retreats, or on
seminars with me, if they feel that something should be put into wider
circulation, [would] transcribe it, either edit it themselves if they're able to
or get someone else to edit, then send to me for checking - never send it to
'Shabda' without first sending it to me for checking, so that I can be sure
that it is exactly what I wanted to say, and make sure that someone hasn't
misheard a word or two. So I'm quite willing to check that and to let it be
published forthwith in 'Shabda'. That would perhaps help.
__________: Also maybe some of your secretaries, maybe they could do
that occasionally, could they?
S: Dharmadhara has done it, I think, once, or at least he's reported a
discussion. But they are very busy people. But Dharmadhara is especially
interested in doing that sort of thing. What was it - I'm not sure what it
was - I think he put something in 'Shabda' a few months ago. Yes, I'm not
sure. But yes, I could certainly do that. If I didn't have so much else to do
I wouldn't mind publishing a monthly article, but I am so very busy. But I
do see that in a way that that is a lack, that there's no contribution from me.
But I think it could certainly be remedied if something could be
transcribed and edited from a recent seminar, something which somebody
thought was relevant. It need only be a page or two pages, or if there was
time four or five pages - I don't mind. It's no bother to me to check or
even re-edit a bit or tidy up. It should be, of course, some point of general
All right, let's pass on.
Section 2: Creating greater unity in the Women's Wing of
We wondered if it could be useful to have an overall Women's
Order Convenor to keep in direct contact with you and other
women Order members, as well as organise functions etc.
I think this is entirely up to the women Order members. If they think it
would help, I'm quite happy that there should be an overall Women's
Order Convenor. It will be up to her, it'll be her responsibility, to see to it
that she keeps in touch with me. I'd be quite happy about that. It probably
would help. I don't think I need say more about that, just leave it with you.
We also felt that we should take more initiative in instigating
more direct communication with you.
When you say 'we', do you mean individually or collectively?
If we organised study leaders' retreats and chapter convenors'
meetings, could these people meet with you regularly?
I'm really not sure, because I'm trying to dissociate myself from all this.
I've taken the men's study group leaders now for three years, and that's
going to be it; they'll be on their own. Well, they've already started apart
from me. I'm very reluctant to involve myself in anything on a regular
basis, as it does in a way tie me down - though I'm happy to do these sort
of things, in a way.
Dhammadinna: I suppose 'regular' could be infrequent, if you see what I
S: I find it very difficult to say, especially as this whole question of Spain
is undecided, and how I'm going to find it there and whether I shall be
spending more time there, if so how long - everything seems a bit in the
melting pot. My present inclination is very much to get on more and more
with my writing, and though I enjoy taking study and answering questions
it does get in the way of that literary work.
I think I'm probably more happy with short-term arrangements, because
long-term arrangements tie me down well in advance and prevent me
doing things, possibly. I prefer seeing people in that way, as you probably
know. I'd much rather someone rang me up and said 'Can I come and see
you the day after tomorrow?' rather than 'Can I come and see you on
such-and-such date in six months' time?' So I think it's much the same
with these sort of things: you could, if I'm around, ring me up and say
'Well look, next weekend we're all getting together at such-and-such place,
could you come and take some question and answer sessions?' The
chances are I might say 'Yes, fine.' But if you were to ask me to commit
myself six months in advance, I would be quite unwilling to do that. So I
think it will have to be done on that sort of basis, if at all.
And although there are channels of communication, i.e. by a
chairman etc., we do not feel these channels always work -
- do you mean as regards the women Order members? (Voices: Mm.)
Also the topics the Women's Wing might need to discuss with
you might be different from the men.
Well, that is obviously so. Again, it's a question of ringing me up and
saying 'Three of us, on behalf of all you women Order members, would
like to come and discuss such-and-such topics with you. Can we come up
next week?' I think it's a question of doing it like that.
Do you see more women Order members working associated
with the Order Office in the future, in the way that Subhuti
Ha, Subhuti isn't working so much now, he's doing so many other things.
- acting as a channel of communication between you and the
I don't see it at present, because it would involve such a big reorganisation
or reconstruction, I don't see it happening at the moment. Partly because
I'm trying to dissociate myself from the Order Office anyway, as it at
present exists. Sridevi has certainly been very useful and very helpful
indeed, but she hasn't really functioned as part of the Order Office in the