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Mitrata Omnibus - Pre - ordination Course Tuscany 1981 and 1982 - Part 1

by Sangharakshita

Preordination Course 1981 Tuscany 29.11.81

Concluding Remarks -
A Talk by the Venerable Maha Sthavira Sangharakshita
Upasakas, old and new, and mitras or is it mitra? Oh no it's mitras, sorry. (laughter). I don't
know if anybody's been keeping any record but today is the ninety-fourth day of this course.
We've been here now ninety-four whole days and nights, and this ninety-fourth day is the last
of the course proper. So it seems only appropriate that I should give a few - what I have called
- 'concluding remarks'.
This is not a talk. This is not a lecture. It's not even a sermon (laughter). It's not even an
exhortation, and I'm not getting in any little practice, so to speak, for India. It's just a few
concluding remarks at the end of this course.
Now I was rather intrigued to notice earlier on, when we were having the various speakers'
classes that quite a number of people dedicated their talks. I was quite touched by this. I'm not
quite sure where this habit or practice, or if I may say so, this fashion of dedication, of talks
arose. It certainly didn't arise from me. I can't remember ever having in my life dedicated a
talk to anybody. Perhaps I should have done so. So I thought it might not be a bad idea if this
evening I caught up with this fashion (laughter). Even though rather belatedly. I thought it
might be rather a good idea if I dedicated this, I won't say talk, but these concluding remarks.
So the question, of course, arises - to whom am I to dedicate these concluding remarks? Well,
first I thought, 'Well, perhaps I should be a bit original. Perhaps it should be the [2] sort of
dedication that nobody has attempted before.' So I was thinking, 'Well, to whom could I
dedicate these concluding remarks?' I thought, 'Well should I dedicate them, for instance, to
my mother? (laughter) who is certainly thinking of me - perhaps at this very moment, and
who has been an excellent mother and never got in my way or contradicted me once in my
life (laughter), even when I was quite small.' But no, I ruled out my mother for one reason or
another. Then I wondered, 'Well, perhaps I could be really original and dedicate these
concluding remarks to Maisie the cat (laughter) at Padmaloka because I've known Maisie now
for ten years which is rather longer than I've known anybody here - and she's an excellent
little cat, apart from catching the odd mouse. But no, I ruled Maisie out. Then I thought, 'Well
perhaps I should dedicate it just to an absent friend. Perhaps I should dedicate these
concluding remarks to Kovida who's holding the fort, so to speak, at Padmaloka Or perhaps I
should say should say he's supporting those little lotus buds that we left behind, and is
preventing them from sinking back too deeply into the slime while we're away. But in the end
I'm afraid I ruled out Kovida too and I thought, 'No, there's only one thing for it. These
concluding remarks must be dedicated to all of you. Especially to the twenty new Order
Devapriya, I think it was, the other evening speaking , happened to remark that if it wasn't for
me he wouldn't be here, but then equally if it wasn't for all of you I wouldn't be here at Il
Convento, Batignano, either, as far as I can tell. I wouldn't have had the opportunity of
spending the last three months in this lovely place. And certainly the last three months have
been, very very - what shall I say - it seems difficult to find the appropriate adjective -
exciting, stimulating, worthwhile, valuable, impressive, entertaining - the last three months
have been all of these things.
In the course of the last three months, as you all know, we've done quite a lot of things. We've
done them to an extent perhaps that we haven't had an opportunity of doing them before.
We've had an opportunity of studying, exploring the Dharma, going into it at times quite
deeply. We've had an opportunity of meditating regularly. We've had wonderful pujas. I think
if, from the purely Dharmic point of view, if someone was to ask me whether from the
Dharmic point of view there was something that had really stood out, in the course of this
three month course, I probably would say that the two big special pujas that we had, the one
for what was it?
(Voice says 'Full-Moon Day)
Full-moon day, and the other of course for another full moon day which also happened to be
Sangha Day. I wrote in fact, to somebody in England, to one of the Order Members there that
these were the best, the biggest and the most elaborate pujas that I remember ever having
attended in the whole course of the FWBO from the very beginning even. So there were those
pujas. There was also communication, not just by way of the communication exercises, but in
