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Unity and Diversity - Third Order Convention 1976

by Sangharakshita

... the Convenor of Mitras and the acting Convenor of women Mitras, and we shall
tomorrow, at Plenary Session four, we shall be considering visualisation practice.
consider then the functioning of the Kalyana Mitra system.
Visualisation practice, we may say, is an expression of unity in diversity, and diversity
in unity. Because there are many different visualisation practices. Practices visualising
Now there is a well known proverb attributed to Napoleon, that the army marches on
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and so on, of many different kinds. But all these figures, all
its stomach. We also know that the Buddha himself before his Enlightenment, went
these forms, all these Buddhas, all these Bodhisattvas, they are all expressions in
forth from home into homelessness in a chariot drawn by horses. And in much the
different ways from different points of view, different angles, all expressions of one
same way the Order functions in the world through the 'Friends'. The Friends are the
The Third Order Convention (1976): “Unity and Diversity in the Spiritual Life” - Page 3 of 217
horses, if you like the Windhorses. So in the evening of day three, office bearers of the
In general I've been thinking that I'd like to see, if not immediately, then maybe within
FWBO Councils will get together under the chairmanship of Lokamitra to consider
a few years at least, that the job of the Convenor is much bigger in a sense than it is
administration and organisation. And the keynote of the discussion, I hope at least,
at the moment which is just organising the Convention. But so that it begins to
will be the more spiritual we are the more efficient we are.
encompass things like correspondence with Order members who aren't in touch with
a Centre, who are on their own or travelling around, or something like that. So that
And this brings us to day four, the last day. In the morning in Plenary Session seven,
there is a continual correspondence with people who don't have much contact with
I shall be commenting on a few points raised in ‘Shabda’. As well as perhaps, if we
Order Members. That it's somebody who knows where Order members are and if you
have time, letters to me, personal letters to me, points on which there has been perhaps
are moving or going abroad sometimes, that you always keep in touch with that one
a certain amount of misunderstanding, or at least not a very clear understanding. And
person. So that there is somebody who knows where everybody is. Although
then in the afternoon, in Plenary Session eight, we'll be dealing with something which
obviously this isn’t going to be entirely possible, and somebody who rather than just
very much concerns the growth of individual Order members. We shall be dealing
arranging the Convention, also arranges seminars, retreats, order retreats, maybe even
with vows. And here again we encounter the theme of unity and diversity in spiritual
Order Days if there are large numbers of Order Members. So that it's a fuller job than
life in respect of vows.
it has been at the moment, which has just been a Convention organiser. And possibly
to maintain that knowing where everybody is, the Convenor is also the Registrar. It
So except for the third day, there will be no sessions in the evening. Only on the third
would be quite a simple matter to be so. Possibly even at some time, editor of
day there will be the session dealing with administration and organisation. And this
‘Shabda’ as well so it was a complete full-time job. That there is one person in the
is deliberate, this fact that there are no other sessions in the evening, so as to allow
Order who is working full-time totally for the Order in a very sort of practical way.
time for Order members to get together individually and in small groups as they may
But as yet I don't think there is anybody who has that time or who can do it. And
feel inclined.
certainly as Convenor, if I stay as Convenor for the next year, I won't have time for
more than just organising the Convention as I have done this year. Correspondence
So this is the programme that we shall be trying to get through. These are the themes,
among Order Members and so on does take up quite an amount of time. So maybe
these are the topics, for discussion. So we come on now to this morning's topics or this
next, it's something to think about rather than repeat it all. That’s really all I’ve got to
morning's themes. We are going to receive now some, at least, of the reports from
say.
Order Office bearers. I am going to ask Khema, as Convenor of the Order, to give us
first of all, her report. And at the end of each report of course there will be discussions.
S: Would anyone like to ask for further clarification on any point before we come to
Anybody can ask any question on the report or the matter of the report that they wish
actual comments or further suggestions? [pause] Do you have any comments? [pause]
to do.
Just one point occurs to me. As far as I recollect I think it was originally intended that
the Convenor's job should be in fact a fuller one as you outlined. But there has been
Khema: First of all, briefly, over the last year I don’t have any news to report as all
simply the difficulty of finding someone able to devote the time to that.
I've been doing is organising the Convention. But that does have certain areas
(unclear) which is where Order Members don't respond to me asking them to book in
It also seems to me that in fact it should be the Registrar anyway - whether the
advance and paying and so on. Especially as it means extra work which is just a bit of
Registrar is the same person as the Convenor or not - the Registrar who does, as it
a nuisance. So just a request that, as years go by, the Order member takes a bit more
were, keep tabs on Order Members and know where they all are and have all their
responsibility for paying in advance and so on. I think you know the story well
addresses.
enough.
Khema: I don't think that is the case at the moment.
The Third Order Convention (1976): “Unity and Diversity in the Spiritual Life” - Page 4 of 217
S: Right.
will be at another address say for three months or for one week or whatever it is. I
think this is the most important thing at the moment in this connection; that the
Khema: Hopefully it will be so in the future.
Registrar has all this information and doesn't have to ask around for it.
S: But it does seem that until such time as we have more Order Members with more
Lokamitra: I think, it seems to me, that the Registrar has to take initiative sometimes
time that the job of Convenor will have to be virtually limited to the convening of the
in this. I mean there have been Order Members travelling around who, I think, haven't
Convention itself. But it would be good if the Convenor whoever that is, was able to
received ‘Shabda’ because Sanghamitta hasn't know their address, Suvratta hasn't
take on the responsibility for organising Order Retreats especially and such things.
known their address. But it’s been quite possible to find out their address, and actually
[Pause]
write to them. I found this.....
Vangisa: I think that a possibly interesting point was raised here, and that is that one
S: But still one must insist the ultimate responsibility is on the individual Order
of the functions in a certain way, imperfectly so far as moving towards a kind of
Member himself or herself. The individual Order Member is no less responsible than
perfection of operations. But this (unclear) of Operations does assume fairly small
the Registrar. The Registrar is simply to keep the file of the information sent to him.
numbers. Once you get into the thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of
So one must insist that Order Members have that degree of responsibility to send him
thousands, which of course is what you have had with bhikshus in the East. Literally
their change of address, which sometimes isn't done.
you have hundreds of thousands of bhikkhus wandering around all over the place and
obviously there is no central guide as to where they all are.
___(Woman)__: Maybe the Order Members aren't aware of that, if they're not in
direct contact.
S: But they do write to one another. There are lots of bhikkhus in India that I haven't
seen for ten years, but I know where they all are because we let one another know and
S: of what?
take advantage of the international postal system.
___(Woman)__: That they have to send their addresses...
__(Man)____: I would like to suggest, Bhante, that it would be a good idea if all the
Order Members would write, say once a week, or some laid down time to the Order
S: Well, I would have thought it was common sense if you wanted to keep in touch
to let them know or just write about something that is interesting, or any kind of news
with people which presumably you do.
to do with the Order or to do with the Dharma or to do with something they've been
doing in the past few days or weeks, so that could be the Registrar who knows where
___(Woman)__: Someone like Dharmajyoti ...

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