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Bodhisattva Ideal - Questions and Answers Tuscany 1984 Part 14 - Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked by Sangharakshita, and may contain mistakes and mishearings. Checked and reprinted copies of all seminars will be available as part of the Complete Works Project.

by Sangharakshita

... on a 3 to 4 month retreat every year.
This would require quite a bit of reorganisation on the part of centres and co-ops and communities.
You could of course go on retreat in the community itself. But I think if there was the will a way would
be found. You've got to really want to do that, as anything else.
Devamitra. - Since you've comented on the amount of retreat you think is generally necessary for
Order Members,
11270you just say what you consider to be the bare minimum
for Nitrac, because, for instance as far as I'm aware at the moment~in co-ops in the movement most
Mitras get an average of about 6 weeks retreat about a year. Would you like to cc~ent on that?
S. - Well there are Mitrac and Mitras. I mean some Nitras have got ordinary jObs~ they've got wives
and families or husbands and families and they can't always get away, especially if they've got young
childran. So I - it's very diffioult to prescribe for Mitras in general. But I think in the case of Mitras
who are as it were 'unatached' and who are working in co-ops,probably 6 weeks is th~inimum, if they
could get more the better. I think probably you could cay the more retreats a Nitra is able to go on - the
more rapid the progress that they will make. Within certain limits of course. If you were to send them
on a retreat, in some cases-say, for a whole year, well they might start experiencing a reaction~
But I think, t#flake a more general point, or a point of "prinoiple
- one has got to be very careful to ensure that the needs of the individual are not fitted into the
objective requirements of a sort of working situation.'One must never forget the working situation is
the benefit of the individual or for the benefit of individuals. That the is to say for the benefit of the
whole community, in wider sense. The
whole spiritual couunity in a wider sense,to which that particular individual belongs.'
This is not to say that one has got to disregard things like profitability No, that also has to be
considered, but nonetheless one's got to be very careful. -
you don't get into a situation where the
needs of the individual, though~lip service is paid to them, are in effect ignored. Also you~ve got to be
very careful that you don't rationalise - if you need someone to work in the co-op, you don't sort of
convince :iours.lf, 'Well that's the best thing that he or she could do as an individual. That's the best
thing for their spiritual
development anyway.' I think you have to be very careful of that,
271because you may slip into th?se sort of ratio?0alisationc, in a way with the best of intensions.
Prasanasiddhi. - When you say every Order Member should have at least one month when they're on
retreat which is actually for their benefit. Then you cay ideally 3 to 4 months on retreat. Is that a
retreat of the same nature as the one month retreat, for their own benefit ? Or could you say a more
general ..
I'm not,as it.~were, legistating. But I would say that I'm thinking of those 3 to 4 months as
being predominately for the individuals own benefit. I wouldn't like to exclude from that
entire period doing anything on retreat or in the retreat situation, or
for other people - like, leading a Puja, leading a study group/ giving
a talk.
Of course it ' 5 well known that in recent months or even recent
years I've been feeling, and also saying that I felt, not so much that people didn't get enough time on
retreat, that no doubt is also true, but that people weren't doing enough study. Especially that Mitras
weren't doing enough study, there wasn't enough provision for study. That there weren't enough study
groups and that the study groups even were not of a high enough calibre, and tha~t therefore general
Dharma knowledge was not really, in many cases, up to standard. So this also needs to be attended to.
So it's as though really a sort of general upgrading is needed. Unfortunately it all seems to
involve money, cash. But again I'm sure that where there's a will, there's a way.
Ric Cooney. - How would you see this problem of retreats in relation to somewhere like New
Zealand, where you can't go to radmaloka, or there's not so many obvious retreats,you know like, most
of tfle retreats other than retreats where tbere's beginers or something ? It would have to be a solitary
basically. So how would you get around that ?
- I think for the time being the problem is insoluble. Just as it was in England some years ago,
one mustn't forget that. In England a
272\~ ~Q