all sorts of other ways, in the course of the discussion groups, even maybe while out on
walks, during meals, and so on. So in this way we've passed a very valuable, a very unusual,
even a unique, even an unprecedented, we may say, three months of our lives.
There are certain other things, I think, which I can mention as being a bit outstanding so far as
I'm concerned, in connection with the last three months. First of all, I discovered, or perhaps I
should say I had pointed out to me, at least two mistakes in 'The Survey' - that was certainly
quite useful. I also managed to translate three new chapters of the Dhammapada and I've also
had the opportunity of seeing rather more of people than I usually do manage to see when I'm
in England. I've got to know, I think, quite a bit more about people than I would have got to
know had I remained in [4] England and had you all remained in your various centres and
communities there. If it hadn't been for this course, I don't think I would have discovered, at
least not for quite a while, for instance, that, Sudhana has such a talent for telling stories, not
to say genius for telling stories. That is one of the discoveries of the course so far as I am
concerned. And we can also say that not only has this last three months been significant for us
personally, not only have we been able to explore the Dharma, practise meditation,
experience communication and so on; from the point of the FWBO generally, from the point
of view of the Movement generally, this has been quite an important event, because there's
not been really anything like it before. Yes, people have been ordained before, yes. A hundred
and forty people. At least there's at present a hundred and forty people in the Order. More
than that have been Ordained. A few, especially in the earlier days, have dropped out but, yes,
one may say a hundred and forty plus people have been ordained before, but none of them had
the advantage one might say of being ordained in the course of, at the end of a course of this
sort. So it is, this course of ours, quite unique, quite unprecedented and I think we may say
that it constitutes a landmark in the whole history of the FWBO so far. In fact I would even
go so far as to say that this three month preordination intensive course of ours is probably the
most important event to have occurred in the history of the FWBO since the opening of the
LBC And that is no doubt saying quite a lot. We've gathered together in the course of these
three months all sorts of threads. Order Members, newly ordained Order Members in the past,
unfortunately have only too often had to pick up their information, especially about the
workings of the movement and the workings of the order, bit by bit. Sometimes it hasn't even
been possible for them to get into their visualization practices very quickly, sometimes even
[5] the texts haven't been available, but in the course of those taking this course, everything
has, as it were, been laid on. Everything has been complete, everything has been there.
Everything that you needed to know, at least for the next ten or twelve years, as an up and
coming young Order Member, as an up and coming young Upasaka. It's all been given to you.
You've been provided with the whole equipment, as it were. If you like, with the whole
armour. And a precedent has been set, we may say, for the future. Because I think we can say
that this course having been held, this very important, this unique, this unprecedented course
having been held, the movement can't be the same again. It won't be possible also, to go back.
It won't be possible to do things in the old way. We'll have to have other courses like this. I
expect up and coming new young Order Members are going to demand them anyway, and
there might come a time when one looks back on this course and expresses some surprise that
it should have lasted only three months. This is a quite likely, quite possible future
development. So there's a precedent for the future. We're going to have, I'm sure, other such
courses. Some of you probably know that already some people have been invited on the next
series of retreats which will lead up to the next Preordination course. We don't know where
that course is going to be held. It may be held here, if it's possible to be held here. We may
have to hold it somewhere else. If we can't hold it in Italy perhaps we'll hold it in Greece. If
we can't hold it in Greece, perhaps we'll hold it in Spain. If we can't hold it in Spain, we'll
jolly well go to Mexico! (laughter) - hold it there to somewhere like that and hold it. But one
thing we can be pretty certain of, we're not going to hold it in dull, cold, rainy, ...

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