few years ago the situation was very different. Five years ago there
was no Il
Convento for instance, this is only the rourth. No doubt in in
the future/New Zealand too there will be Il Conventos. Mo doubt in New
Zealand vou've got lots of beautiful. places where you can have 11 Conventos. In fact there's probably
more beautiful' places in New Zealand even than in Italy, more unspoilt. But nonetheless for the time
being what you say is true, and people just have to do the best that they can~ certainly have more,
perhaps, in the way of solitary retreats. And also, I know one or two people in New Zealand do thiS~
listen to as many tapes of seminars as you ~an. I remember Aniketa, in particular, writing to me,
because she's a great listener to seminars. She says that very often, almost always, when she listens to a
seminar, that it's all so vivid that she actually feels that she's there present on it and she gets a great deal
of inspiration from that.
So one mustn't neglect these sort of helps and these sort of faclities too. There's an awful lot
of material on tape: in the form of lectures and seminars.
There's an awful" lot of literature
available: all sorts of transcribed material available. Perhaps one could make up for the lack of retreat
facilities by perhaps, at least for the time being, imersing oneself morein that sort of material. But no
doubt as more Order Members gather in New Zealand, "and as some of them become more
experienced, it will be nore and more possible to have very worthwhile, longer retreats there, as it is
possible in England and as it is possible here. One of the advantages in New Zealand is that you ~an
actually get away to places where it is completely silent. Yes. In England this is very difficult because
almost always yon~will hear the sound of traffic, a very faint hum in the far distance. Or a plane will
come overhead.
But I've been in parts of New Zealand, especially South Island, where I've got out of the car,
walked a short distanoe to the top of a little hill,and there hasn't been a sound . That is, no Man-made
And it's ... well quite a novel experience, if one normally lives in the city or even in a village~like
Surlingham, it's ~uite different. I was going to say the 'quality of silence' is quite different, but it's more
than that, it is simply silence. Which normally under the conditions of modern life one is not able to
experience. It's relatively quiet, sometimes, under the conditions of modern life, but it isn't really silent.
Anyway, any more questions ? What's the time anyway ? Vessantara. - It's going on for a
quarter to nine.
- And how many more questions ?
Vessantara. - We have about 2 or 3 more rising out of that lecture, -and there are also some more
follow-up questions about your discussion of the metaphorical nature of language, but maybe we
could save those for next time. Padmavajra had 2 questions.
Padmavaira. - This is conected actually to the next lecture on um... but the 1st question is a general
question on er.. to do with the Bodhisatva Ideal~- things you were saying quite early on in the Question
& Answer session about introducing some more Bodhisatva-like precepts occasionaly, to make us
aware of that dimension. I was wondering, in order to bring the Bodhisatva Ideal more into focus, do
you think there would be a place in the movement for a'Bodhisatva Day' ?
- Knim. Thats quite interesting. Yes and no. I would say that Sangha Day is at least to some
extent a Bodhisatva Day. Because what is the Sangha ? Bodhisatvas are~ in a way, the most prominent
represent- itives of tfle Arya-Sangha. So perhaps one could,as it were, include the Bodbisatvas in
ones~0elebration of Sangha Day. I~m not quite sure, I don't recollectexactly how Sangha Day is
celebrated in FWBO centres and communities. The equivalent of Sangha lay is celebrated in Theravada
countries us~ally, or mainly, by feeding the monks - (laughter) - rather more lavishly, even, than usual -
but we won't go into that.
But yes, I think if One was inventive~and imaginative, Lt would be possible to incorporate
into the ~angha Day celebrations some, as it
274 were, recognition of the great Bodhisatvas as being the exemplars of the spiritual community - the
Sangha of Bodhisatvas. I've not suggested a separate day, because I think that might introduce
difficulties, or create difficulties, because I think,as yet, the celebratory spirit hasn't been sufficiently
developed around our ?WbO centres. I think we still have quite a bit of difficuty celebrating those
particular days which, teonically at least, we do celebrate. So I think it would be a good idea to really
be able to celebrate them first, before we start creating extra s9rt of festival days. At present we've got
Buddha Day, we've got Lharma Day, we've got Sangha Day, we've got ...

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